The nation, writ large, has a moral responsibility to ensure the needs of veterans are met, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at a ceremony where the Newman's Own Foundation distributed funds to charities serving service members, their families and veterans.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford praised Newman's Own for its dedication to service members, veterans and their families. The group distributed $200,000 to five organizations during the Oct. 5, 2018 ceremony in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes.
Actor and World War II veteran Paul Newman founded Newman's Own in 1982 with the goal of donating all of the company's after tax profits to charities. In the years since, Newman's Own has donated more than $530 million to thousands of charities. In 1999, the company partnered with the Fisher House Foundation and Military Times publications to aim donations at innovative groups that improve the quality of life for service members, veterans and their families. Since it started, Newman's Own has recognized 179 programs with awards totaling $1,925,000.
Quality service members
"The reason the United States military has been able to do the things it does … throughout my career is because of the quality of young men and women we've been able to recruit over time," the general said at the ceremony.
When Dunford entered the military, the all-volunteer force, which began in 1973, was in its infancy. There were many critics who believed the force would fail. The all-volunteer military has become the superb force of today.
Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to James Ferguson, founder of the Warrior Reunion Foundation of Cockeysville, Maryland, during the 2018 Newman's Own Awards at the Hall of Heroes in the Pentagon, Oct. 5, 2018.
(DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Dominique A. Pineiro)
The American people do appreciate the military and the sacrifices military families make, Dunford said. "But I am concerned about keeping this up," he said. "It goes back to something George Washington said … 'The manner in which we treat our veterans will determine the willingness of future generations to serve.'"
He said the recipients of the Newman Own Awards this year cover the full spectrum of services Americans want their vets to have. "We would want them to have housing. We would want them to have a job. We would want them to have health care, and a piece of that is we would want them to be connected to men and women with which they served so they don't feel isolated when they leave active duty," he said.
Appreciation of troops’ service
What these groups — and many more like them across the nation — do "really does send a loud and clear message that we really do respect, we value, we appreciate the service of those in uniform," he said.
In 2018, the Warrior Reunion Foundation of Cockeysville, Maryland, received a $50,000 grant from Newman's Own. The group looks to help combat vets reconnect with their comrades they served in combat with. It lets veterans sit down with each other knowing that they experienced the same conditions, same uncertainties and sometimes the same traumas.
The Vets on Track Foundation of Garrisonville, Virginia, received a grant of $37,500. The foundation furnishes homes for vets and their families who were previously living in shelters or the streets.
Code Platoon of Chicago received $37,500 to educate vets and spouses to become software developers.
The West Virginia Health Right of Charleston received $37,500 to provide free dental care for West Virginia vets without dental coverage.And finally, Healing Warriors Program of Boulder, Colorado received $37,500 to help provide non-narcotic therapies for the treatment of pain and symptoms of post-traumatic stress for vets.
This article originally appeared on the United States Department of Defense. Follow @DeptofDefense on Twitter.