WASHINGTON - Artist Lee Greenwood, best known for his "God Bless the USA" anthem, is seeking to relieve some of the financial burden from families of soldiers who fell during the war in Iraq by raising millions of dollars for the cause.
Embarking on an awareness raising tour, Greenwood visited Washington, D.C., Monday to promote the sale of coins from among seventy thousand pounds of uncirculated Iraqi coins that were confiscated by soldiers in 2003. As a spokesman for Products for Good LLC, Greenwood says that the company will donate the first 25 percent, or $20 million, it earns to the families.
During an appearance to promote fundraising efforts at the headquarters of the Family Research Council, Greenwood said that he expresses his Christian faith by helping others.
"I want to help people. I want to help my brothers and sisters. There's no greater cause and I feel that in the United States right now, when a nation declares war on another nation, we have to take care of those who step into the line of danger. When they lose their husband or wife, son or daughter, it's all of our responsibilities to do that."
The uncirculated Iraqi coins were discovered by British troops in Basra, Iraq who were assigned to protect banks and museums from looters in 2003. The coins had been decommissioned by former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, had no value in the country, and had been laying in bank bags for 10 years, according to the Products for Good website.
The coins were eventually approved for consignment to a metals company in London that sold them and donated the proceeds to a Basra orphanage and the British Commonwealth War Graves memorial in the city.
For Greenwood, it is important that through the project, the coins are being sold to raise money for families directly involved in losing loved ones.
He said that through his performances, he has had the opportunity to meet mothers who have lost sons along with their wives and sees their financial needs for house and car payments as well as college costs for the children. Many times, the soldier who perished may have been the only source of support for their families.
"When we address that issue, it's always very emotional. I have great empathy," said Greenwood.
"Some are doing well, some are not doing so well," he added, but said he tries to address them one at a time.
Distribution of funds is being handled through an independent accounting firm that will set apart the first 25 percent of the total gross income generated from sales.
Each item contains either one, two or four coins displayed in a "shadowbox" display case and sells for $39.99, $79,99, and $119.99, respectively.
For more information on the coins and how to contribute, visit www.productsforgood.com