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VFW Ships One Million Phone Cards to Service Members

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 23, 2003 – Since late September, the Veterans of Foreign Wars has shipped 1 million free phone cards to service members and to veterans.

Since the program's inception six years ago, 2 million prepaid phone cards have been sent to active and reserve component military members serving overseas and to hospitalized veterans, noted Ron Browning, assistant adjutant general for development at VFW headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

With deployments of U.S. troops on the upswing in recent weeks, Browning pointed out that 45 percent of the total cards provided by the program have been delivered or shipped in the past 100 days.

"We're doing everything we can to physically meet the demand of the people being deployed," he remarked, suggesting it's especially important these days that service members know that people care about them.

Browning said the VFW receives 400 to 500 thank-you cards a day from service members who've used their prepaid phone cards.

Both corporate contributors, such as Wal-Mart and the National Football League, and individuals fund the phone card program, he said, noting the program relies on an extensive network of volunteers.

The program is heating up, Browning said, as the VFW is now receiving up to 50,000 requests a week for phone cards, compared to the 300 to 400 received in slower times. In fact, he said, an NFL Web site promoting the program has generated orders for more than 40,000 phone cards. Historically, people such as parents, spouses, other relatives and military commanders have requested the cards for service members and veterans, he said.

To request a phone card on behalf of a service member, visit www.operationuplink.org. To make a donation toward the purchase of cards for distribution, visit www.operationuplink.org/donate.cfm.

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