If you are hoping for an easy way out of your problems, don’t call Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice. She’s got a 32-year talk radio history of telling listeners to “go do the right thing” — no matter how difficult that thing is. That might be why she is a great friend of the military.
With her national platform and popularity, Dr. Laura has raised over $530,000 for Operation Family Fund, a non-profit organization providing financial support for the families of those soldiers injured or killed in the War on Terror.
In a phone interview, Dr. Laura told me she chose OFF because they had “zero overhead.” After discovering it a little over three years ago, she was impressed by the efforts of the one-man (founder Mike Cash) organization and decided to adopt it for her own.
“I’m happy to say I was able to put them on the map,” she said, adding they have grown significantly.
Over the phone, Mike Cash told me he started OFF in 2003 after wanting to donate $100 to a military family and finding no charity through which he could. A former Department of Defense employee, Cash was encouraged to start up his own charity so he “pulled out a few more thousand dollars and started and built a web page.”
OFF is run by volunteers alone — each of them the parent of a military member — and according to Cash, all “tremendously passionate” about their work.
With a variety of pro-military organizations to choose from, Dr. Laura found OFF’s humble approach to fundraising a refreshing contrast to many organizations that are run more like businesses with high overhead costs. Since then, Cash said Dr. Laura has helped to raise about 60% of total donations through her jewelry sales and fundraisers.
“She’s wonderful…and has tremendous passion for our military and for members severely wounded and their families,” said Cash. “[She] desperately wants to help them.”
At her 60th birthday bash in Disneyland earlier this year, Cash announced that Dr. Laura would receive the Office of the Secretary of Defense Exceptional Public Service Award for her work with his organization — which she officially received in Washington DC three weeks ago.
The award carries extra significance for Dr. Laura because her son, Deryk, is a deployed American soldier. “A little pat on the head is always nice but…to get an award from my government for service to my country — it made me feel even closer to my boy and his buddies,” she said.
Dr. Laura speaks frequently with callers struggling with family deployments. Personal experience makes her advice to callers more compelling. She encourages those left at home to be strong and stay busy while their spouse, child or parent defends freedom abroad.
“I put it out of my head and…keep busy…I have to,” Dr. Laura said of managing her son’s absence. “I have to help too many people with so much going on in their personal and family lives and I just put it out of my head, basically.”
Staying informed about what’s going on overseas is another matter. Dr. Laura is skeptical of the media, saying the media is “mostly dumping for the Democrats.”
“I’m not one of those people that sits in an armchair and acts like they know what is going on over there,” she said, adding that her variety of daily reads includes everything from the New York Times to the Wall Street Journal. “I read a big cross section because that’s the only way I can get my finger on the pulse of what’s going on.”
Typically known as the conservative outlet, even Fox News stirs her skepticism.
“News outlets are supposed to report facts…so why should you follow it up with ‘you decide’?” she asked of the Fox News motto. “It’s either a fact or it’s not a fact. If it’s a fact, there’s nothing to decide. I have to absorb that fact.”
A politically-run war is part of the problem, Dr Laura said, maintaining that political correctness too often trumps strategy so that the military cannot do what it is supposed to do effectively.
Interjecting political correctness means you “don’t want to hurt people’s feelings, upset anybody, [have] collateral damage, this sort of thing,” she said. “So there are complexities because of politics.”
Dr. Laura has built her talk radio empire by urging people to “take on the day” despite individual emotional tugs to just do what feels good. She hits hard the issues of in tact families, stay at home parents and healthy relationships.
Recently a caller expressed her desire to be “optimistic” about her problem, but Dr. Laura instead suggested “realistic,” saying optimism and pessimism mean little. She doesn’t hesitate to call evil by its name and advocates the hard road if it is the right one.
“In this society people are brought up to think that whatever you feel like doing becomes the right thing and that’s really kinda stupid,” she said. “Find a way emotionally to face what’s right and ultimately you will feel better about yourself in life.”