Veterans Groups Pitch in for Katrina Relief
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2005 Some of the nation's largest veterans organizations are pitching in to help displaced veterans, servicemembers and other victims of the Hurricane Katrina storm that devastated New Orleans and other parts of the Gulf Coast.
For example, the Veterans of Foreign Wars established an online donation form for people to donate to Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, according to a VFW news release. Since Sept. 6, the VFW headquarters in Kansas City had donated $100,000 each to the VFW departments of Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as $30,000 to Alabama.
Other VFW organizations also are providing donations, with the California VFW providing $15,000 to people in need in Mississippi and Louisiana, the release said.
James Mueller, VFW national commander, said he'd like to see his organization eventually donate a total of $2 million for Katrina relief.
The VFW also is providing one-time emergency grants of up to $500 each to VFW members and active duty military men and women who have been displaced or financially affected by the hurricane. Servicemembers need to contact the nearest military family support center to qualify for the aid. For information about the grant program, call (800) 839-1899. Those interested in providing donations for VFW efforts to help veterans and their families in the wake of Hurricane Katrina can access the organization's Web site at www.vfw.org.
The American Legion is providing immediate disaster relief grants of up to $1,500 to legionnaires displaced by Katrina, according to an American Legion news release. Members can apply for this aid by calling (800) 433-3318 toll-free, or accessing the organization's Web site at www.legion.org. Upon approval, money can be wired to an individual's credit card account to cover the cost of food, lodging, clothing and other necessities.
The American Legion also is accepting donations for its National Emergency Fund program to help victims of Katrina. People can pledge donations for the fund by calling (800) 433-3318 toll-free.
AMVETS members across the country have mobilized to help out Katrina victims, said Dick Flanagan, communications director at the organization's national office at Lanham, Md. Flanagan said AMVETS volunteers at the Armed Forces Retirement Home here are helping the veterans who've been transferred to Washington from the military retirement home in Gulfport, Miss.
Also, AMVETS members in New York are filling tractor-trailer trucks with clothes and other items for distribution to displaced persons at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Alexandria, La., Flanagan said. AMVETS also is providing phone cards for displaced veterans in Houston, he said.
Flanagan noted that AMVETS members in Texas are collecting clothes and comfort items to be distributed at Salvation Army outlets and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston.
More AMVETS information is available on group's Web site at www.amvets.org.
The Vietnam Veterans of America has pledged to assist "our fellow citizens in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi get through this horrendous natural disaster," noted VVA National President John Rowan in a recent VVA newsletter.
VVA says its contributions for Hurricane Katrina disaster relief will be used to purchase supplies like bottled water, food and other necessities for the hundreds of thousands of people rendered victims by the storm.
For more VVA information, see the organization's Web site at www.vva.org.