With origins dating back more than six decades, the Purple Heart Foundation has a long history of supporting initiatives for military veterans and their families. The group’s activities help ensure that the nation’s veterans can lead fulfilling lives after transitioning from military service.
Over the years, the Foundation has led programs that provide education, occupational training, health services, and support for those dealing with combat-related injuries and disabilities.
While the Purple Heart Foundation oversees several of its own programs and service initiatives, the group mainly functions as the fundraising arm of the Military Order of the Purple Heart (MOPH). Launched in 1932, the Order is the country’s only military service organization with a membership body made up entirely of Purple Heart recipients.
With support from the Foundation’s donors and fundraising activities, MOPH has been able to launch and grow a wide range of programs for the nation’s military community. Whether you are already a Purple Heart Foundation supporter or just now considering making a donation, take a look at some of the MOPH programs that receive funding from the Foundation’s donor dollars:
MOPH National Service Program
MOPH operates on an annual budget of approximately $6.4 million. Nearly $5 million of this is directed toward its National Service Program (NSP). Each year, approximately 125,000 veterans and their family members receive assistance via NSP. It operates through a nationwide network comprising 72 service offices staffed by over 100 trained National Service Officers.
The Order’s team of National Service Officers assist veterans in filing benefits claims with Veterans Affairs (VA). Regardless of whether they are a member of MOPH, veterans whose benefits have been denied by a local VA office can also turn to NSP for expert legal representation before the Board of Veterans Appeals and the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Among other things, NSP assists with VA claims related to employment, housing, education, job training, and medical care. Over 12,000 claims were submitted to the VA through the program in fiscal year 2017.
Purple Heart Trail
For more than 25 years, MOPH has been overseeing the Purple Heart Trail program. It aims to create a nationwide connected system of roadways, bridges, and monuments honoring the country’s Purple Heart recipients.
The idea for the Trail was first introduced by a member of MOPH Chapter 1732 in Virginia. The program was launched as an MOPH resolution during the organization’s 1992 National Convention in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Following the launch of the Purple Heart Trail, the first monument was dedicated in Mt. Vernon, Virginia, George Washington’s burial location. Since then, the trail has been extended to 45 states as well as the United States territory of Guam. The local roads, highways, and monuments that make up the Trail are marked by signs of various designs and formats.
In addition to roadways and physical monuments, government leaders and citizens of local municipalities can work with MOPH to establish Purple Heart cities, counties, universities/colleges, etc. To find more information about the Purple Heart Trail and a map of current Purple Heart locations, visit www.purpleheart.org.
POW/MIA and Homeless Veteran Outreach
In addition to honoring men and women who have been wounded in combat, MOPH has worked throughout its history to ensure that prisoners of war and those reported missing in action are remembered and accounted for. The Order maintains a close relationship with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which oversees a searchable online database of both unaccounted-for and accounted-for POWs/MIAs. MOPH provides a link to the DPAA database on its website.
Another area of focus at MOPH is homelessness among military veterans. While this issue has improved in recent years, it still persists. As part of MOPH’s efforts to assist veterans who have been displaced without a permanent residence, local chapters across the country participate in Stand Down events.
These provide food, shelter, clothing, medical support, and other services for the veteran community. On the national level, the Order works closely with VA and other groups to connect those in need with homelessness resources.
Promoting Americanism and Good Citizenry among Youth
Another major component of MOPH’s work is focused on promoting patriotism and a love of US history in the nation’s schools. The Order does this under the leadership of its National Americanism Officer, who helps connect teachers and leaders of other organizations with various educational resources.
These resources include printable PDF versions of patriotic songs and historical documents. MOPH’s website features PDFs of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and The Star-Spangled Banner, among other documents.
The Order also encourages young people to serve their country through its support of senior and junior ROTC programs in public schools across the United States and Department of Defense schools worldwide.
Additionally, MOPH is currently working through its Veterans Affairs Volunteer Service program to create a new merit badge for the Boy and Girl Scouts of America. The proposed badge would recognize youth for volunteering their time to serve the nation’s veterans.
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