The Alabama Republican Party (ALGOP) has started a GoFundMe to help ease the financial burden on the families of the now-released Alabama men captured by Russian forces in June.
Alex Drueke of Tuscaloosa, and Andy Huynh of Lawrence County, both military veterans, were captured by Russian forces in June while serving as volunteer fighters for Ukraine.
The two were released in September as part of a prisoner exchange between the U.S. and Russia.
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, helped negotiate their return, and the pair were transported to the U.S. Embassy in the Saudi Arabian capital.
According to a release from ALGOP, the families of Huynh and Drueke have been responsible for bearing the financial burden of their absence.
"Not only were the two men held captive for months and not able to make a living, but family members are still working to pay off bills for the cost of their transportation home from the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh," The release read.
Although Alabama's political committee rules do not allow the Republican Party to contribute directly, ALGOP Chairman Wahl is encouraging party members and the public to donate to the GoFundMe page to help the family raise a targeted $5,000. Wahl said he also arranged anonymous ALGOP donors to match all raised funds.
"We are incredibly thankful for Alex and Andy's sacrifice, both during their time in the U.S. military and what they went through on behalf of the people of Ukraine," Wahl said. "When I learned their families were paying off their flights home, I felt it was important for us to step up and help. These families went through so much, and I wanted to show that we cared. The Alabama Republican Party has always been supportive of our veterans, and this is just one small way we can help give back."
All funds raised will go directly to Dianna Shaw – Alex Drueke's aunt – who put all the expenses to bring both men home on her credit card.
"People across our state prayed for Andy and Alex's safe return. We thank God that they made it home, and that they are able to spend this Christmas with their families. We hope this campaign will do a little to show our appreciation, and let them know that the people of Alabama are glad they are home this holiday season."
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