Philip D. Green recalls waking with a start at his Arlington home about nine months ago, feeling suddenly grateful that none of his three children were serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. One was safely ensconced in law school, another was in medical school, and the third was giving farming a go.
But mulling it over further, Green, the 62-year-old president of PDG Consulting, a Washington-based health-care consulting firm, began to think about those parents whose sons and daughters are serving in combat zones.
“It occurred to me they have the same sleepless nights I was trying to avoid,” Green said Tuesday. “It was fundamentally unfair.”
On Wednesday, the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) will announce the launch of the Veteran Support Fund, which grew out of Green’s revelation.
The fund has a goal of collecting $30 million for the IAVA and four other veterans groups, money Green hopes to raise from families like his: those without members serving in the military.
“There’s enormous wealth in this country, and many of the particularly wealthy folks, I suspect, are those whose sons and daughters didn’t serve,” said Green, whose wife, Elizabeth L. Cobbs, is a physician and chief of geriatrics, extended care and palliative care at the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington.
Paul Rieckhoff, founder of the IAVA, said, “They want people to know that they can do more than show a yellow ribbon.”
Green is joined in the effort by two friends, Glenn Garland and Jim Stimmel, both executives with Clearesult, an energy optimization company based in Austin.
To jump-start the fund, the Green family donated $600,000, while the Garlands and the Stimmels each donated $250,000.
The other organizations to be aided by the fund are the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which seeks to help the families of military members who die in service; the National Military Family Association, which works on behalf of programs and benefits supporting military families; Operation Homefront, which provides emergency financial aid and other assistance to military families; and Operation Mend, which provides lifelong support to the most critically injured Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.
“None of these organizations are swimming in money, but they’re all seeing demand for their services go through the roof,” Rieckhoff said.