Fund Helps Children and Spouses of Troops
By Steven Donald Smith
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 14, 2005 Rebecca Campbell started the Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund in 2003 to raise college tuition for the children of servicemembers killed in the war on terrorism.
The fund has since expanded to encompass other financial needs. It now aims to provide a wide range of assistance to the children and spouses of troops who have been killed or injured.
"These funds may be awarded to applicants of U.S. military families who are in need of assistance with housing, utilities, medical expenses, groceries, clothing, school supplies and other expenses deemed necessary in order to provide them with some support and alleviate their need," Campbell said.
She said she feels a real need for this type of allocation because of the financial void often experienced by a death in a military family. "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," she said.
CFSRF raises money through direct donations and fundraisers. The organization began collecting donations in May 2004, Campbell said.
"Through the generosity of the public we have raised a little over $85,000 and have kept administrative costs in 2004 to less than 9 percent," Campbell said. "All proceeds go directly to qualified families."
The nonprofit organization has also received the help of country singer Brad Cotter, the 2004 winner of USA Network's show "Nashville Star." The fund has been chosen as the beneficiary of a portion of the proceeds from Cotter's new single, "An American Dream," Campbell said.
CFSRF is made up exclusively of volunteers, and in an effort to keep expenses to a minimum Campbell does most work, such as Web site design, IRS filings, printing, advertising and mailings from her home, she said.
Campbell noted that none of the organization's board members has been affected personally by the loss of a servicemember. Campbell said her son, David, 25, served in Iraq for a year with the 82nd Airborne. "I cannot begin to explain the fearful and sleepless nights during his year of deployment," she said.
"The Children of Fallen Soldiers Relief Fund is simply a group of individuals who have a tremendous amount of respect for our servicemen and women," she said. "We are an enthusiastic group of family, friends and business people who choose to never forget the sacrifices made by others on our behalf."
CFSRF began taking applications from military families in January and granted its first round of awards, totaling $17,000, to families in California, Pennsylvania and Indiana in June.
Campbell concedes that there is no way to erase the pain of losing a loved one, but she still aims to lessen the blow.
"There is no substitute for a parent, but we strive to ease their pain and suffering and honor the memories of our fallen soldiers," she said. "I realize only too fully that each and every day that I have to live as a free person is only because of them and their sacrifices as well as their families."