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'You're not alone' | Nonprofit sends roughly 17,000 holiday letters to veterans in need

The Semper Fi & Americas Fund supports combat wounded, critically ill and injured service members.

PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, Va. — A Northern Virginia charity spent the morning packing close to 17,000 holiday care packages for servicemen and women in need.

"It's the least we can do for all that they have done for us," said Laura Castellvi.

She's the Director of Community Outreach for the Semper Fi & Americas Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to supporting combat wounded, critically ill and injured active and non-active military members.

To date, they've provided over $200 million of financial support, career coaching and mentorship, according to Castellvi. 

For retired Air Force Master Sergeant John Proellochs, that mission's personal.

"My wife who is an Air Force veteran was an amputee and the Semper Fi Fund came in and helped us adapt a bathroom," Proellochs said. "I felt like I needed to pay back to them."

He did.

Proellochs started volunteering. Years later, he joined the nonprofit staff as a peer counselor for other veterans.

Being able to help them, he said is, "an amazing opportunity."

It's a calling inspired by his wife, who he lost in March.

"That was the whole reason why we got involved," he said. "She was diagnosed with cancer four years ago."

On Saturday, he helped send the same cards they once got.

"She received four of these...over the years," said Proellochs.

And he shared a message, in every letter, whose value he knows all too well.

"You need to be thankful and you need to count your blessings," he said. "You have people that are out there that love you and that care about you especially during the holidays....you're not alone."

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