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Posts Tagged ‘helping veterans’

Jacob Richardson, wife Leanne, and kids Joshua and Emily, with family pet, Cupcake.

To become a good Army chaplain, Jacob Richardson wanted to learn about the Army and service members’ experiences from the ground up. So, with that in mind, Jacob enlisted two years ago.

This summer, the next step in his journey to chaplaincy begins as he transitions out of the Army, moves from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to Texas to become a full-time student at the Dallas Theology Seminary and his wife Leanne goes back to work.

All of those changes are difficult enough but with the stay-at-home orders because of COVID-19, the Richardsons could not visit the areas around Dallas to find a home. The family found the stability they were looking for in Operation Homefront’s Transitional Homes for Community Reintegration (THCR) program.

Since 2018, THCR has helped families who are transitioning out of the military. The program added a home in Fate, Texas, a small-town just 40 minutes away from downtown Dallas. Leanne was already familiar with Operation Homefront programs like Back-to-School Brigade and Holiday Toy Drive so when the couple found saw the Texas THCR home so close where Jacob would be getting his master’s and she would be working in special education, they knew they had to apply. The Richardson family was accepted into the program and will move into the three-bedroom, two-bath home this summer.

“I feel a lot more comfortable with this,” Leanne said, than the option of trying to get housing without seeing the area. “I am definitely feeling blessed that we were chosen.”

Through THCR, the couple and their two children, Joshua, 7, and Emily, 4, will live in the home for two to three years. Jacob will work with a financial advisor to help them fully transition into civilian life and save money to buy their own home once they leave the program. The program is made possible with a generous donation from the A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation.

Jacob thanked the donors who make the program possible.

“We don’t know what we would have done otherwise,” Jacob said. “This transition period for us, with us switching roles for our family, and COVID definitely kind of threw a wrench into it, this certainly brought some peace to this whole process.”

Leanne added that it was a way to help them focus on getting their children settled, especially since she would be going back to work.

“Having this figured out and knowing the house we are going into, knowing it’s going to be a good one, that’s livable and safe, brings a lot of peace to our minds,” she said.

During his time in the Army, Jacob deployed for about a year to Syria. His time in the Army is not his first time in the service. He had been enlisted in the Marines for two years starting in 2006.

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vickie at baghdad sign

Operation Homefront Communications Manager Vickie Starr

With 84 percent of our staff either veterans or coming from a military family, the 100th anniversary of Veterans Day resonates at Operation Homefront. 

From our top executives, to our staff working throughout the nation, and from our board members to our volunteer brigade (more than 4,500 strong with 56 percent being service members or military spouses), Operation Homefront understands the sacrifices made by our country’s military families.

We asked one of our own to tell us, in her own words, about serving our country.

Operation Homefront Communications Manager Vickie Starr, veteran, US Air Force November 1978 – August 1987; US Army May 1990 – 1993 

I have several immediate thoughts when I think of Veterans Day. The first is the overwhelming support that the American people showed to military troops during the Gulf War in 1990-1991. As part of the 786th Transportation Company, an Army National Guard unit in Lucedale, Mississippi, we were activated in November 1990. As we made the drive from Lucedale to Fort Stewart, Georgia, we encountered many people waving miniature flags as we passed by. Whenever the convoy stopped, people voiced their support of us, America, and the U.S. military.

When we returned from our deployment to Saudi Arabia in May 1991, I was once again overwhelmed by the support—this time from Vietnam veterans and the local Bangor, Maine community.  We were, by far, not the first troops to return from Desert Storm—the first in country were the first out. Yet, when our plan landed in Bangor for refueling, at 3:00 a.m. (as in early, early pre morning), this Mississippi Army National Guard unit was met by a group of local Vietnam veterans. These Vietnam veterans wanted to make sure that all military troops were welcomed back to the United States. They had also convinced members of the local community that getting up at 2:00 a.m. to welcome soldiers back to the United States at 3:00 a.m. was a great idea. At that point, I really knew that being a member of the military was being a part of brotherhood, and I would always have a connection to this select group of individuals.

A few years after Desert Storm, I got together with a fellow soldier and attended the Laser show at Stone Mountain, Georgia. As the night fell, the show began which was military themed. Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” played across the loudspeaker as the American flag wavered against Stone Mountain. Each branch of the military was recognized, and the veterans in the audience were asked to stand. I had never considered myself to be more patriotic than anyone else, but in that moment I had an overwhelming sense of patriotism, an overwhelming sense of pride, and a few tears. When Billy Ray Cyrus’ “Some Gave All” played a few minutes later, the tears did not stop. The cost of freedom is never free, and we must always remember those who walked before us, and that “All Gave Some and Some Gave All.”

That same support from the American people, that I witnessed firsthand in 1990, is what allows Operation Homefront to accomplish all of the many things we do for today’s veteran and military families. Our supporters give of their money, time, and goods, which we must always be thankful for – they are our cheerleaders. The other driving force is the “brotherhood of the military” (please note that as a female the brotherhood is meant to be inclusive of all). People associated with the military want to help each other as witnessed by my encounter with the Vietnam veterans in Maine. Operation Homefront helps veteran and military families because many of us have a tie to the military, and we want to give back to our brothers and sisters, who will in turn pay it forward and give back to others. And the pride and patriotism keeps all of us going when the days are long and things seem to go wrong. Patriotism reminds us that some of our veterans, our military, and their families made the ultimate sacrifice, while others are living with their sacrifice daily.

Join Operation Homefront in recognizing the 100th celebration of Veterans Day through our Raise Your Hand campaign. Click here to learn more.

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