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Help the Heroes

In honor of Memorial Day, the Motley Fool salutes current and former military personnel and their families with a series of articles addressing common financial issues they face. Check out all of the Fool's Memorial Day articles.

Between the beer, barbeque, and baseball games this holiday weekend, be sure to take some time to remember those who have paid a high cost for our freedom.

One way to help wounded veterans and their families is through the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund. From 2000 to 2005, the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund paid close to $20 million to surviving family members of those who gave their lives in the line of duty. The fund made direct payments of $11,000 to surviving spouses and $5,000 to dependent children. In 2005 federal legislation was enacted and these payments were no longer necessary. All payments were coordinated with the Department of Defense casualty lists.

In January 2007, the Fund dedicated a $40 million world-class medical center at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston. While staffed by Department of Defense employees, all funding for this facility came from private donations.

Currently, the Fund augments the medical care provided by military hospitals. Most importantly, funds are provided to families of wounded warriors as they work to rebuild their lives. Soldiers often get optimal care when they are in a hospital but when they return home the family generally becomes the primary caregiver. It is critical that the family is involved and can afford to provide the necessary care.

Key facts

  • Over 20,000 soldiers have been wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • The amputation rate is 6% of those injured -- double that of previous wars.
  • Hundreds of soldiers have been horribly burned.
  • Eye injuries are far higher than any other war.

On a side note, one big supporter of the Fund is former shock jock Don Imus, who was fired by CBS (NYSE: CBS  ) for inappropriate comments. However, Mr. Imus raised millions for the military families through the Fund -- a fact that many of his critics self-righteously overlooked.

The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is recognized as "Best in America" by Independent Charities of America. All proceeds go directly to support its mission since all administrative costs are paid by the board of trustees.

Fool contributor Buz Livingston, CFP, appreciates your feedback and believes most consumers will benefit from professional advice. He does not own shares of any company mentioned. This column is dedicated to the memory of 2nd Lt. Joseph Taylor Laslie, Jr., USMC, Killed in Action, May 23, 1968 Republic of Vietnam, Quang Tri Province.

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