NIEHS proudly welcomed Ron Whitfield, from North Carolina-based Vets to Vets United, Nov. 8 for the institute’s annual Veterans Day celebration. The event also marked the official kickoff of the NIEHS 2017 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) charity drive.
"Even during peace, our veterans face challenges that most Americans will never know," said NIEHS and National Toxicology Program Director Linda Birnbaum, Ph.D., in her opening remarks. "That makes the work of each of our veterans charities critically important, not only to our veterans themselves, but also for their families, loved ones, and caregivers."
Whitfield was one of four panelists on hand to discuss the contributions of veterans to society. He was joined by NIEHS administrators Bryan Duran (U.S. Navy, retired), Patricia Fountain (U.S. Air Force, retired), and Leslie Lynch (U.S. Army).
Rescued dogs serve vets in need
Vets to Vets United, Inc., which refers to veterinarians and veterans, is a nonprofit organization that unites veterans and dogs for the common goal of improving and saving lives.
The primary means through which Vets to Vets achieves this is by rescuing dogs from local animal shelters and training them as service animals for disabled veterans. In doing this, the group accomplishes several aims.
- Significantly improve a veteran's life by providing companionship and help with a mental or physical disability.
- Save the life of a dog facing euthanization by adopting the animal from a local animal shelter.
"Vets to Vets United was started by a veterinarian in honor of her father who died while serving as an Air Force pilot during the Cuban Missile Crisis," Whitfield said of Terry Morris, D.V.M., Ph.D., the group’s founder. "She loves animals, and she loved her dad, so she decided to put those together and launch an organization devoted to helping other vets in need."
CFC's mission is to support philanthropy through an employee-focused program that provides federal workers the chance to improve life for all, in a cost-efficient and effective manner. In the early years, much of that giving was locally oriented. Now, employees can pledge to any cause they wish via a national database of affiliated charities.
"CFC is a fantastic program because it allows every individual the chance to find that one cause that speaks to them on a real, personal level," said NIEHS Employee Services Program Specialist Jenn Evans, a co-chair of this year’s drive. Evans further illustrated her point by noting that CFC currently offers more than 24,000 charities that federal employees may choose among for their donations.
This year's CFC drive features the theme, Show Some Love. The institute's goal is to raise more than $100,000 in charitable pledges by January 12, 2018.
(Ian Thomas is a public affairs specialist with the Office of Communications and Public Liaison, and a regular contributor to the Environmental Factor.)