Six charities that serve the military community in a variety of ways — from providing legal services to veterans seeking federal benefits, to linking pets with troops and veterans — have joined the two military-related charity federations under this year's Combined Federal Campaign.
Between the two federations — Military Family and Veterans Service Organizations of America and Military Support Groups of America — there are 122 military-related charities, including many well-known names such as Fisher House Foundation, Semper Fi Fund, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors and USO.
"If a donor is looking for ways to support the military, [the federation] narrows it down and helps folks target their giving," said Keith David, managing director of Task Force Dagger Foundation, which joined the Military Support Groups of America federation this year. "The CFC booklet is large, and unless you know which charity you want to support, it can be a daunting task to figure out."
Task Force Dagger Foundation officials hope that being part of the MSGA federation will raise awareness of their charity, and enable them to help more troops and families.
Established in 2009, the foundation provides assistance to wounded, ill or injured soldiers of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, and their families, and the families of USASOC casualties. In addition, the foundation sponsors recreational therapy events such as scuba diving trips to Florida for these families, and is expanding to include activities such as whitewater rafting, horseback riding and fishing.
Other charities that are new to the fold:
Military Family and Veterans Service Organizations of America, mfvsoa.org, which now has 71 charities:
■ National Veterans Legal Services Program, which helps active-duty members and veterans of all eras get the benefits they are entitled to due to disabilities resulting from their military service. The legal help is free.
Military Support Groups of America, militarysupportgroups.org, which now has 51 charities:
■ Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, whose mission is to preserve the history and traditions of the Marine Corps. Previously, the foundation has been included in its local CFC campaign. But the National Museum of the Marine Corps has broad appeal across the country, so officials hope that being part of the military-related federation will help it reach more people. Donations will be used to help fund the completion of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, said retired Marine Lt. Gen. Robert "Rusty" Blackman Jr., president and CEO of the foundation. Construction will begin in 2015 to effectively double the size of the museum, he said.
■ Blue Star Families, created in 2009 by military spouses, now has 95,000 members at 46 chapters around the world. The organization works with civilian communities and leaders to address the challenges of military life. Among its programs are Books on Bases, Blue Star Museums, Blue Star Theatres and spouse employment initiatives. It has recently developed a "caregivers empowering caregivers" program.
■ Higher Ground Sun Valley, which includes a military component that uses outdoor sports and coping therapies to help service members with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The charity hosts eight-week-long sports camps each year. The camps are free, and staff therapists schedule follow-ups with the participants for three years or more after they complete their programs.
■ Pets for Patriots, which aims to save last-chance shelter pets and enrich the lives of service members and veterans by helping them adopt these pets.
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.