Soldier for Life: Ranger veterans cultivate network at Columbia University
Participants of Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund’s Collegiate Access Program Gain Acceptance to Prestigious Academic Programs
MANHASSET, N.Y., June 26, 2017 — Mike Nolin and Levi Schmitt, two participants in Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund’s Collegiate Access Program (CAP), have been accepted to attend Columbia University’s undergraduate program. In addition, both Schmitt and Nolin have been invited to take part in the prestigious Warrior-Scholar Project (WSP) before enrolling at Columbia. Nolin, who is a Purple Heart Recipient, will be attending a WSP course hosted by Texas A&M in the Spring. Schmitt will be attending a WSP course at University of Michigan this Fall.
The WSP empowers enlisted military veterans by providing them with a skill bridge that enables a successful transition from the battlefield to the classroom and increases the confidence they will need to successfully complete a rigorous four-year undergraduate program at a top-tier school.
Schmitt and Nolin credit Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund with providing the resources to encourage and assist their academic trajectories. CAP is designed to help Rangers returning from active duty as they navigate through the reintegration process. Ultimately, the central mission of CAP rests on providing the professional and academic support needed to ensure that Rangers have a rewarding and prosperous civilian life.
“This is a great result for our guys. We’re always excited to help Rangers seek out new opportunities,” said Myles Grantham, who coordinates the Collegiate Access Program (CAP). “And even as they start their academic careers, Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund will continue to help them achieve their goals.”
Upon completing the WSP course and enrolling at Columbia, Nolin says he hopes to join either the Columbia golf team or football team. Meanwhile, Schmitt says he is eager to gain access to the Columbia engineering department’s MakerSpace and become more familiar with the technology of 3D printing. He is also looking forward to joining the Columbia Against Modern Slavery Club so he can coordinate the group’s efforts with those of the HERO Corps program to combat human trafficking on a wider scale.
Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund, Inc., A 501c3 Non-Profit, Is An Active Duty, Casualty Assistance, Recovery, Transition And Veterans Organization That Provides Financial Support, Beyond What The Government And Veterans Affairs Can Offer, To U.S. Army Rangers And The Families Of Those Who Have Died, Have Been Disabled Or Who Are Currently Serving In Harm’s Way Around The World.
PHOENIX — It is an oddity in the life of Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg that whenever President Obama visits the Phoenix area, there is a chance the two will visit.
The soldier and the president had met five times before Friday, with a sixth seeming almost inevitable given the confluence of the men’s schedules.
Obama was in Phoenix on Friday, visiting the Veterans Affairs hospital. That same morning, Remsburg was being handed the keys to a newly remodeled home in Gilbert, one that will help the partly paralyzed Army Ranger live independently.
At about 1:55 p.m., while Remsburg was enjoying a catered barbecue in his new backyard and breaking in the new “kegerator” installed in his new tiki bar, a knock came at the door. It was the Secret Service saying the president was about a half-hour away.
“It was unexpected, but very appreciated,” Remsburg would later say about the visit. “I mean, think about it. How many people can say the president of the United States stopped by and said Hi?”
Fewer can say they met the president six times. Each meeting has had its own time and tone, as would Meeting 6.
Meeting 1 was solemn and incidental: Normandy, France, 2009, the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landing. Obama was there to pay homage. Remsburg was a member of an honor guard. The two spoke briefly, and a White House photographer gave Remsburg a keepsake photo.
Meeting 2 came by chance: a hospital ward, Bethesda, Md., 2010. Remsburg, who had returned to combat duty in Afghanistan after D-Day, had been hit by an improvised explosive device. The blast threw him in the air, and when he landed, he lost a chunk of his skull and was left in a coma. Awaking, he found he had lost much of his ability to walk and to speak. He was flown to a military hospital.
When the president came to visit, he noticed a photo hanging on the wall — a photo of him standing next to a young soldier at the D-Day memorial.
Obama realized that soldier in the photo was the barely recognizable patient in front of him. It kindled a relationship between the commander in chief and the soldier struggling past his war wounds and learning to walk, talk and eat again.
Meeting 3 was private: Desert Vista High School, Ahwatukee Foothills, 2013. Obama had come to Phoenix to give a speech. Aides arranged for the two to meet privately; Obama saw Remsburg’s progress with physical therapy.
Meeting 4 couldn’t have been more public: in the balcony of the House of Representatives, seated next to first lady Michelle Obama, January 2014. The Obamas had invited Remsburg to the State of the Union address, and in it, Obama told Remsburg’s story to the nation and the world. “Like the Army he loves, like the America he serves, Sergeant 1st Class Cory Remsburg never gives up and he does not quit,” Obama said, and the chamber rose to give a standing ovation.
Meeting 5 was reminiscent: France, June 2014. Both men attended ceremonies to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.
Which all led up to Meeting 6.
Craig Remsburg, Cory’s father, said he had received calls months ago from White House staff wanting to be involved in the unveiling of Remsburg’s new home.
The house was bought by the Lead the Way Fund, a charity that aids wounded Army Rangers. It was remodeled by Homes for Wounded Warriors, a charity started by NFL player Jared Allen. Construction began in August.
Craig Remsburg said the initial suggestions involved Obama sending a video greeting to Cory Remsburg. “It was recently upgraded to ‘He’s going to be in town — maybe,’ ” Craig Remsburg said.
All of these plans were kept as a surprise for Cory Remsburg, who had no inkling that he would meet the president a sixth time.
Neither did guests. Tom Bulinski, who worked on the landscaping for the home, and Alison Christian were leaving the barbecue at about 1:30 p.m. They turned back, Bulinski said, when they saw police officers crowded in the parking lot of a nearby church. They figured Obama was on the way.
Craig Remsburg answered a knock on the door just before 2 p.m. It was the Secret Service. They told guests they could either leave or submit to a security screening and stay. Just before the president arrived, agents could be heard directing guests where to stand in the backyard.
Obama entered the backyard and addressed the crowd on a microphone.
“I thought I’d just stop by; I was in the neighborhood,” Obama said as guests stood by the backyard pool. “I didn’t bring my swim shorts, though.”
Obama said he is proud of Remsburg. “There are a whole bunch of Corys out there,” he said, “and not all their wounds are as easily seen. We’ve got to be just as vigilant, just as generous and just as focused in making sure that every single one of our men and women in uniform, that they’re getting what they’ve earned and what they deserve.”
Obama left behind gift baskets he said were from him and the first lady. Among the goodies were jars of honey made at the White House and bottles of White House honey blond beer and honey ale.
Remsburg said he and Obama chatted briefly — a ” ‘keep up the good work’ kind of conversation.”
Remsburg, who goes through hours of physical and occupational therapy each week, is still an enlisted soldier and respects the unique opportunity he has had to meet with his commander in chief.
“I’m just a sergeant first class,” Remsburg said. “I’m no big deal. He’s the commander in chief. He’s a very big deal.”
Obama Reinforces Bond With Wounded Veteran at Arizona Home
By MICHAEL D. SHEAR
MARCH 13, 2015
GILBERT, Ariz. — If one relationship embodies the burden President Obama has carried as a wartime commander in chief, it may be the one with Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg, an Army Ranger who was severely wounded in Afghanistan.
As detailed in a New York Times article in 2013, Mr. Obama first met Sergeant Remsburg on Omaha Beach in France in 2009, when the two were taking part in a D-Day commemoration. Less than a year later, they met again by chance at a military hospital outside of Washington, where the soldier was recovering from combat wounds — paralyzed and brain-damaged.
A third time, in 2013, White House aides arranged a private meeting between the two men as Mr. Obama passed through Phoenix, Sergeant Remsburg’s hometown.
On Friday, Mr. Obama again visited Sergeant Remsburg — who was walking and talking, though still struggling with his injuries — at his new home in Gilbert, a suburb of Phoenix, built and specially renovated by veterans’ organizations.
President Obama greeted Sgt. First Class Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded by an explosive device in Afghanistan. Progress Is Slow at V.A. Hospitals in Wake of Crisis
video Obama Visits Phoenix V.A. Hospital. The president joined a backyard picnic with Sergeant Remsburg’s family and friends to celebrate his move into the new house. Among Mr. Obama’s housewarming gifts: some of the beer brewed in the White House.
“The greatest honor of my life is serving as commander in chief of the greatest military the world’s ever known,” Mr. Obama said, adding that Sergeant Remsburg’s “never give up, never give in” attitude was “the kind of thing that keeps me going.”
Mr. Obama was in Phoenix to visit the Veterans Affairs hospital there, which is at the center of a scandal involving the provision of care. But if the morning’s events were difficult for the president, the surprise afternoon stop at Sergeant Remsburg’s put a broad smile on his face.
Over the years, Mr. Obama has cited Sergeant Remsburg as the personification of the difficult choices he has had to make as commander in chief, especially as the country fought two wars and expanded its battle with terrorists.
Before he was wounded, Sergeant Remsburg was the picture of the gung-ho soldier who would put into practice Mr. Obama’s war plans. When he came back, his body broken, Sergeant Remsburg was the example of a wounded soldier who was unwilling to give up.
White House officials said Sergeant Remsburg received the keys to his new house earlier on Friday. The house was purchased by the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund, and it was renovated for Sergeant Remsburg’s use with the help of Homes for Wounded Warriors, a group founded by the Chicago Bears football player Jared Allen.
After taking a brief tour, Mr. Obama called the house “an incredible place” and said he predicted that Sergeant Remsburg was “going to be able to work out, I suspect watch quite a few sports programs and have the occasional libation.”
Mr. Obama praised the members of the community who helped make the house possible, saying that “it speaks to who we are a country and who we are as a people.
“We know that there are a whole bunch of Corys out there and not all of their wounds are as easily seen,” he added. “We’ve got to be just as vigilant, just as generous and just as focused in making sure that every single one of our men and women in uniform, that they’re getting what they’ve earned and what they deserve.”
Locals run for themselves and a cause in triathalon
At 6 a.m on a blustery Saturday morning, 1600 people arrived at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park to participate in the 27th annual Runner’s Edge Tobay Triathlon and Tri-Relay Race. The participants were drawn from a wide age range. They came from all over Long Island and upstate New York, a few were from out of state, and in some cases, had disabilities. But they all came with one goal in mind — to finish.
Jeffrey Hussey, a 28-year-old Garden City resident, has done this race three times and this was his fifth triathlon this summer.
“I got into this after school. I work in finance and I started to put on a little weight. I used to play college lacrosse and I knew as an athlete, this was not what I wanted, so I got into triathlons. I lost 25 pounds, got healthier and I feel great every day.”
Sporting a camouflage outfit, Hussey went on to explain that he also runs for a reason.
“I run for Lead the Way Fund. It is a local Long Island Fund in honor of Jimmy Reagan. He was a Chaminade boy who played lacrosse and gave up a Wall Street law degree opportunity to serve in the military and unfortunately lost his life in Afghanistan at 24. I work with the Lead the Way fund and help raise money and awareness for wounded army Rangers and their families.”
Parents Bob and Deb Hussey were at the finish line to cheer their son on. Deb Hussey was beaming as her son crossed the finish line. “I am extremely proud of my son. I always have been. He does this probably eight times a year and he always chooses a wonderful [organization] to support. For the past four years, he has been running for the veterans, which is so important.”
The course starts out as a half mile swim in Oyster Bay Harbor, then a 9.3 mile bike ride through Oyster Bay, Laurel Hollow, and Cove Neck. The route is very hilly but finishes with a 2.9 mile downhill to the finish. The riders then have one more leg of the race—a 3.2 mile run through Mill Neck and Brookville, up to Planting Fields Arboretum and back down to Roosevelt Park to the finish line.
Matthew Loesch is a 36-year-old Garden City resident who works in finance and has done this 14 times. He explained how triathlon changed his life.
“It promotes discipline. Instead of going to the doctor and spending money on co-pays, I put it towards triathlon entry fees. It’s a lot of fun and forces you to get out and do things.”
Monday 05/26/2014 – Leslie Gaber, Duke Sports Information
When the Duke men’s lacrosse team takes the field each weekend in the spring, the players’ uniforms bear a subtle yet powerful tribute to one of their own.
On the back of the Blue Devils’ helmets, opposite the American flag, lies a small, black rectangular box with white font bearing the text “JR 10.”
The insignias honor the late Sgt. James John Regan, or “Jimmy” as he was known at Duke. The Long Island native was a midfielder for the Blue Devils from 1999-02 and was killed in action in 2007 while serving in the United States Army’s 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment in Iraq.
A native of Manhasset, N.Y., Regan was born in 1980 to James and Mary Regan. He graduated from Chaminade High School in Mineola, N.Y., and went on to play lacrosse and study economics at Duke. The midfielder helped guide the Blue Devils to a four-year record of 43-21 with a pair of ACC titles in 2001 and 2002 and four NCAA Tournament appearances. He was named to the 2002 ACC All-Tournament team after scoring a career-high four goals and adding an assist as Duke defeated then top-ranked Virginia, 14-13, in the championship game.
An Academic All-ACC selection, Regan finished his collegiate career with 22 goals and four assists.
“Just a terrific personality. Always a smile on his face. His teammates just loved to be around him,” former Duke coach Mike Pressler told USA Today in 2007. “He was the kind of kid that every coach in America would be proud to call his own. I can’t imagine a better teammate or a better friend.”
Following his graduation from Duke in the spring of 2002, Regan turned down a job offer from UBS (a financial services company) and a scholarship to Southern Methodist University’s law school to enlist in the Army. Surprising many of his friends and family members, he chose to enter the U.S. Army Ranger School, emailing his former teammates the explanation “This is what I have to do.”
Regan went on to graduate first in his class in infantry basic combat training. After completing the basic airborne course and Ranger Indoctrination program at Fort Benning in Georgia, he became a member of the 3rd Battalion.
Regan served as a machine gunner, gun team leader and then fire team leader during two deployments each to Afghanistan and Iraq, as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. His service in the Army was to end in February of 2008. He and his fiancée, Mary McHugh, had made plans to marry and move to Chicago upon his return to the United States, and he had hopes of becoming a social studies teacher and lacrosse coach.
Regan was killed Feb. 9, 2007 in northern Iraq when an improvised explosive device (IED) targeted his vehicle. He was 26.
Survived by his parents and three sisters, Regan was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal and Purple Heart, in addition to a number of other decorations earned during his years of service. The Roman Catholic Church in Manhasset was packed beyond capacity for his funeral, including 600 flag-waving students from the local high school and many of the businesses nearby displaying his photo in their windows. He was buried with full military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.
The nonprofit Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund was founded in Regan’s honor by his family and friends, and today continues to assist wounded and fallen Army Rangers and their families through health and wellness programs and other services. “Through the Lead The Way Fund, his family and friends strive to honor his spirit, his patriotism and the way he lived his life by combining our efforts to give back to his brothers, the U.S. Army Rangers,” reads part of the mission statement.
Annual events such as “A Run Down Hero Highway” and the “Lead The Way Lacrosse Day for Heroes” support these efforts. In the coming months, LTWF has charity fund-raising slots secured for the San Francisco Marathon (July), the Army Ten-Miler at the Pentagon (October) and the New York City Marathon (November). A pair of “Shootout For Soldiers” 24-hour lacrosse games will be held in Baltimore and Long Island this summer. This year’s LTWF gala benefit was scheduled for May 21 at Chelsea Piers in New York, with CBS This Morning co-anchor Charlie Rose (Duke ‘64) as master of ceremonies.
Regan’s father serves as the CEO of the Lead The Way Fund, with the board and advisory committee loaded with many of his son’s former high school and college friends and teammates. First Lady Michelle Obama last month commended the work done by Lead The Way in a speech she gave for Joining Forces, another military support organization she founded with Jill Biden three years ago.
Although several classes of Blue Devils have come and gone since Regan’s death, his legacy continues to live on within the program. A memorial display and his framed No. 10 jersey hang outside the team’s locker room. His initials and number remain on the players’ helmets for every game.
With the return of defenseman Casey Carroll to Duke last year, the reminders of Regan’s service to his country have been even more constant.
Carroll was a first team All-America selection for the Blue Devils as a senior in 2007. He cites Regan’s story as being influential in his decision to also join the United States Army following graduation.
“It was my senior year when Jimmy Regan died,” Carroll says. “That really moved me when Coach (John Danowski) told us about his story. I found that the best way I could honor him and also blaze my own way through life would be to try to follow in his footsteps. I just set my mind to it. Fifth year of eligibility, that went right out the window for me.”
Coming from a family that had ties to military service as well, Carroll enlisted in the 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment — the same unit Regan had served in.
After spending 2007-12 in the U.S. Army with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Carroll returned to Durham to pursue an MBA at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. With one year of eligibility remaining due to injury, he was also able to get back on the field for the Blue Devils, joining his teammates in honoring Regan every time they don their helmets. And although Carroll tends to shy away from the spotlight, he is eager to share Regan’s story.
“As far as we saw, he was the toughest guy in the world,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy that we all looked up to, whether guys knew of him personally or just knew of his story. I felt that would be a really great way to honor his memory.”
For more information on the Lead The Way Fund, visit leadthewayfund.org.
Army Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, who was recognized at President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, received a hero’s award Thursday at the Bellagio.
The 2014 Homer Deakins award, given by Ogletree Deakins, recognizes Remsburg for “selfless and courageous action” that demonstrates the true spirit of giving. It comes with $10,000 he said he will donate to the Lead The Way Fund, Inc., a nonprofit organization that raises funds for disabled Army Rangers and families of Ranger who have died, are injured or currently serving.
Remsburg, of Phoenix, was nearly killed in a 2009 roadside bomb attack in Afghanistan on his 10th overseas deployment.
“It was an honor to be the face of every wounded warrior,” Remsburg said after receiving a standing ovation at the State of the Union address.
“His comrades found him in a canal face down, underwater, shrapnel in his brain. For months, he lay in a coma. And the next time I met him, in the hospital, he couldn’t speak, he could barely move,” Obama said.
“Over the years, he’s endured dozens of surgeries and procedures, hours of grueling rehab everyday. Even now, Cory’s still blind in one eye,” Obama said. “He still struggles on his left side. But slowly, steadily, with the support of caregivers like his dad Craig and the community around him, Cory has grown stronger.”
Newtown – Newtown resident Jason Brady, a dedicated trail and ultramarathon runner, is set to run the Peak 100 Mile Snowshoe Race in Pittsfield, VT from Feb. 28 to March 1 in an effort to raise funds for the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund, a military charity.
Since 2012, Brady, a former Army Ranger, has run five 100-mile ultramarathons and multiple 50-plus mile ultramarathons, raising over $6,000 for this charity.
“I love to challenge myself, especially in trail and ultramarathon running,” says Brady, a dedicated husband and father of two. “As a former Army Ranger myself, my time in the 1st Ranger Battalion was extremely rewarding, most of all because of the individuals I served with.
“Rangers and their families give so much and I feel strongly about the fantastic charitable work that the Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund does. The organization really stepped up during the government shutdown for Ranger families that did not receive death benefits and other services during that time. They are unique because they assist active and wounded U.S. Army Rangers and their families with recovery, health, wellness and other programs where government funding falls short.”
Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization established to raise funds in support of disabled U.S. Army Rangers and the families of Rangers who have died, have been injured or are currently serving in harm’s way around the world. Army Ranger Lead The Way Fund, Inc. will provide spouses and children of deceased, disabled or active duty Rangers with assistance for health and wellness programs and other services determined to be vital to the family’s well-being, beyond what the government can offer.
To contribute, visit Brady’s fundraising page HERE.
All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law and contributors will receive a letter acknowledging their donation from the Ranger Lead the Way Fund, Inc.
A host of nonprofit groups provided nearly $1.1 million and offers of additional help when the government shutdown cut aid to troops and their relatives, most notably 29 families whose uniformed loved ones died during the closure — some in combat.
The largest commitment was $700,000 divided among 28 of the families by the Fisher House Foundation, a group that builds residences on military hospital grounds for use by the relatives of casualties. The foundation is waiting for contact information on the last family, says spokesperson Jody Fisher.
In addition, a small Long Island-based nonprofit that assists Army Rangers has paid out nearly $100,000, according to Robert Hotarek, president of Lead the Way Fund.
The Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society provided more than $194,000 in financial assistance to 137 current or retired sailors, Marines and their families impacted by the shutdown, says Shelley Marshall, communications officer for the group. The money went for such expenses as travel costs for families visiting wounded or injured service members or traveling to Dover, Del. to meet remains of deceased troops, she said.
In many cases, groups expanded ongoing programs designed to offer military members emergency cash.
Army Emergency Relief provided $87,000 to 42 soldiers and their families during the shutdown for issues ranging from rental assistance to travel costs to moving expenses, says spokesman Guy Shields.
Lead the Way Fund stepped in after two Army Rangers, along with two other soldiers were killed during a night mission Oct. 6 against a compound in southern Afghanistan.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest and other hidden bombs exploded as Rangers closed in during that assault on a compound, says Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, a spokesman for the 75th Ranger Regiment.
The dead were Sgt. Patrick Hawkins, 25, of Carlisle, Pa., and Pfc. Cody Patterson, 24, of Philomath, Ore., both Rangers; and Sgt. Joseph Peters, 24, of Springfield Mo., a military police investigator; and 1st Lt. Jennifer Moreno, 25, of San Diego.
“Those (nonprofit) organizations — we, really, as the Ranger Regiment and, really, as a country owe them a debt of gratitude, because they were able to support four families that had just experienced a loss,” DeSantis says. “(They) banded together to make sure that four Gold Star families got everything they needed through that very difficult time.”
The Fisher House assistance was in the form of $25,000 “gifts” to those four families and the families of 25 other troops who died during the government shutdown from Oct. 1-16. Lead the Way Fund offered assistance for burial and/or travel costs for families of the four soldiers who died in Oct. 6 attack.
The shutdown prevented the Pentagon from providing an immediate $100,000 “death gratuity” to families of service members who died or were killed. Military funds for transporting families to meet the returned remains of their loved ones or to visit them at military hospitals were also canceled.
Congress eventually reinstated the death gratuity and other support payments before the shutdown ended.
The Pentagon this week identified eight other nonprofit groups that offered or provided assistance during the government shutdown. Officials in several of the groups said donors were clamoring to donate after hearing news of the suspended death gratuities.
Groups offering assistance included Coast Guard Mutual Assistance, which provided interest-free loans to furloughed Coast Guard federal civilian employees during the shutdown, said executive director Barry Boisvere. Others, according to the Pentagon, were the Dignity Memorial network of 1,800 funeral, cremation and cemetery service providers; the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, Air Force Aid Society and AmVets.
JPMorgan Chase also offered assistance during the shutdown. The financial institution previously founded a jobs hiring program that with a coalition of companies has hired 92,869 veterans since 2011, says spokesperson Shannon O’Reilly.
LI charity helps families of U.S. soldiers slain, hurt in Afghanistan attack
A Long Island charity has stepped in to cover funeral and other costs for the loved ones of American soldiers killed in an Oct. 6 attack in Afghanistan.
Since the attack, which killed four U.S. soldiers and seriously wounded more than a dozen others, the Manhasset-based Lead The Way Fund has provided some $50,000 in emergency cash to help the families of two of the soldiers make funeral arrangements, said founder James Regan.
Regan, of Manhasset, said the fund provided another $30,000 to help the loved ones of injured soldiers cover the travel, lodging and other costs incurred as they have rushed to military hospitals where the soldiers have been treated.
“There is a dramatic need to get this done,” said Regan, whose son, James, was killed in Iraq in 2007.
Families of troops slain in battle typically receive a $100,000 “death gratuity” from the federal government to help cover funeral and other costs not otherwise borne by the military. But until the Senate passed a bill Thursday lifting the shutdown ban on payments, families of the Oct. 6 bombing had to find a way to cover expenses on their own.
Regan said his charity has been offering assistance to the families of Army Rangers since his son, James, 26, a member of the Army’s 3rd Ranger Battalion, 75th Regiment, died in an Iraqi bomb blast.
So far, his organization has distributed more than $1 million in donated funds, Regan said.
“It’s to honor Jimmy, first of all,” Regan said. “To honor a son who served his country.”
Melissa Albaugh, a family coordinator with the 1st Ranger Battalion, in Savanna, Ga., said because members of military communities are bonded by the common experience of worrying about the safety of loved ones, they often depend on nonrelatives for support when tragedy strikes.
Since the government cannot legally pay for the expenses of nonrelatives, she said, funds from Lead The Way have frequently allowed grieving families to invite comforting friends along in their time of need.
For example, when his son was killed, Regan said the government paid costs incurred by the family, but not for James Regan’s fiancee, Mary McHugh. She had to pay her own way to his burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
“The military can’t cover the cost of a friend, who may be a vital part of your support network at an excruciatingly painful time in your life,” said Albaugh, whose husband was with Regan’s son when he was killed. He survived the blast.
“Lead The Way means you feel supported, and that people who understand what families are going through can be there,” she said.