WASHINGTON -- AT&T has joined the Defense Department's "America Supports You" team, continuing its more than 85 years of support for the U.S. military through a range of activities and contributions designed to benefit America's servicemen and women, officials announced today.
America Supports you is a nationwide DoD program to recognize citizens' support for the nation's military men and women and to communicate that support to members of the armed forces at home and abroad.
Along with joining America Supports You, the company is donating 8,000 AT&T PrePaid Phone Cards to Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit, all-volunteer organization that assembles and sends "care packages" to U.S. troops overseas. AT&T also is supporting the Pentagon Memorial Fund through sponsoring a Chicago concert featuring noted actor and musician Gary Sinise and his Lt. Dan Band.
"AT&T is proud of our long history of support for the U.S. military," said Bill Baumann, AT&T's director of military markets. "America Supports You, Operation Gratitude and the Pentagon Memorial Fund are exceptional programs that express the spirit and generosity of the American people and all that they're doing to support our troops. The people of AT&T are proud to lend our support to each of these important causes."
Launched in November 2004, America Supports You seeks to engage and encourage individual citizens and corporations to continue their volunteer efforts to help build and sustain the morale of U.S. military personnel, DoD officials said. The program also conveys America's recognition and appreciation to service members for their courage and commitment to the nation.
"We're extremely grateful to AT&T for joining the America Supports You family," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for internal communications and public liaison. "AT&T is a long-time supporter of our nation's armed forces, and their ongoing support of all branches of America's military helps lift the spirits of our heroes on the front lines of freedom."
The founder of Operation Gratitude expressed thanks for AT&T's latest prepaid calling-card contribution. "AT&T PrePaid Phone Cards are one of the items most requested by our troops," said Carolyn Blashek. "AT&T was our first corporate sponsor, and this new contribution of 8,000 AT&T phone cards will allow our military heroes to call home and hear the voices of their family and friends."
To date, Operation Gratitude, also a member of the America Supports You team, has sent almost 70,000 care packages to deployed troops and has received 23,000 free AT&T phone cards.
As part of its ongoing support for the Pentagon Memorial Fund, AT&T is underwriting the June 11 "Rock and Remember" benefit concert at Chicago's Park West Theatre, featuring Sinise and his band. The Lt. Dan Band will rock and remember with more than 700 guests in an effort to raise about $1 million for the Pentagon Memorial. Special guests will include families of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, active-duty service members from the Chicago area, United Service Organizations representatives as well as local, state and federal officials.
"I'm very proud of the Lt. Dan Band and how we've been able to generate awareness of the importance of what the Pentagon Memorial will mean for our nation," said Sinise. "So many innocent lives were lost on that terrible day in September 2001, 184 of them during the attack on the Pentagon. Building a memorial will not only honor those lives, but will also provide a place for all Americans to remember, reflect and renew our spirit of freedom and hope.
"I'm also very grateful to AT&T and applaud their leadership in support of the Pentagon Memorial Fund," he continued, "and look forward to continuing to work with them to ensure the success of our 'Rock and Remember' concert."
AT&T's support for the military has included:
- The contribution of more than $6 million in prepaid phone cards to U.S. troops.
- The company's relationship with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to offer the economical AT&T Military Exchange Global PrePaid Phone Card, allowing U.S. troops to call the United States from phone centers in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom regions for as little as 19 cents per minute. AAFES, in turn, through its "Help our Troops Call Home" program, now allows any individual, military or nonmilitary, to easily purchase its phone cards, which offer the best value for U.S. troops.
- A holiday donation of 10,000 AT&T PrePaid Phone Cards to recovering service members at Walter Reed Army Medical center in Washington and other military hospitals in the United States and abroad.
- Support of the USO and other nonprofit groups such as Operation Gratitude.
- Collaboration with the Navy Exchange Service Command for a 50 percent reduction on per-minute calling rates from almost all Navy ships via AT&T Direct Ocean Service.
- A donation of $100,000 to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation.
- A $25,000 grant for the development of a poster by renowned artist Peter Max to be sold nationally to help raise funds for the Pentagon Memorial.
(From an AT&T news release.)