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July/August Issue

red star bulletThe Veteran Departments : Featured Stories / President's Message / Government Relations / Membership Affairs Committee Report / Veterans Benefit Update / Ask The Parliamentarian / Region 5 Report / Veterans Against Drugs Task Force Report / SHAD/Project 112 Task Force Report / Government Affairs Committee Report / Chapel of Four Chaplains / AVVA Report / Homeless Veterans Task Force Report

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BY JIM BELSHAW

The National Leadership Conference in Tucson will hear from two representatives of an extraordinary confluence of veterans, non-veterans, and at least one corporate giant that actively supports severely wounded veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan. The effort, growing out of veterans' desire to help their own and the enthusiastic support of America's most recognizable do-it-yourself moving company, has brought relief and assistance to many wounded veterans and their families across the country.

The organizations the Wounded Warrior Project and Soldier Ride help veterans through public awareness campaigns, subsidizing the needs of families visiting injured service members at hospitals and overseas, offering peer support and counseling, and funding and sponsoring adaptive sports and recreations programs.


The moving company, U-Haul, founded by a Navy veteran and his wife in 1945 and long a supporter of veterans, will sponsor and promote the 2006 Soldier Ride campaign.

Al Giordano, the National Service Director and acting Chief Operating Officer for the Wounded Warrior Project, will give the Keynote speech at the awards luncheon on Friday, July 14, at the Leadership Conference. A Marine Corps veteran and attorney, Giordano is responsible for the management of all WWP programs benefiting the wounded.

Layton Baker, vice president of U-Haul International and a Vietnam veteran, will present a seminar on employment opportunities within U-Haul. Already employing more than 1,000 veterans, the company seeks to add substantially to that number.

The Wounded Warrior Project was founded by Giordano; John Melia, a former Marine who was injured in a helicopter crash in Somalia; Jim Melia, a former Army officer who is an FBI agent; John F. Melia (John's father), a retired Army colonel; and Stephen Nardizzi, an attorney with long experience working with veterans.

Soldier Ride, founded in 2004, has reached thousands of wounded servicemen and women, providing comfort items, counseling, and rehabilitation--all aimed at helping wounded veterans make the transition to independent lives once they have returned to their homes.

In 2004 and 2005, one of its members, Chris Carney, bicycled across to America draw attention to the need for support of wounded veterans. Many severely wounded veterans joined Carney on those rides and are doing so again in 2006.

In the early spring, the Soldier Ride 2006 bicycle journey began in New York with California as its end point. Created to recognize the sacrifices soldiers have made and to raise public awareness and support for the wounded and their families, Soldier Ride, in partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project, has gained the enthusiastic corporate support of U-Haul.

In April, U-Haul announced the sponsorship and promotion of Soldier Ride. The company said a U-Haul "Super Graphic," the familiar images seen on its trucks, would commemorate the 2006 Soldier Ride campaign. The new Soldier Ride Super Graphic, meant to encourage Americans to support veterans, will be placed on 200 new 10-foot moving vans.

Donations to Soldier Ride and the Wounded Warrior Project support programs and services that provide aid, rehabilitation, and family assistance to the wounded during their recovery and readjustment to civilian life.

More information may be found on www.soldierride.org and
www.woundedwarriorproject.org

 

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