Memorial Day

This memorial day, I’m posting a bleg. Not for me, but for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who are stationed all over our country, and all over the world. And not for just them, but also their families. This year, in addition to that moment of silence, or that moment of appreciation for what our military secures for us, give something back – voluntarily.

Printed below is a list of charities dedicated to helping members of the military and their families. They are presented in no particular order. Choose one (or more than one) and donate what you can to them. Some will accept material goods, some will accept airline miles, all will accept cash donations.

The Fisher House:

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 illness, disease, or injury.

If you donate unused airline frequent-flier miles this weekend, the airlines will match your donation.

Soldier’s Angels:

Soldiers Angels has been supporting our nation’s military men and women since 2003. Our mission is to provide aid and comfort to the military and its families, provide immediate response to hard situations, and make sure no soldier feels unloved.We start with letters, care pacakges, and comfort items to our deployed. We also help their families here at home as requested.

Through special projects, dedicated teams and individuals supporting our troops we hope to make a difference in the lives of our soldiers. Find out how you can get involved!

Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund:

Since September 11, 2001, United States Marines have been on the front line
of the War on Terror. Their bravery and dedication have had a price. Many have been wounded, some seriously, and some resulting in lifelong disabilities.

Because of medical advances, Marines are now surviving injuries that were not survivable in past wars. They face extended hospital stays and months if not years of recovery and rehabilitation.

Few families are prepared to deal with the personal and financial disruption associated with leaving their home, their family, and their job to be with their loved one through long months of hospitalization, rehabilitation and recuperation.

The Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund provides financial assistance to:

·Marines injured in combat and in training

·Other service members injured while in direct support of Marine units

·Their families.

This assistance is in the form of a grant with no expectation of repayment. Grants may help with immediate financial needs such as travel, childcare, lodging or problems resulting from lost wages. Assistance is also given for long term needs such as modified homes and vans.

Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund:

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is a leader in supporting the men and women of the Armed Forces and their families. Begun in 2000 under the auspices of the Intrepid Museum Foundation, and established as an independent not-for-profit organization in 2003, the Fund has provided close to $60 million in support for the families of military personnel lost in service to our nation, and for severely wounded military personnel and veterans. These efforts are funded entirely with donations from the public, and hundreds of thousands of individuals have contributed to the Fund. 100% of contributions raised by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund go towards these programs; all administrative expenses are underwritten by the Fund’s Trustees.

From 2000 to 2005 the Fund provided close to $20 million to families of United States military personnel lost in performance of their duty, mostly in service in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Fund provided unrestricted grants of $11,000 to each spouse and $5,000 to each dependent child; and $1,000 to parents of unmarried servicemembers. The payments were coordinated with the casualty offices of the Armed Forces, to ensure all families received these benefits. In 2005 federal legislation substantially increased the benefits granted to these families. With that mission therefore accomplished, the Fund redirected its support toward the severely injured.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation:

Special Operations personnel are conducting more missions, in more places, and under a broader range of conditions than ever before. These missions entail high operational tempos, heavy and unpredictable deployment schedules, personal hardships and, by their very nature, inordinate casualties both in operations and training. Unfortunately these casualties occur at an early age, at the beginning of their careers, thus leaving behind families who have yet to accumulate the resources to provide for their surviving children’s college education.

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation strives to relieve Special Operations personnel of the one concern, their families, that might distract them from peak performance when they need to be – and when America needs them to be – at their very best.

Today, more than 700 such deserving children exist who should not be denied the education their fallen parent would surely have wanted for them. With nearly 100 children eligible each year for college in the upcoming years, the Foundation’s estimated financial need through 2018 is $60 million.

The Army Emergency Relief Fund:

AER is a private nonprofit organization incorporated in 1942 by the Secretary of War and the Army Chief of Staff. AER’s sole mission is to help soldiers and their dependents.

AER is the Army’s own emergency financial assistance organization and is dedicated to “Helping the Army Take Care of Its Own”. AER provides commanders a valuable asset in accomplishing their basic command responsibility for the morale and welfare of soldiers.

AER funds are made available to commanders having AER Sections to provide emergency financial assistance to soldiers – active & retired – and their dependents when there is a valid need.

AER funds made available to commanders are not limited and are constrained only by the requirement of valid need.

For these reasons, the AER assistance program is conducted within the Army structure by major commanders and their installation/organization commanders through AER sections and other related organizations.

The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society:

Founded in 1904, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is a private non-profit charitable organization. It is sponsored by the Department of the Navy and operates nearly 250 offices ashore and afloat at Navy and Marine Corps bases throughout the world. The Society was incorporated in the District of Columbia and has its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. It is managed by a Board of Directors whose members are active duty or retired members of the Naval Services, or spouses of active duty or retired members of the Naval Services.

The mission of the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society is to provide, in partnership with the Navy and Marine Corps, financial, educational, and other assistance to members of the Naval Services of the United States, eligible family members, and survivors when in need; and to receive and manage funds to administer these programs.

The Air Force Aid Society:

The AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY (AFAS) is the official charity of the U.S. Air Force. It promotes the Air Force mission by helping “to relieve distress of Air Force members and their families and assisting them to finance their education”. It is rooted in the original Army Air Corps and the World War II Army Air Forces, whose members wanted to “take care of their own.” Through the years, AFAS has become increasingly effective in helping individuals with personal emergencies– as well as extremely useful when used by commanders to help solve personnel problems in their units.

The AIR FORCE AID SOCIETY, since its creation in 1942 as a non-profit organization, has helped countless members of the Air Force community. Strong support for AFAS programs and objectives is reinforced each year by the substantial personal contributions made by the active force, all of which are used solely for Emergency Assistance. Although AFAS receives no appropriated or non-appropriated funds, close ties are maintained between the Society and Air Force officials.

The Armed Services YMCA:

The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, is a national member association of the YMCA of the USA and works with the Department of Defense. Headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia, the ASYMCA has provided support services to military service members and their families for more than 140 years, particularly focused on junior-enlisted men and women – the individuals on the front lines defending our nation and their families. ASYMCA operates at 16 dedicated branch locations and nine affiliated community YMCAs, as well as six Department of Defense/Department of Homeland Security affiliates worldwide.

ASYMCA offers essential programs such as childcare, hospital assistance, spouse support services, food services, computer training classes, health and wellness services, and holiday meals, among many others. In 2006 alone, more than 9,133 individuals nationwide volunteered their time to the ASYMCA, logging 214,622 volunteer hours.

The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund:

The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that was founded October 23, 2003 by Rebecca Campbell and is based in the D.C. Metropolitan area.

After the attacks on our nation her youngest son enlisted in the U.S. Army and served with the 82nd Airborne out of Fort Bragg, N.C. Her nephew was already serving in the USMC and was deployed to Afghanistan as well as other close friends. In February 2003 her son was deployed to Baghdad and later that year with the help of family and friends she organized a fundraiser to help children affected by the loss of a parent. The idea was to help one or two children who had lost their parent(s) overseas during his or her deployment with college assistance. The first fundraiser was held two weeks later and was a big success! She simply cannot stop and with the help of volunteers and the public we continue with our mission of support. Her son, nephew and other close friends did come home, however, others have not and with the continual support from the public the dream to help our families in need is becoming a reality. As of today, April 24, 2007 Fort Bragg has lost 119 troops in the Iraq war.

Our Mission:

The CFSRF was founded in order to provide support to surviving U.S. Military children and spouses that have lost a loved one in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars or whose service member has sustained a serious disability.

Our objectives are to help U.S. Military children and spouses with College Grants as well as provide financial assistance to those families in need of help with housing, utilities, food and clothing. Often, when a loss occurs in these families what was a two person income becomes one. The financial hardships placed on these families are very difficult to deal with. Their lives are devastated and forever changed.

We are determined to help make the last wishes of those lost to the casualty of war possible by assisting their families with their needs. However, we can only do this through the help of others.


The AdoptaPlatoon Soldier Support Effort™ founded in 1998 is a nonprofit 501C-3 organization managed nationwide by volunteer mothers to ensure that deployed United States Service members in all branches of the military are not forgotten by providing needed mail support and to promote patriotism in our schools and communities. To provide a better deployment quality of life, lift morale, and assist military families, the AAP created projects that meet the need of military requests, established special projects for holidays, and assigns individual morale lifting mail support to service members of all branches of the U.S. military serving their Nation around the world.

AmericanSnipers (formerly Adopt a Sniper):

We are active local, state, and federal police snipers as well as snipers from the various military branches.

We are a tight-knit group that believes strongly in supporting our brothers that are deployed to the front lines. In return for that support, they then pass on their gained knowledge upon their return.

We work hard and believe in our missions.

We train hard so that when the time comes, we can accomplish our missions to the fullest of our abilities.

We are snipers that need support in the form of advanced gear as well as “creature comfort” items to help us pass the time while we are away from our jobs and our families.

We are the ones putting our lives on the line to help keep this great country safe and free from terrorism. We are your sons, your brothers, your husbands, your fathers, as well as your friends.

We invite you to directly support the effort of those that are going in harms way on your behalf.

Any Soldier:

Sergeant Brian Horn from LaPlata, Maryland, an Army Infantry Soldier with the 173rd Airborne Brigade was in the Kirkuk area of Iraq when he started the idea of Any Soldier® to help care for his soldiers. He agreed to distribute packages that came to him with “Attn: Any Soldier” in his address to soldiers who didn’t get mail.
Brian later completed a tour in Afghanistan and is now home, but continues larger then ever.

Any Soldier Inc. started in August 2003 as a simple family effort to help the soldiers in one Army unit, thus our name. Due to overwhelming requests, on 1 January 2004 the Any Soldier® effort was expanded to include any member, of any of the Armed Forces in harms way.

Books for Soldiers:

During the first Gulf War, several of my friends from school were in the reserves and were activated to fight the Iraqis. CNN reported that once the soldiers were deployed, they were faced with massive downtime and were restricted to their base due to the travel limitations set by the Saudi government.

I am a voracious reader and at the beginning of the Gulf War, I had a closet full of paperback books. Books that were not being used. So instead of selling them at the used book store, I packed them up in small care packages and sent them out to all the soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen I had addresses for.

Within a few weeks, I ran out of books before I ran out of addresses. Friends and family members began donating their paperback books and in the end, over 1000 books were sent to the Gulf.

After the war, we received many thank-you notes from soldiers who got one of our books. Unless it was time for them to fly back home, mail-call days were one of the most anticipated events of deployment. Regardless of why the military is deployed, the men and women of our armed services are there for us. They deserve our support and if we can make their deployment easier, then all the better.

Operation Give, founded by MilBlogger Paul Holton, “Chief Wiggles”:

The most unique aspect of Operation Give is that it not only supplies humanitarian aid to civilians in combat zones, but it also provides US military personnel who are deployed in those areas with the opportunity to connect with the civilians. Through our connections and contacts in the military, we desire to provide them with the resources needed to accomplish their mission of winning the hearts and minds of the people. This mission is just as important to us as providing much needed supplies and resources for the children of the countries where the military are stationed.

The Mission Statement:
The mission of Operation Give is to bring hope and happiness to struggling people the world over by helping them to gain access. Through servicing the requests of caring soldiers and civilians, we are working towards bringing disconnected economies into the global community, that all may experience the benefits and the peace that comes from economic connectivity and world-wide trade. As a bastion of freedom we, through kind and generous donations will provide the U.S. soldiers and indigenous civilians with the resources they need. Our focus will be greatest on children in these areas.

The philosophy:
We believe the key to peace throughout the world comes only through the eradication of poverty. By linking the isolated economies to the global trade community, internal rule sets within these countries will find a working equilibrium with the rest of the world. This will greatly decrease the likelihood of military conflict and terror world wide.

Operation Quiet Comfort:

Our Purpose :

Established for the purpose of honoring and comforting members of the U.S. Armed Forces injured while in harm’s way, and providing support to those who care for them.

Our Mission:

We’re creating care packages to be sent to “Any American Hero” at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center (LRMC) in Germany and other medical care facilities abroad.

Often our injured men and women arrive for medical care without their belongings. Even when injured, our troops need access to items like hygiene and grooming products, clothing, entertainment, and communication.

Many of these men and women have families and friends who face challenges at home and aren’t able to do all they would like to provide support.

It is the mission of this effort to help assure those individuals are honored for their sacrifice and comforted by creating “GO BAGS”, or transition kits. These kits include comfort items like our “Four Freedoms Gratitude Quilt”, personal care items, and products that entertain and provide “down time” for their spiritual, emotional, and physical healing.

Wounded Warrior Project:

The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) is to raise public awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members to aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.

WWP accomplishes this mission by providing programs and services to severely injured active service members and their families during the critical time between their initial rehabilitation while on active duty and their eventual transition to civilian life. WWP employs staff with over 55 years of combined experience in providing direct services to active duty service members and disabled veterans, including benefits counseling, representation before the department of veterans affairs, bringing public attention to the needs of wounded service members, and advocating for regulatory and statutory changes beneficial to veterans and active duty service members.

The USO:

The USO is a private, nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide morale, welfare and recreation-type services to our men and women in uniform. The original intent of Congress — and enduring style of USO delivery — is to represent the American people by extending a touch of home to the military. The USO currently operates more than 130 centers worldwide, including ten mobile canteens located in the continental United States and overseas. Overseas centers are located in Germany, Italy, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Qatar, Korea, Afghanistan, Guam, and Kuwait. Service members and their families visit USO centers more than 4.7 million times each year.

This is just a short list. There are many more. Pick one you like, and make a donation of time, material or money this Memorial Day.

UPDATE: Reader Rumpshot recommends Packages from Home, a local Arizona charity:

Packages from Home began as a mother’s labor of love for her son, a soldier with the Army’s 1st Infantry Division. Kathleen Lewis’s son Christian was deployed to Iraq in March 2004. She began sending care packages to her son on a regular basis. She received a phone call from Christian and was thanked for all the comfort items from home, but she also found out that her son was the only soldier in his squad receiving any packages from home. Kathleen and some friends decided to adopt his squad, and began shipping packages to the men in his unit. This is the point where “Packages from Home” was born.

Kathleen, along with her friends and neighbors, began having “packing parties” in her garage every month or so, sending requested and needed items to her son’s squad. As we all know, volunteerism for a good cause is contagious. As the small group of volunteers kept sending packages, more and more people began to get involved. In October 2004, the small organization received a call from a local a.m. radio talk show host. Bruce Jacobs from KFYI Radio invited Kathleen to be on his morning talk show to talk about her cause. After the appearance on his show, her phone lines lit up. Some people wanted to donate money, others wanted to donate items to support the troops, and others volunteered their time to help.

The grassroots effort began to grow in leaps and bounds from November 2004. By then we realized that the amount of donated goods, and the money coming in to ship the items, would require us to request charitable status with the IRS. Packages From Home is now a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

We are an all-volunteer group, with NO paid Officers and NO paid staff except for a nominal amount paid to a part-time bookkeeper. Our sole purpose is to provide food, personal care, seasonal comfort items and recreation items to deployed American troops, at no cost to the troops. With the one exception of the bookkeeper/CPA, none of us are paid, no one receives compensation of any sort.

UPDATE II: Markadelphia recommends Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America believes that Troops and Veterans who were on the front lines are uniquely qualified to speak about and educate the public about the realities of war, its implications on the health of our military and on the health of our country. These Troops & Veterans should be given a voice in the national dialogue and connected to the American public.

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America believes that issues concerning our Troops & Veterans, the health of our Military, and our National Security are all interrelated. The IAVA philosophy/platform is that:

* A healthy, well-manned, well-equipped, and properly used Military is vital to our national security, but with substantial priority placed on personnel, not high-end weapons systems
* Our Troops must always be provided a clear mission (with goals and an exit strategy), be properly trained for the tasks it is given, and not be overextended in order to ensure success of the mission and to keep the military healthy.
* Our Troops must always be provided the best equipment and operating conditions that provide for the greatest level of safety and morale within reason.
* Veterans must be properly provided for, not only for moral reasons, but because it directly and significantly impacts recruitment and morale for the overall armed forces.

Now you may have perceived that this group is not exactly like the others, and you might be right about that. The most obvious difference I see is illustrated by this apparent dichotomy:

IAVA is a 501c(3) nonprofit organization. Your tax-deductible contributions are vital to our success.

As the Iraq War enters its fifth year, our obligation to show real support for our troops and veterans is both a moral duty and a crucial component of our national security. For 2007, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America has developed the comprehensive IAVA Legislative Agenda to help legislators honor our men and women in uniform by addressing the real issues facing troops and new veterans. We look forward to working with the 110th Congress.

The IAVA Legislative Agenda covers four key areas: mental health, homecoming, health care, and government accountability. From these areas, we’ve chosen seven IAVA Legislative Priorities: actions Congress can take this session to show that they really support the men and women who have served and continue to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This charity, it seems, has a political agenda. Seeing as how they changed their name from “Operation Truth” much like “Handgun Control” changed their name, a rose by any other name…

Quelle surprise. But I assume they actually do some good.

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