Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Two outfits worth your attention

My e-mail lately brings notice of two organizations doing good things: First is the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which rolls out this morning. This one involves a bunch of bigwigs, like the defense secretary, the Army secretary and the VA secretary, but what caught my attention was the participation of the Rev. Robert ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

My e-mail lately brings notice of two organizations doing good things:

First is the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which rolls out this morning. This one involves a bunch of bigwigs, like the defense secretary, the Army secretary and the VA secretary, but what caught my attention was the participation of the Rev. Robert Certain, who before becoming a minister was a PoW in Hanoi.

By the way, here is the recent Defense Health Board report on the issue. 

My e-mail lately brings notice of two organizations doing good things:

First is the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, which rolls out this morning. This one involves a bunch of bigwigs, like the defense secretary, the Army secretary and the VA secretary, but what caught my attention was the participation of the Rev. Robert Certain, who before becoming a minister was a PoW in Hanoi.

By the way, here is the recent Defense Health Board report on the issue. 

Second is Spirit of America. A friend of a friend writes that it is

a 501c3 nonprofit that helps our troops help the people in Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. Since 2003 we’ve responded to needs identified by U.S. Soldiers and Marines for things that will help the local people — sewing machines, school supplies, solar water pumps, solar radios, sandals, blankets, mosquito nets, playground equipment, saffron bulbs… any kind of humanitarian or economic development assistance that is needed. This support improves relations and increases trust and cooperation. it is especially helpful in counterinsurgency operations now in Afghanistan. Ultimately, SoA support helps our troops be safer and more successful in their mission.

Spirit of America’s support is fast, flexible and decentralized. We fill gaps in military and US government assistance programs. In Afghanistan, it can be difficult to get aid to the remote villages — far from Kabul — where much of the war is being fought and where little things can make a big difference. That’s where SoA is most active. You can think of this as grass roots public diplomacy. We help the troops be effective unofficial ambassadors… ambassadors of the goodwill of the American people. Most NGOs keep their distance from the military. Spirit of America takes a different approach that offers a new model for military-NGO collaboration.

Everything we do is supported by private-sector donations. We provide Americans with a meaningful way to help and to connect with the service of our troops. People can choose where their money goes and 100% goes to provide what those on the front lines say is needed.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.