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In wake of 9/11, families of troops wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq need assistance
By RUSTY DENNEN
As the nation remembers the terrorist attacks nine years ago today, among the victims are troops wounded in wars kindled in the wake of that tragedy, and their families.
For four years, the Families of the Wounded Fund Inc. has been trying to ease their pain, as well as their financial burdens.
Douglass Horstman, chairman of the Fredericksburg chapter of the Richmond-based fund, says that people are responding to the call for help. For example, a fundraiser next Saturday at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, is sold out.
"This is one of the biggest untold stories of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq--the tremendous stress on the families of the wounded," said Horstman, a Spotsylvania County resident who served in the Marine Corps and retired as vice president of Maytag Corp.
"We know there's a tremendous wellspring of support in this area. It keeps growing and growing each year."
More than 31,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in the war zones since 2003.
Established in 2005, the fund has helped nearly 300 families, who receive a check for $6,000 to help get them back on their feet after a wounded loved one returns from the war zone. Many of the troops, from all branches of the military, spend part of their time in treatment at the Veterans Administration McGuire Medical Center in Richmond.
"The families come in from all over the nation," Horstman said. "Some are very desperate, and under the worst of circumstances." Some of the wounded will require lifelong care, which means that families' ordeals don't end when a hospital stay is done.
Among those helped by the fund are a Marine gunnery sergeant who lost a leg in an explosion, and an Army captain wounded two years ago in Iraq, who has recovered and is working at Dahlgren.
William Haneke, president of the fund, was severely wounded in Vietnam as an Army captain. Shannon Mann, whose husband, Marine 1st Lt. Jason Mann, was killed two years ago in Afghanistan, serves on the fund's Fredericksburg-area board.
The dinner and reception at the Marine Corps Museum is one of the fund's largest fundraisers. Several wounded troops and their families will be there.
"We'll be putting the focus on the families and honoring their service," Horstman said.
Gen. James F. Amos, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, is keynote speaker.
So far this year, the fund has held an auction and two golf tournaments to raise money. In October, there will be a hunting outing at Rose Hill Game Preserve in Culpeper County in memory of Mann.
Horstman said all donations to the nonprofit fund go directly to families of the wounded.familiesofthewoundedfund.org
Rusty Dennen: 540/374-5431