Okay, my friends, I need some advice. I'm trying to decide if Marc and I should support a new charity (he generally lets me handle these things). We support a number of good charities, including some that help members of the military, because we believe in helping the people who are defending our country. It doesn't matter if we agree with the particular actions the military is ordered to take (the Iraq war comes immediately to mind)--we still support the troops who are going in harm's way for the country.
So here's why I want your opinion. This weekend, watching a TV show, I learned about something called Operation Mend. This is a program that provides surgery to try to repair some of the horrific damage done to our troops by things like roadside bombs. Horribly disfigured military personnel have the opportunity to get plastic surgery to make their lives more liveable. This is complex stuff, usually taking many surgeries to get to a decent outcome. For people so terribly injured, the damage will never be completely gone, but it's definitely made better.
So you may now be wondering why there's a question about giving to this program. Why the hesitation? Well, here's the thing: I've read about the program online, and I'm not sure exactly what difference my money will make.
I haven't seen anything that says the number of surgeries is dependent upon the amount donated, or that UCLA (where this program is based) is losing lots of money on the program, or that the surgeon is taking no pay (or less than his usual pay) for this work. Not that he doesn't deserve to earn a living, but I can think of more needy people to support.
I also feel like this is something the government should pay for--how can they not, since these are people who were wounded in service to their country? Even so, we've never let that stop us before--we regularly give to the USO and also have given to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, and the government should have those covered but don't.
Really, the question is whether we're helping the wounded with this one or just sending money to people who already are well paid. There is government involvement (the program info says it's "a unique partnership between Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, and the V.A.-Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System"). Even so, the program asks for donations, saying the donations help cover related costs, like travel, counseling, etc.
I'm just not sure if I buy it. What do you think? I'm especially interested in feedback from military families, like a certain blogger I know, but I value feedback from all of you. So what do you think?