Supervisor plans $300 million drive for wounded troops
Supervisor Lee Sherbeyn (Cedar Run District) hopes to kick off a nationwide fund drive for wounded troops at his Bealeton ranch Saturday.
Sherbeyn plans to open his Pay-It-Forward Ranch, on 13199 Elk Run Road in Bealeton, for an outdoor party from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
An admission of $10 covers food and activities, and will go toward Operation First Response, Sherbeyn said.
Founded eight years ago, Operation First Response provides financial aid to wounded service members, said founder Peggy Baker. A former Fauquier resident and neighbor of Sherbeyn's, Baker will be at the party Saturday.
"By bringing the community into this, they can see there's still a need to come together and provide services for the troops as they return," Baker said.
When someone is wounded and taken out of active duty, their paychecks stop, Baker said. It can take up to six months for the Department of Veterans Affairs to resume pay. In the meantime, the wounded lose their savings, homes and livelihoods, Baker said.
"I'm concerned that the skyrocket in suicides may have a lot to do with the financial devastation these families end up in," Baker said.
Operation First Response tries to help wounded service members in that gap of time where the paychecks stop coming. Baker's organization pays for clothes and personal care items, travel costs for visiting family members and other expenses.
Sherbeyn hopes his weekend party will add some financial muscle to Baker's work. Guests should bring their own drinks and chairs, Sherbeyn said, but they can bid on several prizes while they're at the party. Guests can raffle for a Marlin rifle with a scope, donated by Clark Brothers Gun Shop, and can auction for sports memorabilia and several items donated by Fauquier merchants.
Guests can also get a chance to receive pink underwear, autographed by Maricopa County, Ariz., Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio forces inmates in his county to wear pink underwear.
The party is only the beginning of Sherbeyn's donation drive. He aims to raise $67,000, about a dollar for every resident of Fauquier County.
"When we get about two thirds of the way there, we're going to challenge Culpeper, Rappahannock and Orange," Sherbeyn said. "Now, they can't turn out a challenge. They can't be outdone, because we'll make them look foolish. We'll make sure it gets on the news that they won't do it."
If those counties come on board and raise a dollar for each of their residents, Sherbeyn will challenge other regions of Virginia to do the same. Then, he said, he'll ask the governor to challenge other states, snowballing the fund drive until it reaches $300 million, or roughly a dollar for every American citizen.
"There's nobody yet who's been able to find a way to tell me this won't work, because it's only one dollar," Sherbeyn said. "If I asked you for a dollar to support the troops, is there anyone who wouldn't give me a dollar?"