Reynoldsburg resident David Ratliff said he volunteered to become an ambassador for the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute program because it's a way to say thanks to veterans.

Reynoldsburg resident David Ratliff said he volunteered to become an ambassador for the U.S. Army Freedom Team Salute program because it's a way to say thanks to veterans.

Freedom Team Salute is a Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army program launched in May 2005 to recognize veterans, their parents, spouses, employers and "special supporters who have significantly contributed to supporting U.S. Army Soldiers and the Army's mission," according to its Web site, www.FreedomTeamSalute.com.

Ratliff is now a computer manager for J.P. Morgan Chase, but he is a veteran of Desert Storm who retired from the U.S. Army as a sergeant first class in 1992 after serving 16 years in military intelligence and as an electronic technician.

He received his own Freedom Team Salute package in March, through the efforts of his father, Donald, himself a Korean War veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

"When it arrived, I was very impressed with the package and I started looking into it and decided to become an ambassador for the program," Ratliff said. "It's a great way to honor the veterans of the U.S. Army and it gives a thank you for the time they spent there was really not a program out there doing that."

He said there are currently more than 600 ambassadors like himself throughout the country and overseas.

The cost of the program is covered by the U.S. Army. Since the Freedom Team Salute program started in 2005, Ratliff said, more than 1.5 people worldwide have received commendation packages. These include a certificate of appreciation and a personalized letter signed by the Secretary of the Army and Army Chief of Staff, an official U.S. Army lapel pin and two Army decals.

He said in 1990, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 1,100 World War II veterans were dying every day and now, in 2009 Korean War veterans are dying.

"It staggered me when I saw that, so I wanted to help and make sure we got our veterans and active duty folks taken care of with this great program," he said.

Ratliff said anyone who knows of a veteran and would like them honored can call him with the person's rank, when they retired, their current mailing address and phone number.

He processes the information and sends out the Freedom Team Salute materials.

He said packages arrive in three to four weeks. Those interested in participating can e-mail him at Ratliff-FTSAMB@insight.rr.com or call him at (614) 762-3826.

According to the Freedom Team Salute Web site, Army veterans include those who served in the Army Air Force, Army Air Corps, Women's Air Corps and Army Nurse Corps.