A painful privilege: Remembering their sacrifices & service

A painful privilege: Remembering their sacrifices & service

A painful privilege: Remembering their sacrifices & service

As many Americans vow to never forget the 9/11 terrorist attacks, others are also paying tribute to the brave men and women who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing in action.


American Family News spoke to Amanda Rutledge, founder and CEO of Tours of Duty, an organization dedicated to honoring and serving America's veterans "by tirelessly searching for Prisoners of War (POWs) and Missing in Action (MIAs), ensuring that their sacrifices and service are never forgotten."

Growing up around "a big military family" and having spent four years in Iraq working for the State Department, Rutledge naturally gravitated toward serving veterans. Her experiences, she shares, helped her "put into perspective the privilege of working with some really incredible men and women [and] what it means to give all for your country."

What's more, she says, the statistic of "22 a day" – a phrase often linked to the veteran suicide epidemic plaguing the country – compels her to make a difference in the veteran community.

"Even within the group [of veterans] that I maintain contact with, there is a suicide every six to eight weeks," she laments.

Rutledge also recognizes America's veterans face real challenges integrating into their post-military careers. Many of their skill sets, she explains, are "not getting utilized appropriately in their civilian lives" – but she contends "finding a new mission of purpose is what a large number of veterans identify as a big influence on their success and integration."

"To help provide something central to their core values and a mission they could believe in, I saw an opportunity to connect the MIA issue with having a sense of purpose," she adds.

Of the more than 82,000 who are considered missing, Rutledge says more than 34,000 are believed to be recoverable.

"Tours of Duty offers our nation's veterans the opportunity to assist in recovering [those determined to be missing] and bringing closure to as many families of our POWs and MIAs as we can," Rutledge shares. "Vietnam was 50 years ago, [and] World War II was 80 years ago – and even after all these years, families are just as emotionally wrought as they were back then."

With the help of several veterans connected to the organization, Tours of Duty will spring into action at the turn of the new year. "We've researched a number of cases and there is enough actionable information for Tours of Duty to conduct their first mission in Vietnam in January," she notes.

Rutledge also reminds every service member supporter that Friday (September 15) is National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

"We are hosting a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery [at noon that day] to raise awareness, on behalf of the families, that more than 82,000 are still missing," she concludes.