Each year, we select a charity or organization which supports our troops and their families as our "featured" charity. We highlight the work of the charity, and attendees can offer a donation if they so choose, but are under no obligation whatsoever to do so. This year, we decided to have a little fun with our charity. We'll be featuring a Jail-and-Bail (complete with judge, sheriff, public defenders and bondsmen) at the cocktail party. You will have the opportunity to "arrest" your favorite (or not-so-favorite) milblogger, and the proceeds from your arrest warrant will go to charity. More information will follow soon.
The featured charity for the 2009 MilBlog Conference is Honor Their Service, Inc.
Honor Their Service, a public charity under section 501 c (3) of the IRS code, was formed in April of 2008 by three Marine wives and a volunteer at Landstuhl RAMC. Though we only recently received formal determination of our tax exempt status, individual board members of Honor Their Service have worked for several years to honor the service of America's military veterans by:
- providing assistance and comfort to wounded veterans and their families
- supporting their efforts to live more productive and independent lives
- assuring all military veterans that their sacrifices have not been forgotten.
Here is the slate of future events we hope to provide our service members and their families:
1. Operation Fresh Air. 2009 will mark our third year hosting Operation Fresh Air events. Operation Fresh Air provides a day of fishing, fresh air and sunshine, fantastic food, boat rides, camaraderie and fun in a beautiful wooded park setting for service members recovering at Bethesda and Walter Reed and their families. It’s a way for military, dependents, and veterans to offer a reminder of ‘normalcy’ to families in a relaxed and military friendly setting. In 2009, we have Operation Fresh Air events scheduled for May, July, and October.
2. Lending Library for Burn Victims. This program would build a lending library of DVDs, CDs, and electronic games for Marines and soldiers recovering at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, TX. If the program is successful, we would like to expand it to other military hospitals.
3. Spa Day at the Hospitals would provide a relaxing day for family members who care for wounded warriors as they recover at Bethesda and Walter Reed. Caring for a severely wounded spouse or child is emotionally and physically draining. Family members of wounded warriors are heroes in their own right, and Spa Days aim to provide a day of pampering for caretakers who give their all (and all too often forget to take care of themselves). It will also offer wounded warriors a way to say, “Thank you”, as they will have the opportunity to surprise a loved one with a care-free respite from hospital life.
4. The Brian Letendre Memorial Soccer Tournament. Capt. Brian Letendre, USMC, was killed while conducting combat operations in Iraq on May 3, 2006. In cooperation with his family, we proposed to create an enduring reminder of who he was and what he loved: one that will enhance civilian awareness of the enormous debt we owe to our armed forces.
5. The Many Hands Alliance. The war has spawned a huge number of military-oriented non-profits many of whose missions duplicate, overlap, or complement each other. Sadly, the difficulties involved with interagency communication and awareness often cause us to duplicate our efforts or reinvent the wheel instead of working together to bridge the gap between government services and the needs of a rapidly growing number of wounded warriors. Looking ahead, these soldiers, sailors and Marines will require support for decades. Even the best designed government services can’t do everything. We’d like to help.
The Many Hands Alliance is a proposed coalition of military-oriented charities whose goal would be to facilitate and encourage interaction, communication, and cooperation. Inspired by the motto, “Many hands make light work”, we hope the Alliance will foster increased sharing of resources, more efficient problem solving, and more effective and comprehensive solutions to the growing needs of our military community. One dream of ours is to coordinate a yearly conference or retreat that would bring medical personnel, recovering or newly injured service members and their families, charities who have a desire to help and vendors who offer innovative solutions together in one place where they can share problems and get the latest information on treatments and benefits. The idea is to provide continuing support to families after they leave the military hospitals and go back to their homes: one that will fill the gap between what the VA can reasonably provide and what veterans need. Many Hands would bring all interested parties together to extend the feeling of “family” that exists in the active duty forces to wounded veterans who deserve our support as well as our gratitude.
6. Keep the Cupboards Full. When a family travels far from home to be at a service member’s bedside, their own needs necessarily take a back seat to those of their loved one. Cafeteria and fast foods grow old quickly and are often unsuitable for families with small children. Honor Their Service would like to keep cupboards on the wards or in hospital-associated housing filled with nutritious and palatable nonperishable food items so families who don’t want to leave their loved one’s bedside have nutritious alternatives to convenience foods.