And so Green, his wife, and two other couples got together to pledge $1.1 million to veterans’ causes. They hope, ultimately, to raise $30 million and convince some moneyed families like themselves to pledge 1 percent of their net worth to the cause.
The urge to give was driven in no small part to the feelings that Green knew he would have if his children were at war. “I get anxious very easily – if my children were overseas fighting I would have had three or six years of sleepless nights,” he says. “I know what it would have done to me. I was spared that kind of anxiety and pain and discomfort, and I am desperately appreciative of those people who did not have the luxury that my family did.”
Through the work of his wife, Dr. Elizabeth Cobbs, head of geriatrics at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Washington, Green had seen the immense need within the veterans community – a need that with research he realized that tax dollars would not cover. “I pay taxes like everybody else – but that feels like a relatively small contribution.”
Green and Dr. Cobbs were repeatedly struck by veterans and their families “who bear an unbelievable burden when they return from war – physically, mentally, and socioeconomically.”
While the Department of Veterans Affairs “does fantastic work, the gaps in the ability to take care of people is enormous and increasing –and that gap is going to get bigger and bigger, no matter how great the VA is," Green says. "The fact is that the tax revenue will not be enough to support the need among today’s veterans generated by the wars of the past decade.”