U.S. Rep. John Larson is betting that if you give people the opportunity to help veterans and the post office, they’ll take it. He plans to resurrect a World War II-era tradition of selling stamps with no postal value as an expression of patriotism.
Larson proposed a bill that would create a 21 cent “Victory for Veterans” stamp, which would be sold in post offices. Seven cents of the proceeds from each stamp will help fund training and education programs for vets. Another 7 cents will help support the U.S. Postal Service and the remaining 7 cents will help pay down the national debt.
“We feel this is a patriotic way for our citizens to become involved in important causes this nation stands for. This country has always had a tremendous threshold to reach out and help people. Here’s an opportunity to help our own,” he explained at a Friday press conference.
Larson said he got the idea from looking at letters his parents exchanged while his father was deployed in World War II. He noticed a 3 cent stamp on some of the letters, which had no postal value but helped pay for the war effort.
Unlike World War II when everyone was asked to do their part for the war effort, he said the only people who have been asked to sacrifice during recent wars have been the men and women in the military.
Larson said there was no way to guess how many people would spring for a decorative stamp in tough economic times, but he’s hoping a lot.
“Who can put a projection on the patriotism of the country, how much they’ll be involved?” he said. “But let me say this, I think just talking about this with people, how instantly people are drawn because they want to do something.”
The bill has bipartisan support in the House of Representatives with more than 100 lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agreeing to support it, Larson said. U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said he believes it also will be supported in the Senate.
“Never have so few borne the burden of war for so long and at such great cost compared to the rest of the American people and as school children and families did in World War II. Let’s have an opportunity to say thank you and support them,” Blumenthal said.
Department of Veteran Affairs Commissioner Linda S. Schwartz said she was glad to see the old idea being revived. She compared the concept to the war bonds sold during World War II.
“It was a way for everyone to have stock in it, to do something to help and that’s what’s missing in our society today,” she said. “Everybody wants to know what they can do to help. This is a simple but elegant way to honor our veterans.”