Photo: President George Bush talks with Air Force Maj. Dan Rooney of the Oklahoma Air National Guard after arriving at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Sept. 12, 2008. Bush presented Rooney with the President's Volunteer Service Award for his contributions to the lives of military families through his Folds of Honor Foundation. Rooney left for his third tour in Iraq shortly after receiving the award. Photo courtesy of the Folds of Honor Foundation
Air Force Maj. Dan Rooney received the President's Volunteer Service Award from President Bush when the president arrived at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., Sept. 12. Since March 2002, Bush has been personally thanking volunteers for their service during his travels.
The award presented to Rooney is a reflection on his work starting and running the Folds of Honor Foundation, which provides educational assistance for fallen or disabled servicemembers' spouses or dependents.
"The Folds of Honor Foundation is honored and fortunate to be led by such an outstanding American patriot [as] Major Dan Rooney," said Josh Miller, the organization's vice president for program coordination and compliance.
Rooney's receipt of the award is a tribute to his outstanding efforts and is a sign that Folds of Honor has made at least a minor impact on the military community, Miller said. "More importantly though, Dan's receipt of the award is an encouragement to continue on our mission to ensure every last eligible spouse and dependent receives a scholarship," he added.
As of last month, Folds of Honor had presented some 200 scholarships totaling $1.1 million. The organization has even higher hopes this year, as the organization's annual fundraiser, Patriot Golf Day, held at about 3,800 PGA golf courses on Labor Day, is estimated to have generated more than $3 million toward more scholarships.
With about 1,250 golf courses tallied so far, Patriot Golf Day has raised about $830,000, Miller said.
The President's Volunteer Service Award developed out of Bush's call during his 2002 State of the Union address for Americans to make a difference by volunteering in their communities. Three months later, the President's Council on Service and Civic Participation created the award.
The awards are available to individuals 14 and under who have completed 50 or more hours of service. Those 15 and older must have completed 100 or more hours, and families or groups can be recognized for pitching in for 200 or more hours or volunteering in the community.
Miller said he's not sure how many hours Rooney has put in since starting the Fold of Honor Foundation.
"I couldn't even begin to estimate, but essentially in 2007, just getting the foundation up and running was pretty much a second full-time job for Dan," Miller said. "I can say with confidence that he far exceeded the 100-hour volunteer requirement."
The Folds of Honor Foundation is a supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.