|16 Oct 2008
POW/MIA flag, the League receives no royalties from their distribution
Newsletter: October 16, 2008
Dear League Members,
This letter is to alert you to an alarming reality – without your immediate help, the National League of POW/MIA Families, our small non-profit organization that has effected such great change in our country, may soon be forced to close its doors.
A major part of our mission is closely monitoring and urging the support of governments – U.S. and foreign – to achieve our longstanding objective: the return of all POWs, the fullest possible accounting for the missing, and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War. Our cause requires national involvement and support, both to help fund our efforts and to participate in calling on elected and appointed leaders to honor commitments to leave no one behind, to make every reasonable effort to return these men to our country and to us, their families and friends.
With the support and action of some very dedicated U.S. officials, we’ve succeeded far beyond what anyone thought possible when formed in 1970; as of this writing, 834 US personnel have been accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, though much remains to be done.
Beyond our narrow, threefold goal, we have also offered the prospect of final answers to countless thousands of Americans who lost loved ones in earlier wars, setting the bar high on the need to stand behind those who served and sacrificed, and will serve and sacrifice, for our country. Due to the League’s efforts, an unprecedented national accounting objective has set the example and now is emulated by other nations seeking answers on their own countrymen who served and never returned.
The League’s success was evident most recently in the countless number of ceremonies held across our country and literally around the world to commemorate National POW/MIA Recognition Day, for most on September 19th, the date proclaimed by the President. Most observers would assume by looking at the vast sea of POW/MIA flags across our country that the League receives royalties and therefore has no funding challenges.
Though recognized by the U.S. Congress in law and successive Presidents by proclamation as having originated the POW/MIA flag, the League receives no royalties from their distribution. Though the League spends less than 10% on administrative and fundraising expenses, is a 501[c]3 nonprofit, tax-exempt (FEIN #23-7071242) organization, and donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law, U.S. flag manufacturers sadly don’t even donate a small percentage of their profits to help sustain our efforts.
Our determination to meet the League’s longstanding goals has never faltered, despite ups and downs in the attention level of our government and the American people. Some – both in and out of government – mistakenly believe that the League is US Government-funded. That false assumption is sometimes promoted by those making this and other such claims, trying desperately to undercut or destroy our organization. Their efforts have failed.
The reality is that sustaining an office (rent, storage, insurance, salaries, phones, postage, printing, Internet, etc.) in the Washington, DC, area takes money, about $12,000 per month, or $72,000 for six months, an amount that does not include special activities, such as public awareness brochures, delegations to Southeast Asia, and sending speakers around the country. Maintaining a viable presence in our nation’s capital is central to the League’s ability to represent the POW/MIA families to the Vietnamese, Lao, Cambodians and other foreign officials, as well as Congress, the national media and the Administration. There is no substitute for having our national office, but it can’t continue without funds.
These are the facts we face, and this alarming reality is what prompted us to make a heart-wrenching decision. If unable to bring in sufficient funds by the end of this year – December 31, 2008 – to sustain our national office for at least six months, the League as we know it will be dissolved. There will be no other choice.
That is why we are turning to you, the members – families and concerned supporters – to appeal for donations. We know you must share our dismay and concern over the prospect of leaving the fate of our POW/MIAs solely in the hands of US and foreign governments, without the scrutiny and advice that the League has so consistently provided over these many years.
Generous donations are urgently needed, not only from League members, but other concerned citizens and organizations that recognize what the League has done for our country and why the League must continue. There is no organization that has done more to account for our POW/MIAs – unreturned veterans – still missing from the Vietnam War.
The League has generated – and continues to generate – productive results, whether advocating additional resources and personnel for field operations, new facilities, or to garner high level support wherever needed. Also important is our voice to the governments of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia with whom we maintain frequent contact. Examples are far too many, and over too many years, to list in this letter, but they are well known to those who care, deal with facts and know the region. Only a lack of funds prevents the League from doing even more to realize our goal.
Additional donations must come now, so please look to yourselves, and spread the word. Ask your friends, churches, businesses, veterans, professional athletes (NASCAR, NHRA, football, basketball & soccer teams) – really all Americans – to help now!
Unless all of you step forward, donate generously yourselves, and ask for help, the League will not be able to continue. We’re not giving up without a fight, but we can’t do it alone. It is up to you, and we’re appealing for your help. There is no more time to wait.
Hopefully and in faith,
Jo Anne Shirley Mark Stephensen
Chairman, Board of Directors Vice-Chairman, Board of Directors
MIA Sister MIA Son (Remains Returned)
Sue Scott Karen McManus
Secretary, Board of Directors Treasurer, Board of Directors
MIA Sister POW Sister (Returned)
Pamela M Cain David F Gray, Jr, LtCol USAF (Ret)
Board of Directors Board of Directors
MIA Daughter Returned POW
Gail V Innes Ann Mills Griffiths
Board of Directors Executive Director
MIA Sister (Remains Returned) MIA Sister