U.S. Army Specialist Chang Lee in Afghanistan.
U.S. Army Specialist Chang Lee of East St. Paul was home recently to recuperate after being wounded in Afghanistan, and while here he received the 13,000th grant from the Minnesotans’ Military Appreciation Fund.
Lee, who has returned to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C. for treatment, was awarded a $2,000 grant from MMAF, a non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides cash grants to Minnesota service members and families of fallen servicemen and women who served in combat since 9/11
Lee, 22, of East St. Paul, served in the United States Army with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the First Battalion 32nd Infantry Regiment Dog Company, as part of the Tenth Mountain Division. He originally enlisted for military service in 2009 at age 19.
After his deployment to Afghanistan in March 2011, Lee served as a rifle squad’s point man and operator of the mine detector system. He was wounded while on patrol when his unit was ambushed on June 20, 2011.
Chang was shot in the left triceps, where the bullet severed an artery, transected his median nerve and severely wounded his bicep. He has endured multiple surgeries and hopes to regain function of his left hand.
After completing the medical boards process Lee will likely be medically discharged from military service. The 2007 Henry Sibley High School graduate said he hopes to attend the University of Minnesota.
MMAF continues to donate more than 90 percent of funds raised directly to Minnesota troops. In order to keep overhead costs low, MMAF uses donated office space, service partners donate percentages of their time, and corporate sponsors underwrite costs for events, such as MMAF’s annual fundraising dinner.
Past keynote speakers include Senator John McCain, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, New York Times best-selling author and Minnesotan, Vince Flynn, television journalist and best-selling author, Tom Brokaw and most recently Medal of Honor recipient Colonel Jack Jacobs. All speakers have waived their talent fees.
Many local organizations produce an annual fundraising event with proceeds benefiting MMAF. The Patriot Ride in Ham Lake, the Freedom Run in Minnesota Lake, and the LPS/NML Charity Golf Tournament in Hudson, Wis., are just a few of the events that take place on an annual basis to raise funds for MMAF.
Since it launched in Aug. 2005, MMAF has raised more than $13 million, making it the largest organization of its kind in the nation. To date, it has distributed 13,000 grants totaling more than $8 million.
“Many Minnesota nonprofit organizations work hard to raise money for MMAF, knowing that 90 percent of money donated will go directly to our Minnesota service members, like Specialist Chang, who valiantly served our country,” said Roger Sit, MMAF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sit Investment Associates.
With the support of Minnesota citizens, nonprofit organizations and corporations more than $13 million has been raised for scholarships through MMAF-sponsored events.
MMAF provides cash grants in the amount of $5,000 to families of fallen soldiers; $2,000 to $10,000 to those wounded in combat, depending on severity of injury and $500 to those that served honorably in a combat zone.
MMAF is a statewide fundraising initiative by the citizens of Minnesota for Minnesota military personnel and their families. MMAF is a non-partisan, volunteer-run, non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation formed to raise money to provide cash grants as a “thank you” to all Minnesota military personnel who have served in a combat zone since September 2001. With a goal of more than 90 percent of collected funds going directly to eligible Minnesota armed forces, MMAF seeks to show troops how much Minnesotans appreciate and respect their service to our country.