MONTPELIER >> On April 20 the State of Vermont House of Representatives honored, Zachariah Fike, and Purple Hearts Reunited with a Concurrent House Resolution H.C.R. 316. Offered by Representatives, Vicki Strong of Albany, Carolyn Branagan of Georgia and Mary Morrissey of Bennington.
The nonprofit foundation Purple Hearts Reunited was created in 2012 and works to return lost or stolen military medals of valor to veterans or their families in order to honor their sacrifice to the nation. The organization is funded by donations and grants, and has returned military awards, including but not limited to Purple Heart medals, to more than 200 veterans, families, and museums to date.
The majority of funding has been through small individual contributions. The demand for Purple Hearts Reunited services has grown exponentially over the last three years. They receive on average, three to five medals per week and have over six hundred medals in research waiting to be reunited. The foundations financial needs have increased as demand for services continue to grow
Military medals are sold, collected, and traded like baseball cards over the Internet. Purple Hearts Reunited spends an average of $50,000 per year to rescue these medals. The average cost of rescuing one medal is between $300-$500. The average cost involved in researching, displaying, and returning one medal of valor to a veteran or military family is $1,500.
Purple Hearts Reunited does more than rescue and return medals. They reunite and heal families. They return what is often the last tangible piece of a veteran to his or her family. This is often the solace that is needed for a military family to commemorate their loved one's service. Their ceremonies include an educational/informative component including the history of the military medals, details of each veteran's service and sacrifice, and explanations of the resources provided by other veterans service organizations.
Purple Hearts Reunited believes all medals should go home to their rightful owners, or be preserved in a special place of honor. Each one of these medals has a story behind it. They are looking to build relationships with Vermonters and local businesses to ensure these medals return home.