When I was younger, I spent eight years in the U.S. Air Force. Though I served during the First Gulf War, I never saw combat. Heck, I never even left the country, unless you count being stationed in California. I was one of the lucky ones, I suppose.
There are a great many men and women who are serving their country now. They all have made sacrifices; some by staying in when higher pay awaits them in the civilian world; many by separation from their families during TDYs (temporary duty assignments) or remote tours. Then there are those 700-odd who have given that “last, full measure of devotion” – who have bled their last on the rocky soil of Afghanistan, or the sands of Iraq.
It is to my everlasting regret that I no longer serve with this new Band of Brothers; alas, I am too old to reenlist. In searching the ‘net, however, I have found other ways in which I – and YOU – can help.
This isn’t about politics. I don’t care if you believe in the rightness of the war or not. I don’t care if you hate George Bush or love him. This is something you can do to help our troops, and the families of the fallen. In the first instance, it is also a way for us to help make a difference on the ground in Iraq.
Spirit of America (SoA) is a nonprofit, charitable organization that helps Americans serving abroad improve the lives of people in need. We enable American military, Foreign Service and reconstruction personnel to submit requests for goods that will help local people. Typically, the requests are for items that established aid organizations and government bureaucracies are not designed to handle and that fall in the gaps between large-scale assistance programs – yet can make an important difference. Utilizing the Internet and grass roots communication, Spirit of America works to fulfill the requests through donors in the United States. SoA collects the tax-deductible donated funds and procures the goods, or secures the direct donation of the requested goods, and arranges shipment to the requestor. We are now accepting and fulfilling requests from Americans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not seek, require or accept funding from the U.S. Government.
Currently, U.S. Marines and SeaBees are training Iraqi men as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and masons. Donated tools will be presented as gifts of friendship when they complete trade school. Your tax-deductible contribution will support Iraqis who are working with the Marines to improve their country.
$670 purchases five electrician tool sets
$157 buys one carpenter tool set
$97 provides a manager/inspector tool set
The Fisher House program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America’s military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.
Because members of the military and their families are stationed worldwide and must often travel great distances for specialized medical care, Fisher House Foundation donates “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illnes, disease, or injury.
There is at least one Fisher House at every major military medical center to assist families in need and to ensure that they are provided with the comforts of home in a supportive environment. Annually, the Fisher House program serves more than 7,000 families, and have made available more than 1,500,000 days of lodging to family members since the program originated in 1990.
And last, but most assuredly no least:
The Fallen Heroes Fund. Since September 11, 2001, more than 700 American and Allied soldiers have died in military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. More than half of these brave men and women have left behind a spouse or children. These families must now face their future without a husband or wife or father or mother. In addition to their grief, many of them must also address the questions of finding work, where to live, how to raise their children, how to provide for their education, and even how to get food on the table. The Armed Forces provide some benefits, including SGLI life insurance, a $12,000 death benefit, continued payment of a portion of salary, assistance with burial costs, health care, continued military base housing for up to six months, and other benefits. But very often the financial needs these families face demand immediate help. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund exists to meet this need.
The Fund provides unrestricted grants to the families of military personnel who have given their lives in the current operations in defense of our country. The gifts, $10,000 to each dependent family and an additional $5,000 per child, are intended to help these families through any immediate or long-term financial difficulties they may face. This gift is made quietly and without fanfare, to protect the privacy of the families. Our goal is to support them in their time of need, and to ensure that they know that our nation appreciates the sacrifice they have made for us.
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is supported entirely by donations. 100% of contributions from the public for this effort go to support military families; no administrative costs are deducted. The Fund is a program of the Intrepid Foundation, which absorbs all administrative costs.
Since 2000 the Fund has helped hundreds of military families. The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund contribution is given without restriction, available for any needs the family may have. This gift has helped these families in many ways: providing a sufficient down payment for a house, flying parents to the funeral of their fallen child, providing schooling for children, and even more immediate needs such as buying food and other necessities. Some families have put the funds in a trust for their children’s education. Others have used them to establish support groups for families who are facing similar losses. One widow, who lost her husband in Afghanistan, wrote to us saying “It is a great honor to our family for the members of the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund to have helped with our financial needs during our darkest hour. It is incredibly meaningful to have fellow Americans, who do not know us personally, contribute to the future of our family in such a significant way.”
The Fund is currently contributing to the spouses and children of U.S. and British military personnel killed in action, as defined by the casualty offices of the United States Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard, and the Ministry of Defense of the United Kingdom, in Operation Iraqi Freedom; and the spouses and children of U.S. military personnel killed in action in Afghanistan.
Do you want to help with the war effort, but don’t know how? Here is your answer: three great ways to make a difference, at home and abroad.
Now is not the time for excuses. Even a small amount will help. You have your assignment. Go to it!
cross-posted at Confessions of a Jesus Phreak.