In a letter [full text at the end of this article] to Representative Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Red Cross Gail J. McGovern has indicated her organization's support for the award of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Red Cross workers, informally known as the Donut Dollies.
“On behalf of the American Red Cross, I am delighted to share our organization’s strong endorsement for H.R. 3592, your legislation to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the members of the Red Cross Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas (SRAO) program – also known as the ‘Donut Dollies’ – who served honorably during the Vietnam conflict.”
Congress member Sherrill, herself a veteran military pilot, proposed the legislation earlier this year. The Red Cross president went on to say :
“Between 1965 and 1972, 627 brave young women each volunteered a year of their lives to provide support for members of the U.S. military engaged in fighting in Vietnam – over eight thousand miles from home. Their mission was to serve as a “touch of home” and boost morale among service members by providing mobile recreation programs to units in remote locations, and to staff recreation centers in larger, more secure base camps.”
As alluded to in McGovern's letter and thinking back on my own personal experience of duty in Vietnam, these young women were in much the same situation as I had been, in terms of being exposed to hostile fire. They flew in helicopters and drove on dangerous roads, just as I did. But they had no protection other than the troops around them. No weapons. Perhaps a flak jacket. Perhaps a helmet. Yet I was getting hostile fire pay. I was my own protection with my rifle and pistol. I got medals. I got eligibility for VA health care. And burial benefits. The Dollies only got a thank you, even though they, too, had been exposed to Agent Orange. They, too, now contend with PTSD as a result of associating with young soldiers, many of whom were wounded or died in their presence. They were no less affected than most soldiers.
Yet they got no awards. No VA health care. No disability payments for presumptive Agent Orange-induced deadly diseases. Now the remaining Dollies are old, like me. Their numbers, like those of the military veterans, are dwindling. A Congressional Gold Medal is the least Congress can do.
As I wrote in my last article on the Donut Dollies, you can help move this legislation along by contacting your representative in Congress. Cite the bill number and name: Donut Dollies Congressional Gold Medal Act (HR 3592). Add a few sentences to indicate the reason you support the Congressional Gold Medal for the Dollies. This web page will help you navigate to the office of your congressional representative: Find Your Representative