Commentary by Tim Farrell, Chief Operating Officer, Operation Homefront
Last week, President Obama issued an executive order authorizing the activation of the National Guard and Reserves in support of Operation United Assistance – the name given to the U.S. military’s humanitarian mission to fight Ebola in West Africa. Guard and Reserve families know very well what it means to serve our nation on little notice, as natural disasters and crisis situations rarely offer advance warning. Not only is our military the world’s finest fighting force, it’s also the world’s finest emergency response, crisis and humanitarian relief organization, bar none.
The present military mission in West Africa is as urgent and compelling as any war time scenario, which is why we’ve extended emergency financial assistance to the families of those deployed to support operations in West Africa. While our limited resources are principally focused to those deployed in combat or combat support roles, the nature of the Ebola fight is of no less consequence than any other our military might face on the field of battle. And just as service members are accustomed to remaining flexible when deployment orders are received, we need to be equally flexible and accommodating to the families they leave behind.
While the fight against Ebola is a non-combat operation, the military is an indispensable part of the international response thanks to the unique engineering, logistics and rapid response capabilities they bring to the table. With more than 500 service members already on the ground, as many as 4,000 could be involved in the operation over the course of a year. That’s a lot of families holding down the homefront on their own. So we are honored to provide peace of mind when the unexpected occurs: a car breaks down, a furnace stops working in the winter, or the costs of utilities become too much for a fixed budget.
It’s worth noting that we wouldn’t be able to extend our eligibility criteria for these families if it weren’t for our generous donors, who make our emergency financial services possible. Despite the drawdown of the mission in Afghanistan, it’s plainly clear that with the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State, and the uncertain nature of global security, our military is going to be called upon and they will continue to need our support well into the future. Equally important, our military families will continue to be the linchpin of solidarity and support when their loved ones are called into harm’s way. We’ll be here for those families, when their Soldier, Sailor, Airmen or Marine can’t be there for them.
Families of deployed service members can apply for assistance online at OperationHomefront.net or by calling 877-264-3968.