When we were growing up, my husband recalls, schoolwork stopped at 11 a.m. on November 11, Veteran’s Day. Last month we did a lot of remembering at the Pearl Harbor memorial , and today — invited by Class of ’81 West Point alumnus Matt McCarville — we plan to attend a morning service at Princeton University Chapel, where the speaker will be Uwe Reinhardt, the healthcare economist and father of a Marine. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t have some harsh words regarding healthcare for veterans.
Several days later
Reinhardt did indeed have strong words about the nation’s failure to provide what veterans need: “We bicker over a GI Bill — we more than twice as rich as the World War II generation. . . I was shocked this year (when testifying in Congress) at one senator who sincerely believed (support) for veterans would be unsustainable. If I was rude, I was rude for a cause. There should never be a healthcare facility for veterans that wasn’t the best. …”
What sets military people apart: “their code of honor, the bonds that they form — so that they die for one another, and their determination to complete their mission even if they do not agree with that mission…”
Don’t thank the soldiers with casual words at airports, he said, “but by our resolve to make our country genuinely patriotic by caring for one another.”
A Million Dollar Thank You
What happened next was really amazing. At the end of his speech, someone stepped forward and presented a $1 million check, yes that’s right, $1 million for the Wounded Warrior Project to help severely injured soldiers make a transition to civilian life. It was astonishing. It was heartening.
It seems that the president of the Charles Evans Foundation (honoring the founder of the fashion house Evan-Picone) is Linda J. Munson, and Munson is a client of the MSM Group at Merrill Lynch. She was looking for a way to honor veterans. “As a trustee and president of the foundation, she asked us to find an organization that would benefit from a major gift,” says McCarville. He had served in the Special Operations Command in Desert Shield and Desert Storm and his last assignment, before retirement, was to command the ROTC unit at Princeton. Now he works with the fellow West Pointers in the MSM Group at Merrill Lynch.
McCarville found the Wounded Warrior Project, which honors and empowers wounded soldiers, doing everything from sending backpacks to hospitalized soldiers overseas to getting legislation passed that pays traumatically injured soldiers $100,000 up front, rather than after months of red tape. The Evans Foundation gift will provide scholarships for a 12-month training and rehabilitation program in Jacksonville, Florida. Wounded soldiers can get physical rehabilitation in a state-of-the-art facility plus earn 12 credit hours at Florida Community College, and work in paid internships.
Just 60 people attended this service, and had there been publicity about it, I think there would have been at least 100 more.