NATIONAL AWARD: Military Assistance Program of the VFW of the United States
Ask Army Command Sgt. Maj. Tim Green where he's posted and he'll tell you "a country that looks like a page ripped from the Old Testament."
But even in such uncompromising surroundings -- Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan -- Green discovered that "kids are still kids." That's why he decided to teach the children hanging around the base some Boy Scout values: the importance of being prepared, trustworthy and loyal. He began with 20 kids, including a pair of 12-year-old girls.
He soon realized that, to have lasting impact, he needed plenty of help.
That's when Green, a life member of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 812 in El Paso, contacted VFW headquarters in Kansas City, Mo. The VFW and its Ladies Auxiliary are decade-long partners in Make A Difference Day, and this year, members from 2,600 posts worldwide volunteered in diverse projects.
The 150 HQ employees adopted Green's cause for Make A Difference Day, collecting 37 boxes of children's clothes, shoes, soap, book bags and 1,000 stuffed animals. The collection was mailed to Green in Afghanistan.
In an e-mail from Bagram, Green says that the kids there are like those anywhere in the world: "They play, they tease, they fight, they love. They love being doted on and getting new clothes, and book bags make them feel special."
Green's posting in Afghanistan began in October 2003, but he isn't due to be rotated back home until this fall; then he'll retire. He found time for volunteering even though he has a big job in Bagram. Green's role is like a city manager's: He oversees all aspects of operations for the 10,000-person base, right down to making sure the streets are paved and the sidewalks are built.
"Tim's project was very special, no doubt about that," says Michael Gormalley, the VFW's assistant adjutant general, "but I believe it's a reflection of what our members do every day to support our troops and their efforts overseas."
The $10,000 Make A Difference Day Award from Paul Newman will benefit the Military Assistance Program of the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States.