The great 19th-century French observer of our country, Alexis de Tocqueville, was amazed at how "Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations . . . proposing a common object for the exertions of a great many men and . . . inducing them voluntarily to pursue it." Once combined, "they are no longer isolated men, but a power seen from afar, whose actions serve for an example and whose language is listened to."

This remains true today. Since 9/11, the American habit of voluntary associations has been particularly pronounced as groups have sprung into existence to support the military, especially combat wounded and families of the fallen. Many of these groups, including the Semper Fi Fund and Hope For The Warriors, were founded and are now led by military wives.

Karen Guenther is a nurse and the wife of a Marine. In 2003, she was working at Camp Pendleton Naval Hospital in California when the first wave of wounded arrived from Iraq. She was standing next to a young military wife, when the woman saw her horribly injured husband for the first time. Shaken, she nearly collapsed.

As Karen quietly steadied the woman, she realized something more was needed to help families cope with the combat injuries and deaths of their loved ones. Karen and seven other determined women met around her kitchen table to talk about what to do. They were drawn together by the recognition that while government does an incredible job of binding up wounds and putting warriors on the road to recovery, it is a large, often impersonal, bureaucracy. Their response was to launch the Semper Fi Fund.

To continue reading Karl Rove's column in the Wall Street Journal, click here.