Q&A: How to support your troops this Veterans' Day

11.11.2010By

Troops Need You is a nonprofit that has delivers mission-essential supplies to US soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen in Afghanistan, Iraq, and even on the home front for healing. From grocery cards to help with overdue payments, the Virginia-based organization is there to take care of the men serving our country. Razoo chatted with Charity Corkey, press secretary for Troops Need You, to find out the soldiers’ biggest needs and how we can help.

Razoo: Your organization has a great name: Troops Need You. Tell us a little bit about why troops need us.

Troops Need You: Our troops both at home and overseas often have needs that, for whatever reason, aren’t being fulfilled by the military. For example, right now in Fort Hood there is a family of five paying daily hotel fees due to a lack of military housing. With hotel bills eating up their paychecks, they haven’t had enough money left for the basics — such as groceries and school supplies for their three children. The family contacted Troops Need You for support and we’ll be sending them gift cards for their local grocery store.

Overseas, the supply lines often cannot keep up with the need for equipment. Upon request, TNY is currently shipping surveillance equipment to a new outpost along the Pakistan border — our second shipment to this post! The soldiers told us that they used the first set of cameras to pinpoint and stop rocket attacks against their remote mini-base. Rocket attacks! It was a pleasure to tell all the Americans who donated the funds for those cameras that they actually helped save the lives of our troops.
We’re also sending a second shipment of urgently-needed GPS units to a unit in the 101st Airborne Division. They use them every day, on every mission.

Why was Troops Need You started?

Troops Need You was started to enable average, everyday Americans to directly support our troops.

What are some of the major challenges facing soldiers in combat?

Our goal is to help these men and women do their jobs as efficiently as possible. When soldiers are facing a lack of basic supplies — such as GPS systems, surveillance cameras, projectors, and weapon cleaning kits (all items that TNY has shipped within the past few months) — we do our best to raise support and get them what they need as quickly as possible.

What does your organization do to address those challenges?

TNY goes by the motto, “Listen, then Deliver.” We listen to the requests of our troops, and deliver exactly what it is that they need.

What’s a “battle buddy”?

In the military, soldiers and Marines never patrol alone. Instead they always have a battle buddy to be there for one another. So Troops Need You adopted that model to enable everyday Americans to support specific units and troops. By generously donating their money or time, the Battle Buddy is directly assisting our troops on the home front or overseas.

How does your organization stay in touch with the soldiers’ needs?

Several ways. Word of mouth is the biggest. Troops in combat are accustomed to civilian groups giving care packages, but once they see that we actually deliver supplies and equipment they need for their mission, word spreads like wildfire. We also regularly receive requests through a submission form on troopsneedyou.com, as well as offer our support directly to families at Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center. We also stay in touch with families and soldiers overseas who we’ve supported, and provide
additional assistance as needed.

What is your proudest story from working on the program?

We enabled the troops to stop rocket attacks by providing infrared hunting cameras!

The current wars in Afghanistan and Iraq can be a politically controversial issue. How does your organization bring together people with different political viewpoints on the current battle?

Starting and ending wars is a political decision, but as long as they are fighting most Americans want to support them. TNY strives to equip and protect our troops overseas by shipping them the equipment and necessities they need — from a shower system for an outpost that was bathing out of a rigged Porta-John, to infrared cameras that helped stop rocket attacks. On the homefront, Marine SGT Jim got his car towed because his handicapped placard expired and the military didn’t get him a replacement in time. SGT jim lacked the money to retrieve it right away and then had multiple surgeries–while the bill kept increasing. Once the bill hit $3,000 they were going to sell his car! Instead, we contacted the towing company, explained the situation, negotiated the bill down to $1,500 and wired the money. SGT King and his wife now have their only car back–and they are back on track, thanks to the donations of everyday Americans. No matter the political partisanship, these are missions that every patriotic American can support.

How are donations to Troops Need You used?

100% of Razoo online contributions are given to our troops. When supporters donate to a specific cause, such as TNY’s “Operation Restored Vision” project page onrazoo.com, their donations are channeled directly to that cause. Supporterscan view TNY’s spending on www.blippy.com, where all TNY purchases are logged publicly to promote transparency. Lt Col Egland has always run this as a volunteer and is passionate about this unprecedented level of transparency, accountability, effectiveness and efficiency. Who knows, maybe we could get government to run similarly some day?

What has Troops Need You found most effective in fundraising?

Getting the word out through television, radio, newspaper and magazines has really helped us scale up to support more troops.

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