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september/october 2007

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Public Affairs COMMITTEE REPORT

BY KEITH KING, CHAIR
As many of you may have already heard, we are launching a major fund-raising campaign to benefit our service officer program. The use of coin collection cans takes a lot of dedicated people to ensure its success. We are honored that the Elks have joined us in this endeavor. We were quite surprised to read their motto: “As long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.” We hope you enjoy reading a brief history of their outstanding work on behalf of our veterans and join with us in thanking the Elks for their support of VVA.

Dear Readers,
The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks of the United States of America has been involved with our nation’s veterans for many years. Let me give you a brief history of our commitment to our veterans.

1917, the world was at war. The Order of Elks determined they needed to help. They decided their first consideration would be the sick and wounded on the battlefields of France and to equip base hospitals for their care. During World War I, the Elks organized and equipped the first two base hospitals to reach France.

In 1918, to accommodate the maimed and wounded, the Elks built a 700-bed Reconstruction Hospital in Boston and gave it to the federal government. This hospital was the forerunner of today’s VA Medical Centers. That same year, the Elks built a 72-room Community house to take care of families visiting the forty thousand soldiers stationed at Camp Sherman, Ohio. Additionally, more than seventy thousand Elks served in the Armed Forces during World War I, and over one thousand made the ultimate sacrifice.

During World War II, the U.S. Army asked the Elks to help recruit 45,000 young men for the ground crews of the Army Air Corps. The Elks, with the help of the local lodges, recruited 97,000 men.

The Elks have continued their dedication to the military. During the Vietnam War, the Elks started a “letters from home” campaign. When the Elks learned Vietnam veterans were sweltering in Tripler Army Medical Center, they provided 24 air conditioning units so the wounded could recover in relative comfort.

Since 1986, the Elks have worked with Re-Creation, a group of young people who travel the country visiting and entertaining our hospitalized veterans. The Elks have been writing letters and sending gift boxes to troops in the conflicts in the Middle East. In 2002, the Elks and Bugles Across America joined together. The mission of this dedicated group is to make sure that all veterans will make their final journey home with dignity.

The Elks hold veterans in the highest esteem. It can be evidenced by the Veterans Memorial building in Chicago, which was constructed and dedicated to the veterans in all conflicts. It is also shown in the work the Elks do in the VA hospitals. In our latest program, the Elks are partnering with the Vietnam Veterans of America in a coin can collection campaign to help our returning veterans get the care they deserve.

Our story is long; our work is humble; our history is proud. We have a motto that reads “As long as there are veterans, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks will never forget them.” We are proud to join the Vietnam Veterans of America in their efforts to support our veterans.

Sincerely,
F. Louis Sulsberger,
Grand Exalted Ruler, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
of the United States of America

 

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