Help offered for war heroes

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 20, 2006

New group wants to reach out to River Region soldiers and families



NEW ORLEANS – A two-year organization to assist soldiers injured in the Iraq war, or the families of those killed, is reaching out to the River Region to offer help.

Support Our War Heroes is a group from the north shore which recently held a major fundraiser at the D-Day Museum, raising money for soldiers and their families, as well as raising awareness of their organization to reach others.

L’Observateur, and its parent company Wick Communications, was one of the sponsors of the special night where 19 soldiers and their families were honored.

President and Founder Suzy McDaniel said her group wants to reach more families, or the soldiers who are injured and need help.

&#8220We are getting better known all over the north shore to Baton Rouge, but so far we haven’t gotten much attention around LaPlace and that area,” she said. &#8220But we want soldiers and their families to know we are here to help them.”

Support Our War Heroes offers financial assistance to soldiers and their families who were killed or injured in the Iraq war, but also helps those families make sure they get all the benefits they deserve.

&#8220One of the stronger programs we conduct is the advocacy aspect of the organization,” she explained. &#8220There is so much red tape for someone injured, or even their surviving family members, who should get benefits for their service in the war. We had one soldier who was only getting 20 percent disability and he should have gotten 100 percent, so we helped him.

&#8220It’s pretty hard to navigate the bureaucracy when a soldier comes home and deserves certain benefits for an injury he may have. And some of them are lifelong injuries,” she added. &#8220We’re helping those people to make sure they get the help they deserve.”

McDaniel said she hopes more soldiers or their families who need help from the River Region will call her organization at 985-649-8137.

The special fundraiser held at the D-Day Museum included a silent auction, and $1,000 sponsorship tables for companies or individuals. McDaniel said they raised approximately $50,000 that night and expect it to be the first of an annual event to help these soldiers.

The evening was MC’d by Brigadier General Hunt Downer, with special guest speakers Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), author Andrew Carroll and Rear Admiral Tim McGee.

There were 19 soldiers from the area who were honored that night, including their families, with stories told of their bravery and heroism on the battlefield.

McDaniel said she began Support Our War Heroes after she had a horse riding accident, and was in rehab, where she met a soldier who had massive injuries from the Iraq war, from a roadside bomb.

&#8220I really was not aware of the problems these soldiers have when they come home, and I just knew I had to do something,” she said.

Married to a doctor with three children, and running her own wholesale furniture business, McDaniel still began forming the organization two years ago, which now has a 10-member board of directors and is a 301C charitable group.

&#8220We have a great group of volunteers and board members who are so motivated to help these soldiers and their families,” she said. &#8220And there is a great need since many of the financial benefits lag from when they are needed, just going through the red tape.”

She said the group is always looking for more volunteer help, but would also like to hear from anyone who would like to nominate a family for help, or from a soldier or family that needs help. Call 985-649-8137.