Organization's 'Secret Santa' program providing a total of $500,000 nationwide this month to injured veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan wars
WILTON, Conn., Dec. 21, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Each of the severely wounded military service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who attended last week's 6th annual Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute in Orlando, Florida returned home with an unexpected bonus beyond the benefits of the event itself – a $500 check from the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes (CSAH) meant to help their families have a brighter Christmas holiday.
Altogether, $50,000 was distributed by the CSAH to the 100 veterans and their approximately 400 family members who took part in the four-day conference at the Walt Disney World Swan Hotel that the organization presented in conjunction with The American Legion. The funds were part of a total of $500,000 that the CSAH expects to provide this month through its "Secret Santa" program to disabled service members from Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom across the country.
"We recognize that the holidays can be especially difficult times for veterans who are struggling to make ends meet," said David Walker, chairman of the CSAH board of directors. "Our donors wanted to ensure that these brave, patriotic men and women, who have sacrificed so much for their country, do not find themselves forced to choose between whether to provide their families with basic necessities, such as food or shelter, and having their children receive presents on Christmas morning."
The gift checks issued at the Road to Recovery Conference and Tribute were just one of the highlights of the all-expenses-paid event, which was designed to furnish the 500 attendees with access to a wide range of resources and services to enable them to rebuild their lives.
Among the presenters were experts from government, the private sector and other non-profit organizations who shared critical information on topics ranging from healthcare and insurance to employment opportunities and Post-Traumatic Stress. Furthermore, service members had the chance to attend a resume writing and interview skills workshop, a career fair, and breakout sessions where, with their spouses or guests, they learned about enhancing personal relationships, caregiver support, veterans housing benefits and many other subjects.
Outside the educational elements of the Conference, attendees also were given time to enjoy the Disney theme parks and treated to special entertainment, such as performances by the Lt. Dan Band, led by actor Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan Taylor in the movie "Forrest Gump") and country music artists The Redneck Tenors, Jamie O'Neal and Dennis Wilson.
Reaction to the event was overwhelmingly positive, as reflected by the many veterans who visited the CSAH's Facebook page to provide immediate feedback.
"Words cannot express how thankful my wife and I are for the chance to attend the 2010 Road to Recovery Conference in Orlando. We had an amazing time and learned a lot," said Steven M. Miner of Yulee, Florida. Added John Moore of Lake City, Florida: "My family and I could not thank you enough for this wonderful and outstanding event. Not only was it entertaining, but very informative and it was good to be with fellow OIF/OEF veterans."
Another attendee, Tim Stroud of TexVet, which communicates benefits and services to military veterans in Texas, praised the conference for not only having been planned "to ensure every aspect of recovery was covered," but also "executed to the precision of a Marine rifleman's inspection."
"The Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) screenings and interviews really made a difference for me," he said. "Since I was a combat medic in the army, I have always looked out for our men and women in uniform. These screenings will ensure those with 'hidden wounds' get the medical and relationship therapy that they deserve."
With the Conference now over, The American Legion will be providing follow-up services to the attendees in their respective communities across the country. For more information, contact the Coalition offices at (914) 432-5400 or visit its website at www.saluteheroes.org.
SOURCE The American Legion