America Supports You: Businessman Helps Families of Fallen Troops
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 6, 2005 "Freedom isn't free," asserted San Diego-area businessman James Lee. That's why, Lee said, he's promoting the sales of G.I.-styled bracelets to assist families of servicemembers who've been killed or wounded while serving in the war against terrorism.
The silicon-rubber bracelets bearing the inscription "For Those Who Serve" go for $1 to $5 on Lee's Web site. The bracelets are the color of the military's Purple Heart Medal.
"Customers can now choose their own purchase price," Lee emphasized, "all of which is donated to charities that support military members and their families. We just want to do something for these families," said Lee, 36, the proprietor of the Internet firm Dreamissary Inc. Many of his employees are married to military members who've served or are now serving in Iraq or Afghanistan, he said. The San Diego area, Lee also pointed out, has a strong military presence.
Lee said the Web site has generated more than $16,000 in bracelet sales since it was launched March 1. All proceeds are customer-selected for distribution among five charitable organizations: the Fisher House Foundation, Homes for Our Troops, Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund, Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Lee said the unique part about his project is that the entire purchase price goes to military charitable organizations. He also noted that people can view updates on the Web site on how their money is allocated.
"The 'book' is open on the Web," Lee explained. "Your purchase shows up on the Web site," which also indicates where the money goes.
The California entrepreneur said he'd love eventually to raise $25 million to $50 million through his Web site for servicemembers' charity funds.
"We're aiming high," he said. "We'll see."
Lee said he doesn't consider himself a patriot, noting that that appellation more rightly belongs to America's servicemembers and their families.
"I just feel like I'm doing my part as a citizen," he concluded.