Killed in Action Families from All Conflicts Must Work Together for Their Mutual Support

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A small nonprofit benefiting families of the fallen talks about honoring the warrior and not the war and values participants. More should be done.

Participants keep the USA KIA/DOW Family Foundation, or USAKIA, going. However, the nonprofit says much more has to be done. Founded in the late 90s and incorporated in 2003, the tax-deductible and tax-exempt organization wants to help families of killed in action (KIA) and died of wounds (DOW), and the nonprofit values supporters.

Current programs include an annual event at Moss Landing in September. However, USAKIA would like to see its permanent KIA memorial there and in other places. Participants in a very small survey the nonprofit made also thought memorials would most help families of the fallen. The city of San Jose has claimed funds would be available at the end of 2006 for projects.

The not-for-profit corporation also has a Web site and sells items honoring killed in action at its eBay store, Valkyrie and Valhalla. It also has an annual charity auction during the week before Memorial Day Weekend. Other planned projects include scholarships and direct financial assistance. USAKIA accepts car donations, and its Web site also accepts contributions by major credit cards and PayPal, also through Network for Good, the Amazon Honor System, and the Giving Zone.

KIA families and those willing to help them founded the USA KIA/DOW Family Foundation, which is also nonpartisan and nonpolitical. Relatives of individuals who made the ultimate sacrifice from various conflicts have participated in directing the nonprofit, including Gold Star Clans from World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.

Many family members who participate with the organization have represented kin of U.S. casualties from post-9/11 actions. The nonprofit’s September Moss Landing event had a speaker whose son died of his wounds last October in Iraq, as well as speakers whose close relatives died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. Kin from various conflicts have also submitted testimonials for the nonprofit at its Web sites and online store.

Founding relatives had business experience and education, family members who were killed in action, and included military veterans. The Pentagon also wished the group the best in its endeavors back in 1999. In 2005 the White House even sent them a thank-you note for what they do. “Many groups out there claim to benefit KIA families,” says USAKIA’s founder and president, Vincent Bartning, “but those willing to help should make sure their dollars go to the right place. These relatives have made a priceless sacrifice for God and country.”

Vincent’s grandfather, John Wallace Rich, and cousin, Louis Bartning, paid the ultimate price in World War II and Korea respectively. So Vincent saw a need for a group that spanned conflicts. He also talks about honoring the warrior and not the war. "Pride in individual conflicts may lead away from social justice for Gold Star families," says the 40-year-old CEO.

The USA KIA/DOW Family Foundation (USAKIA), based in San Jose, California, is an IRS-approved, tax-deductible and tax-exempt nonprofit. KIA families incorporated the 501(c)(3) organization in the fall of 2003 to benefit families of those killed in action and died of wounds while in the U.S. armed forces. Current services include memorials and membership, and it also sells products honoring U.S. KIA. America Remembers KIA allows USAKIA the use of its trademarked KIA flag and symbol. See the organization's Web site at http://www.usakia.org for further information.

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