Helping Out a Foxhole Atheist June 20, 2011

Helping Out a Foxhole Atheist

Oscar Zavala is an infantry squad leader in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division and he’s served two tours in Afghanistan. Last month, he nearly lost his life:

On May 28th, Oscar was leading his squad on a foot patrol in eastern Afghanistan when he was injured by an explosive device in eastern Afghanistan. He was evacuated from the scene quickly and is currently recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

What you probably won’t hear about anywhere else is that Oscar and his wife Grace are both proud atheists 🙂 She organizes the Military Atheists & Secular Humanists meetup group at Fort Campbell (Kentucky) and helps lead the Students for Secular Humanism at Austin Peay State University (Tennessee).

Members of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers and local DC organizations have made several visits to provide reading materials and spend some time thanking Oscar for his service. Mutual support for those of us in need shows that we are not only intellectuals or activists, but an extended family defined and inspired by our shared values.

One way to help Oscar out would be to write him letters of support. Get your kids to help out, too 🙂 Jason Torpy of MAAF is happy to collect and deliver them to Oscar and Grace.

You can send your letters to 1380 Monroe St NW PMB 505, Washington, DC 20010 or email them to

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • walter

    what about setting a chipin widget to collect support for this atheist in the foxhole?

  • maria

    I hope he gets better!, espero que se recupere pronto!!

  • Claudia

    Echoing what walter said. If the family is in economic need, that’s something a lot of us would like to know.

  • Jennine

    Walter, Claudia… I was a Christian for 39 years. It makes a person get used to being “prayed for” while in a crisis. I guess that’s why I feel a sense of shock when folks want to help in a real way.

    I love (most) Atheists!

  • walter

    We could call it “Solidarity Fund” or whatever. Does anyone have any idea whether Oscar is in a financial need? His pay is probably miserable, and his future on active duty may not be there, and even though armed forces are supposed to take care of their own often times it doesn’t mean much.

  • Leena

    I have no idea what to say if I were to send a letter, but I hope he gets better.

  • walter

    I’ll pass on your supportive message.  They don’t seem to need any specific support, but it is offered.  Messages like yours are a good start.  To help them and others like them, you can always donate to MAAF, and that will go to helping humanists in the military especially those in need like Oscar.  Our deployment support program specifically provides for care packages for deployed service members.  If you are in a position to make a larger gift, I can discuss in more detail how the funds might be used.

    Jason Torpy
    President, Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers
    (202)-656-MAAF (6223)

    Fighting for the Freedoms We Defend

    On Tue, Jun 21, 2011 at 9:40 PM, Wlodek wrote:
    it came to my attention that Oscar Zavala is recovering from injuries suffered in service of our country. I have also learned that Grace is an active organizer of a support group for troops and wives of those troops who are atheists. I have learned about it from Friendly Atheist website (Hemant Mehta). Would you mind giving all of us who follow Hemant Mehta on his website more info about Oscar and Grace? Are they in a financial need? Do they need anything else? I think I speak for many of us who would like to express atheist solidarity with them by organizing any help they need.

    If you are in contact with Oscar or Grace, would you mind telling them that we are very proud of Oscar service and Grace’s great works and that we stand by them not only in spirit but we are also ready to assist if any assistance is needed.

    Thank you,

  • walter

    I am attaching a copy of the correspondence I sent to the address provided above regarding Oscar’s needs and a very quick response. Are we in a position to make a “larger gift”?

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