Well before the Women in Military Service for America Memorial was built, the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution and its chapters across the country and overseas were supporting the Memorial. You helped us fundraise and find and register eligible women. You participated in our events and invited us to participate in yours. You’ve lauded Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, our president emeritus, with your most prestigious awards and your senior leaders have played prominent roles in our most important events. From individual chapters to the National Headquarters, the Women’s Memorial has been blessed by your financial generosity as well. Nearly 400 separate DAR chapters, State organizations and others have donated to the Memorial. Your National Headquarters is among our “Distinguished Friends” level donors, giving nearly $49,000 since 1988 to help fund exhibits, purchase critical equipment and tell the story of women’s service to the nation. The DAR has been one of the Memorial’s greatest champions. We can’t thank you enough.
So it wasn’t a surprise when word of our financial challenges hit the media that your President General Ann Dillon was one of the first to reach out. For that I am especially grateful. And, many thanks to all of you—both individuals and chapters— who’ve responded by investing in us to secure the future of this amazing, one-of-a-kind Memorial.
Be assured that we’ve endeavored to be good stewards of your monetary contributions. We’ve taken tough actions over the past year to cut costs—reducing the Foundation staff by half, significantly cutting administrative office space and curtailing programs. We’re also aggressively reaching out to corporations, organizations, federal funding sources and philanthropic entities for help. One such initiative is the Foundation’s “Next 20 Years” project, which reaches out to corporations and organizations to help position the Memorial for the future. Still another is a fundrazr.com campaign launched by AcademyWomen that has already raised more than $107,000. It will run until Oct. 18, the Memorial’s 20th anniversary. We are also establishing the Ambassador Program, which will rejuvenate and enrich the now dormant Field Representative program and extend the reach of the Memorial’s mission across America. In addition, supporters are increasingly choosing the Memorial for online giving programs like IGive.com and AmazonSmile (smile.amazon.com).
These measures have helped us substantially decrease the debt but it does not mean our financial struggles are over. Our biggest concern now is a catastrophic equipment failure at the Memorial. With no money in reserve to replace these aging 20-year-old-systems, it would be a major challenge for us. We are hopeful, however, that the 2017 Defense Appropriations Act, which includes funds for the Memorial, will soon be passed and funds released to help address some of these challenges.
Lastly, I want you to know that we are absolutely committed to the future of the Women’s Memorial and to keeping its doors open. Thank you, DAR, for standing with us these many years and for helping us tell the story of women’s service to the nation and the world. We look forward to having the DAR leadership and members with us for the 20th anniversary festivities in October. Until then, please continue to help women take their rightful place in history by registering their service with the Memorial (www.womensmemorial.org, click on Register).