We are an organization comprised of U.S. military veterans, the families of veterans and those who believe in and are supportive of our agenda. The Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard are represented in our members. While our organization came into existence in the shadow of the Vietnam War, our membership has included those who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and all of the conflicts that have occurred around the world and drawn upon the U.S. military.
The major function of Rolling Thunder, Inc. is to publicize the POW/MIA issue: To educate the public that many American Prisoners of War were left behind after all previous wars, and to help correct the past and to protect future veterans from being left behind should they become Prisoners of War/Missing Action. We are also committed to helping American veterans from all wars.
Like the POW/MIA Chair of Honor, the flying of the POW/MIA Flag also represents a reminder and says to the families that our government has not forgotten you or your loved ones.
One of most recent accomplishments of Rolling Thunder, Inc. National, along with all Rolling Thunder, Inc. members in 92 chapters throughout the country, was the April 2016 legislation that passed unanimously in the House and Senate to place a Commemorative Prisoners of War Missing in Action (POW/MIA) Chair in the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
Joe D’Entremont, while president of Rolling Thunder, Massachusetts Chapter 1, was a key catalyst for the issue. In 2012, he asked Rolling Thunder, Inc. Legislative Director Gus Dante, “What do you think about Rolling Thunder Inc. placing a POW/MIA Chair in the U.S. Capitol?” “Most definitely,” was the quick reply.
On March 26, 2015, Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Democrat, introduced strongly bipartisan bills (H.R. 1670 and S. 885), both called the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015.
In August 2015, Joe traveled from Boston to Washington, D.C., to hand-deliver letters to all the members of the House Administration Committee and the Senate Administration and Rules Committee, urging them to move these bills out of their committees. Joe returned to Boston a few days later and suffered a massive stroke at the age of 55.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. leaders, including Gus Dante, made the commitment to speak and advocate for Joe after his stroke. Joe is a nonveteran who dedicated his life to helping our military veterans and those who are POW/MIAs still unaccounted for, and Rolling Thunder, Inc. National refused to let this dream die.
In November 2015, during Rolling Thunder, Inc.’s annual conference, National members met with staff in the office of Michigan Rep. Candice Miller, who was then chair of the House Administration Committee. We urged her office to move H.R. 1670 out of committee and to the House floor for a vote. In December 2015, Chairwoman Miller held a hearing on H.R. 1670 and the committee voted yes to bring it to the House floor for a vote.
On March 21, 2016, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1670, and a few days later, on April 14, the Senate passed the same bill unanimously with the help of Sen. Warren, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican.
It was then presented to President Barack Obama who on April 29, 2016 signed the National POW/MIA Remembrance Act of 2015 into law, thus directing the Architect of The Capitol (AOC) to place a POW/MIA Chair in the U.S. Capitol.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. National then worked with the AOC for 18 months to procure all the materials pertaining to the chair and negotiating the cost for all the materials, which Rolling Thunder, Inc. National paid for.
Finally, on November 8, 2017, the POW/MIA Chair was officially dedicated in the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol. Rep. Lynch and Sen. Warren were among the members of Congress and other officials present at the unveiling.
“I applaud Joe D’Entremont and Gus Dante, both Rolling Thunder Inc. National members, for their leadership, both in Massachusetts, New Jersey and across our country, in advocating for increased government accountability for POW/MIA and their families. It was the strong advocacy of Rolling Thunder that brought this bill to the finish line and on to the President’s desk,” said Rep. Lynch.
Our nation’s POW/MIAs should never be forgotten. Every American visiting the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol who sees this POW/MIA Chair of Honor should know that it serves as a reminder of the incredible sacrifice made by those brave 83,000 Americans whose fate is still unknown and the courage of the families that are left behind.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. members advocate for improvements in the health cared provided to veterans by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
According to a survey by the VA, more than 8,000 U.S. military veterans are committing suicide annually. That means that an average of 22 veterans are taking their own lives each and every day.
A No. 1 priority for Rolling Thunder, Inc. is to promote suicide awareness by advocating for and wearing the red patch that reads, “TOO 22 MANY.” This patch is not just a patch to put on a vest but a message to bring awareness to our government and the public that 22 suicides a day among military personnel is too many.
We cannot allow our nation’s veterans to die by their own hands because they can’t get the help they need to cope with the pressures of returning to civilian life. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and a long list of mental-health issues can take anyone down the wrong path.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. National and our 92-plus Rolling Thunder, Inc. chapters throughout the U.S. are dedicated to finding a way to helping our nation’s heroes by funding programs such as:
• Project Horses for Forces, Inc., Long Valley, New Jersey.
• Spring Reins of Life, Three Bridges, New Jersey.
• New Freedom Farm, Buchanan, Virginia.
They all are assisting veterans who are at risk with suicidal tendencies. Rolling Thunder, Inc. New Jersey Chapter 2 in Forked River, New Jersey, is instrumental in creating the red “22” patch.
Also, as we are all aware, the list of presumptive diseases and conditions associated with herbicide Agent Orange and other toxins is steadily increasing. The VA has recognized certain cancers and other health issues/problems that are associated with exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during military service. Such presumptive diseases — and a list of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships that were exposed to Agent Orange and other toxins while in operation — may be accessed from the VA website.
Rolling Thunder, Inc. strongly urges the new administration to keep our nation’s commitment to our veterans.
• Rolling Thunder, Inc. is a national 501(c)(4) nonprofit incorporated in 1995 for the sole purpose to advocate for veterans and veterans’ rights. Its 8,000-plus members in over 90 chapters volunteer in VA facilities, raise money to support veterans, and lobby state and federal government agencies on behalf of veterans and their families. Charitable donations may be made to Rolling Thunder Charities Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization created to serve veterans and their families.
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