September 18, 2014
   
Mass. Military Heroes Fund Off to a Fast Start

June 9, 2009 — Launched just before Memorial Day this year, the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund has already garnered government and foundation funding for its mission to provide support, programs, and services to the Massachusetts families of military service personnel who have died in the line of duty in the years since September 11, 2001.

The Fund anticipates annual revenue of $100,000 from sales of the “United We Stand” license plate, issued by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles since 2002.

One hundred and forty men and women with Massachusetts ties have been killed in the line of duty since September 11, 2001. The families of 48 of them had already registered with the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund by its initial launch on May 21.

For its first family programming event—an outing to the Boston Red Sox game on July 5—the Fund received a grant from the Gordon Foundation to underwrite ticket costs.

In addition to sponsoring community-building activities to bring the families together, the organization also offers referrals to mental health providers, legal services, and financial/estate planning. Advocating for families, the Fund helps its registered members obtain social services, insurance payments, and other benefits.

The Fund’s launch was a family affair, as the Massachusetts families of some 9/11 victims joined with Sen. Edward Kennedy to announce the Fund’s creation.

“As a collective group of families who had experienced the outpouring of support from Senator Kennedy and numerous organizations and individuals after 9/11, we wanted very much to help the families of the military men and women who gave their own lives because of what happened to our loved ones,” said Cindy McGinty, a 9/11 widow and a member of the Fund’s board of directors.

McGinty is one of a number of the Fund’s board members who lost a family member on 9/11. Parents of several military members who have died in action after 9/11 serve on the Fund’s Family Advisory Committee. Social events and a practical “Family to Family” program for the recently bereaved are designed to provide mutual support to both.

With the advisory committee and board of directors overseeing fundraising and special events, Executive Director Diane Nealon, a licensed social worker with experience assisting survivors of trauma and grief, provides clinical case management, especially to help address obstacles to benefits and coordinate social services.

Board member Christie Coombs, whose husband died aboard American Airlines Flight 11 on 9/11, told the launch audience that the Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund was inspired by experiences she shared with families of other 9/11 victims. With the help of Senator Kennedy, these 9/11 families “became this one big family...able to be a resource to each other, help each other through the rough spots,” Coombs said. “That’s what these families need as well, and they’ve expressed that to us.”

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