The National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia was incorporated in the District of Columbia on May 28, 1970. Voting membership is comprised of wives, children, parents, siblings and other close relatives of Americans who were or are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), Missing in Action (MIA), Killed in Action/Body not Recovered (KIA/BNR) and returned American Vietnam War POWs. Associate membership is comprised of POW/MIA and KIA/BNR relatives who do not meet voting membership requirements, veterans and other concerned citizens. The League, a nonprofit, tax-exempt, 501(c)3, humanitarian organization (FEIN #23-7071242) is financed by contributions from the families, veterans and others. The League’s sole purpose is to obtain the release of all prisoners, the fullest possible accounting for the missing and repatriation of all recoverable remains of those who died serving our nation during the Vietnam War.
The League originated on the west coast in the late 1960s. Believing that the US Government’s policy of keeping a low profile on the POW/MIA issue while urging family members to refrain from publicly discussing the problem was unjustified, the wife of a ranking POW initiated a loosely organized movement that evolved into the National League of POW/MIA Families. In October 1968, the first POW/MIA story was published. As a result of that publicity, the families began communicating with each other, and the group grew in strength from 50 to 100, to 300, and kept growing. Small POW/MIA family groups flooded the North Vietnamese delegation in Paris with telegraphic inquiries regarding the prisoners and missing, the first major activity in which hundreds of families participated.
Eventually, the necessity for formal incorporation was recognized. In May 1970, a special adhoc meeting of the families was held at Constitution Hall in Washington, DC, at which time the League’s charter and by-laws were adopted. Elected by the voting membership, now numbering approximately 1,000, a seven-member Board of Directors meets regularly to determine League policy and direction. Board Members, Regional Coordinators, responsible for activities in multi-state areas, and State Coordinators represent the League in most states.
The League’s national office is now staffed by only one full-time employee, responsible for administrative management of the office, coordinating public awareness and educational initiatives, and the implementation of policies established by the membership and the Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board is Ann Mills-Griffiths, an MIA sister who served as the League’s Executive Director from 1978 until 2011.