Mullen Lauds Organizations for Military Support
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
Special to American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2009 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff lauded 11 volunteer-based organizations today for their ingenuity and innovative efforts to improve the lives of military members and their communities.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the audience at the presentation of the Fisher House Foundation's 10th Annual Newman's Own Awards Program at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., Sept. 10, 2009. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The Newman’s Own Foundation awarded a total of $75,000 to the winners of the 10th Annual Newman’s Own Awards in a Pentagon ceremony here. The recipients were chosen from a pool of 112 applicants.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen praised the foundation and award recipients, saying he was overwhelmed by their support and unique abilities of giving back and reaching out to veterans.
“The organizations speak to the needs our military faces,” he said. “These kinds of efforts and organization and outreach are just huge.”
The 2009 Newman’s Own Award and donations were presented to the following organizations and programs:
-- USA Together, a Web site based in Los Altos, Calif., similar to Craig’s List where injured servicemembers and their families can post ads for needed goods, services and financial contributions. The Web site allows the public, businesses and other veterans support groups a way to reach out to servicemembers in need. USA Together was the top recipient and received $15,000 for its program.
-- Vets4Vets, a San Diego-based national peer support group that helps Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans recover from psychological injuries sustained in combat. The organization has helped more than a thousand veterans across the country. Vets4Vets received $10,000 for its program.
-- Homes for Wounded Heroes, a program based in League City, Texas, under the Bay Area Builder’s Association’s Support Our Troops, Inc., that has built homes for four military families of severely wounded troops at no cost to the families. A fifth home is under construction. The program is working to get other home builder associations around the country involved in similar programs. Homes for Wounded Heroes received $7,500 for its efforts.
-- Three Step Transformation, a Woodbridge, Va.-based program that provides online training to veterans and their families and gives resume-building assistance and job-placement opportunities. Three Step Transformation received $7,500 for its program.
-- Beck PRIDE Center for America’s Wounded Veterans at Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, Ark. The program provides education opportunities and learning assistance to wounded veterans. The program also provides physical and mental rehabilitation and helps veterans reintegrate into the civilian community. Beck Pride Center for America’s Wounded Veterans received $5,000 for its program.
-- Operation Patriot’s Call, of Winder, Ga. This partnership program between local veterans and civilians supports families of the 1st Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment with the Georgia Army National Guard currently deployed to Afghanistan. The program builds a network of support among the families to help instill the same sense of community and support active-duty military families receive when their loved ones deploy. Operation Patriot’s Call received $5,000 for its program.
-- Carolina Canines for Veterans, of Wilmington, N.C., provides disabled veterans with trained service dogs. Carolina Canines for Veterans received $5,000.
-- Camp C.O.P.E., Dallas; a program designed for children of deployed or injured servicemembers to help them develop coping skills and to deal with the effects of war and deployments. Camp C.O.P.E. received $5,000.
-- Support Our Wounded Heroes, of Pompton Plains, N.J.; a program of the Family & Friends For Freedom Fund, Inc., that provides grants and other support to families of wounded servicemembers. Support Our Wounded Heroes received $5,000.
-- Expanding the Comfort, of Burnsville, Minn.; a program that provides adaptive clothing to support the unique needs of wounded servicemembers, such as burn victims and veterans with prosthetics. Expanding the Comfort received $5,000.
-- Camp STRIDE Wounded Warrior Fall Family Retreat, of Rensselaer, N.Y.; a program that partners youth athletes and wounded veterans with similar disabilities for a three-day retreat of kayaking, rafting, camping and hiking. Camp STIDE Wounded Warrior Fall Family Retreat received $5,000 for its program.
The organizations are leading a sea of good will across the country, Mullen said. Still, he challenged them to expand their support and efforts to higher levels, citing that the needs of veterans, military members and their families are growing and will continue to evolve with time.
“I’m so grateful for what you’re doing,” the admiral said, “but we’re not there yet. Ask yourself how we take it to the next level.
“There are many wonderful ideas,” he continued. “Somebody has to grab them and make them real. Somebody has to create the action that is going to deliver to these young people who have sacrificed so much.”
The Newman’s Own Foundation also donated $100,000 to the Fisher House Foundation, which provides free housing for military families so they can be closer to loved ones recovering at military hospitals.
Since the competition began in 2000, the foundation has granted nearly $600,000 to 125 nonprofit groups to help their cause. The Newman's Own Foundation donates 100 percent of its after-taxes profits to charities and has donated more than $250 million to groups around the world. The awards were sponsored by the Fisher House Foundation and the Military Times Media Group.