By MARTHA SMITH
Special to the Standard
NORTH KINGSTOWN – Business magnate Marc Perlman, president and CEO of Ocean State Job Lot, headquartered in the Quonset Business Park, recently won an auction benefiting the Wounded Warrior Project.
With a high bid of $60,000, Perlman brought home the second of three original, framed posters depicting a solider carrying his wounded comrade to safety. The three pieces of artwork were signed by all five living U.S. presidents – Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.
The announcement, including a video image of Perlman, was made on Bill O’Reilly’s Fox News talk show. last month
“Marc Perlman is a patriot as well as a very lucky guy,” said O’Reilly, noting that the poster is a combination of art and history. On only one other occasion have five living presidents signed the same item: Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Richard M. Nixon, George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter autographed a photo in November 1991.
O’Reilly called the fund-raising effort “a smashing success” and predicted total donations would exceed $200,000.
The Wounded Warrior Project’s stated purpose is to raise awareness and enlist public aid to provide for the needs of injured service members, to encourage injured military members to help one another and to provide “unique, direct programs and services” to those severely impaired in wartime.
It was founded in 2002 in Roanoke, Va. by John Melia, a veteran who had been severely wounded in a helicopter crash while serving in Somalia a decade earlier. Four other men joined him in the start-up.
The WWP considers enactment of a law mandating insured care for wounded military personnel its greatest accomplishment to date.
Consciousness of the tremendous amount of support needed on the home front has been raised as images of thousands of servicemen and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain damage and loss of limbs have been publicized.
The 64-year-old Perlman who co-founded Ocean State Job Lot 34 years ago, has shepherded its growth to a multi-million dollar chain of 100 discount stores operating throughout New England and upstate New York.
Under the aegis of OSJ PEP Investment, the Perlman group purchased the long-vacant former Ryan’s Market, in Wickford, for $865,000 in June 2010. The company closed the 5,200 square-foot space a year later.
Perlman did not return calls seeking comment on winning the Wounded Warrior poster.
Martha Smith is an award-winning journalist and author. Retired, she is an independent contractor for SRIN and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .