As a former Marine and former officer of the Marine Corps League (MCL), San Diego Bulldog Detachment, I became involved with visiting Operation Iraq Freedom (OIF) Marines that were being treated at the Naval Medical Center here in San Diego. For over nine years, on a weekly basis numerous 18-21 year-old Marines have been arriving at the hospital suffering from devastating injuries. The United States Marine Corps goes above and beyond to support Marines and their families, but there are limits to the amount of funding available to accommodate the families of injured Marines. The Department of Defense regulations only provides financial assistance to two family members for a limited period of time. I witnessed firsthand the financial impact that these injuries had on the young families flying in to be reunited with their loved ones. For many, it seemed that getting to San Diego was the easy part. However once the families got here, the high costs associated with staying in “America’s Finest City” for more than even a few days, was causing a huge financial burden on our Marines and their families. It was clear that some organization needed to help ease the burden on these families. This is where the San Diego Bulldog Detachment of the MCL stepped in. We are doing our best to arrange for reasonably priced hotel rooms, obtaining rental cars at reasonable rates, and we are even providing gift certificates to local restaurants for these families.
I discovered that the Armed Forces YMCA as well as the Navy League are providing some assistance to the neediest families, but the application process is painstakingly slow. When this fund was started in April of 2003, it was brought to my attention that other organizations were attempting to help the families, but the application process was lengthy. What I also learned was that it was next to impossible to obtain immediate financial assistance for a family who flew into San Diego on a late Friday evening flight or at any time during the weekend. We realized that there was a need to provide immediate financial aid to those families who arrived with nothing more than a suitcase and several nearly “maxed-out” credit cards. Accordingly, the San Diego Bulldog Detachment of the Marine Corps League developed this fund solely to ease the financial burden of the families while temporarily in San Diego. Several former and current officers of the San Diego Bulldog Detachment, as well as the Marine Corps Liaison’s Office at the Naval Medical Center San Diego administer the fund. We are providing a quick, simple solution to these families until some of the more traditional methods and grants can be applied for through the Armed Forces YMCA or similar organizations.
The Marine Corps League is seeking financial contributions to assist in this fund. Please be advised that these young families are not staying at the downtown Hyatt and they certainly are not eating at George’s at the Cove or Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. We are assisting in paying for rooms at the local Best Western and Ramada Inn, to name only a few. We are distributing gift certificates for vehicles at Enterprise and Avis. We are also providing gift certificates to McDonald’s and Rubio’s. The needs are many and your assistance is desperately sought.
The MCL was founded by Major General Commandant, John A. Lejeune, in 1923 and chartered by an Act of Congress on August 4, 1937. Its membership of nearly 56,000 consists of honorably discharged, active duty, and Reserve Marines with 90 days of service or more, as well as retired Marines. It includes officer, enlisted, male and female members.
The MCL is classified as a veterans/military service organization and was formed for the purposes of promoting the interests of the U. S. Marine Corps, to provide camaraderie and assistance to Marines, as well as to their widows and orphans, and to preserve the traditions of the U. S. Marine Corps. It is a not-for-profit organization within the provisions of Internal Revenue Service Code 50l (c) (4), with a special group exemption letter which allows for contributions to the Marine Corps League, its Auxiliary and subsidiary units, to be tax deductible by the donor. League members participate in the Veterans Administration Voluntary Service Program, which is an assistance program for hospitalized veterans. We also participate in a national Service Program, which provides assistance to veterans in a wide area of matters relating to their military service. The League also awards scholarships; sponsors a National Youth Physical Fitness Program; provides membership incentives; participates in patriotic functions; and provides representation to the U. S. Congress in legislative matters affecting the U. S. Marine Corps, national security and veteran’s benefits. Most notably the Marine Corps League participates in Toys for Tots and other community based programs.
If you can provide assistance, please make your check payable to: “MCL-Operation Injured Marine Fund”. Please forward your check to: Marine Corps League, San Diego Bulldog Detachment #835, Post Office Box 503173, San Diego, CA 92150. We will promptly send a receipt acknowledging your contribution as well as providing a receipt for IRS purposes. No money from the fund will be used for Marine Corps League purposes. The MCL-Operation Injured Marine Fund has no paid positions and relies on volunteers, donors and gratuitous services.
Unfortunately, it appears that we will be receiving Marines at the Naval Medical Center San Diego for the foreseeable future. These young Marines and their families need your support. Please give what you can. A $100.00 contribution can pay for a meal and a hotel room for one night! As of October 1, 2013 there were approximately 145+ acute trauma injured Marines in the hospital. There are hundreds more at Camp Pendleton stationed with the Wounded Warrior Bn. West. That is a lot of hotel rooms, rental cars and meals that are needed.
For additional information, please contact Richard Williams (work) 619-615-5336 or at firstname.lastname@example.org Information concerning the Marine Corps League can be found at: www.mcleague.org
Richard A. Williams
Injured Marine Fund Coordinator