My brother, Joe Dunsavage, disappeared in the waters off the island of Roatan, Honduras, on May 10, 2009. I will be telling his story -- and my family's -- as this project progresses. But what is The Missing Americans Project?
As my family has struggled with our own loss, we also have had the opportunity to meet with other families who are contending with similar losses. Along the way we have learned things that might be of help to families in similar situations. Most important, we have learned how alone every American family who loses a loved one outside our borders is. We have found a shocking lack of interest and absence of standard operating procdedures in the U.S. embassies we and others have dealt with. We have found that few "official" resources exist for helping us find our family members.
At the same time, we also have found that individuals and organizations are operating in relative isolation, trying to advocate for and support the families of the missing.
The Missing Americans Project is intended to:
* Build public awareness of the problems surrounding missing Americans that do not receive coverage in the mainstream media;
* Build support for increasing the accountability and transparency of U.S. State Department processes where missing Americans are concerned.
* Where necessary, lobby for legal and policy changes to facilitate action and information sharing in missing persons cases.
* Cultivate a worldwide network of resources capable of responding rapidly to these situations, without getting bogged down in the bureaucratic wrangling that appears to be business as usual for the State Department.
To do all these things, we will need moral and financial support. I will say more about this in blog posts to come.