Locals helping U.S. troops, their families with benefit
VAIL – When bad news hits soldiers’ families, the death can make it tough to deal with life, said retired Capt. Robert Rieve.To some families, when someone is killed in action their main income is lost. Day-to-day living becomes a challenge. Putting kids through college is insurmountable.”The government can’t step in and do every little thing,” said Rieve, a Vietnam veteran and the president of the Naval Special Warfare Foundation. Since 2000, the foundation has provided money for education, health and other programs for the wives and children of those who have served in the Naval Special Warfare, predominantly the SEALS.”In order to get a pension you have to serve 20 years,” said retired Master Chief Petty Officer Rudy Boesch, who served 45 years in the Navy and is now on the Naval Special Warfare Foundation board of directors. Boesch was a cast member in the first season of TV’s “Survivior.”
“There is help there, but it’s certainly nothing that you’d think it would be appropriate,” Rieve added.That’s why Paul Donen of Vail organized the first Vail Valley Armed Forces Week, a local fund-raiser to help support U.S. troops and their families through four military charities when a soldier is injured or killed on duty.The fund-raiser, tonight at the Tap Room in Vail, is part of a ski week that started Sunday and ends Friday at Vail and Beaver Creek. The week is open to all who currently serve or have served for the Department of Defense, Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Reserves, National Guard, defense civilians, defense contractors, plus law enforcement personnel, family and friends.In addition to the fund-raiser, 3 percent of the lodging and ski packages bought by those attending the Vail Valley Armed Forces Week will go to the foundations, Donen said. About 50 people are participating in the ski week.
“They’re supporting their colleagues and their families. They are supporting those who are losing their lives,” Donen said. “We’re hoping to raise $10,000 this year,” added Donen, who is planning another event for next year.The five-year goal is to raise $20 million, which will be put into an endowment, Rieve said.”Everybody is focused on Iraq, but we haven’t finished the job in Afghanistan,” Donen said. “There’s a lot to do. This war against terrorism is something we probably won’t see an end to in our lifetime.
“I’d like people in this valley to realize this is something beyond the Vail Valley,” he added. “Last Wednesday, a powder day, people were more concerned about the lift not opening at 8:30 in the morning. And yet there are thousands in this country who are petrified that if their telephone rings, somebody will tell them about a loved one who has been hurt or killed. It’s a value that we in this valley need to know.”Staff Writer Veronica Whitney can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 454 or email@example.com. Vail, Colorado