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'Mail Call' Host Says 'Support the Troops'

By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2005 – "I want you to go to AmericaSupportsYou.mil let the troops let me know how you're supporting the troops. So support the troops. C'mon, that's what's all about," is the message the host and star of History Channel's "Mail Call" was promoting from the Pentagon Feb 11.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey wraps up the filming at the Pentagon for a future episode of his History Channel program, "Mail Call." While there, he chatted with the Pentagon Channel about why it is important that America support its troops and their families.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Former Marine Gunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey and a film crew spent Feb. 10 and Feb. 11 filming an upcoming episode of his show at the Pentagon. He wrapped the taping hoping that he had unraveled some of the mysteries of the "Puzzle Palace" for his viewers.

Then he sat down with the Pentagon Channel to encourage America to support the troops as he does.

When the war on terrorism started, this Marine and movie tough guy he's played military men in several war films - wondered what he could do to support the troops and "pull my share of the load."

"I'm too damn old to charge up that hill and kill the enemy anymore," Ermey said. "I found out that I can (pitch in) by helping the families of the troops. So that's basically been my objective for the past few years."

He achieves that objective through the Veterans of Foreign Wars Unmet Needs Program. Established to help alleviate the burden of military families in need, the VFW Foundation administers the program. It provides a wide array of assistance to those military families, Ermey said. For example, they can obtain help for basic, but often expensive, needs such as infant formula, medical fees, groceries, home and car repairs, and even rent or mortgage.

If military families find themselves in a legitimate predicament, they need only go to the Unmet Needs Web site and click on the box indicating that help is needed. From there, they have a choice of filling out an online application or printing the form and mailing it in. The application will be reviewed and appropriate action taken, Ermey said.

For those without access to a computer, foundation offers toll-free 1-866-789- 6333.

Donations of cash or time and skills can also be made through the Web site, along with separate links from which to choose to support the troops.

"I've found out, by way of email and telephone conversations with private citizens, that there's a lot of people in America that want to pull their share of the load. They may disagree with the war, but 100 percent of Americans agree that we need to support the troops," Ermey said. "But they don't know where to take the first step."

Web sites like America Supports You, with its numerous organizations that support the troops, and the VFW's Unmet Needs Program offer outlets for those wanting to contribute, he said.

Ermey has seen firsthand the reasons that it is so crucial for America to support its troops. After spending time with troops in both Afghanistan and Iraq, he realized that family issues making ends meet, unexpected situations - back home were distracting them.

"These young troops have stepped up to the plate," Ermey said. "I want to assure these young people over there that are making the sacrifice for this country that the people back home are looking after that family unit that they left back here, entrusted to us, while they go and fight the war for our benefit.

"The most important message I can relay to the young war fighters over there today is: 'We're looking after your folks here at home. You just kind of relax, get that off your mind and concentrate 100 percent on winning this war and getting your young tail back home safe and sound.'"

The Vietnam veteran added that he believes as long as there's progress in the terror war, the troops will be supported. "As long as we're making headway, I think we're going to be supported by even those who are a little questionable or hesitant about supporting the war," Ermey said.

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Related Sites:
America Supports You
VFW Unmet Needs Program

Click photo for screen-resolution imageGunnery Sgt. R. Lee Ermey has lived the life of a Marine and played the role of military tough guys in several war films. He continues what he calls his "Marine Corps addiction" through his History Channel program, "Mail Call," which is designed to answer viewers' questions on military technology. Recently, Ermey and a film crew spent time at the Pentagon trying to unravel some of the mysteries that lie with in the "Puzzle Palace." He also took time out to encourage America to support the troops through Web sites like the Department of Defense's America Supports You Web site as well as his cause, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Unmet Needs Program.  
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