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Former Marine Sayku Dudley describes his childhood in Atlanta, Georgia, as rough. As a kid, Sayku was motivated to find a better life for himself.

Sayku started going to softball games and barbeques hosted by local military recruiters and became good friends with one of them.

“As things became worse in my environment,” said Sayku, “I decided to … join the military. As I was deciding which branch of service to go into, I thought the Marines looked the toughest and the fittest. I went into the Marines because I wanted to look like that guy who stood out from the rest.”

dudleyAfter basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina, Sayku was stationed at Twenty-nine Palms, the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command in California.  He spent time in Japan and Mexico before returning to Atlanta to join the Marine Reserves.

After 9/11, Sayku deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.  “I was almost killed,” said Sayku. “But I recovered.” Eventually he came back to Georgia. “My career was cut short at the end,” said Sayku. “I am fighting for medical retirement. I have had multiple personal problems. I have lost stripes. Since 2009, I have been going through the storm of my life.”

Sayku struggles with depression and post-traumatic stress. His financial situation was bleak and he faced having his lights and utilities shut off. He first turned to Wounded Warrior Project for help, and in turn, they referred him to Operation Homefront.  Operation Homefront was able to provide   the financial assistance he needed during a difficult financial time.

Sakyu request was just one of over 1,700 military families we’ve helped so far this year, and one of 11,000 since our inception in 2012.  89.4% of our 2016 clients surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that OH’s Emergency Assistance Program helps build strong, stable, and secure military families.

Sayku is thankful that things are better now than they were last year. “I was in a mental state that I didn’t know I was in or how to get out. After I left the military, I had problems and haven’t been able to do. This is not where I ever thought I would be.”

To those who donate to OH, Sayku said, “There are not a lot of words. I would rather do than say. I am so very thankful. I am glad that you (OH) was able to help me. Asking for help really checks your pride. I am very thankful for the help, and I am on a new path and thanks to you I can do for now. I definitely know what it’s like to not have. It’s very humbling to be where I am.”

Sayku recently began work at Home Depot part-time. “I haven’t been in the work world for a while,” said Sayku. “This is a new start. I have been on a rocky road filled with debts and family problems. But now I am in a different place and keep remembering how far I came. I am starting over new. This time I am going to succeed either by working multiple jobs or going back to school.”

Join in the conversation with us as we celebrate those veterans among us, by sharing stories of your own. Through Facebook or Twitter, please use the hashtag #11days11stories to share your own inspirational story of a veteran in your life.

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We asked. You heard and responded. Thank you for answering the call!

On Giving Tuesday last month, we announced that our friends at Murphy-Goode Winery had offered a $100,000 match for donations to Operation Homefront. Many of you jumped on board and gave! And we met our match…quickly…with flying colors!

But it’s more than just dollars and numbers. It affects real people, like:

  • Amanda, a single mom from Arkansas, who joined the Army and was injured while deployed. Operation Homefront helped her with food, diapers, and her mortgage payment, helping her get back on her feet again.
  • David, a sailor from Arizona, who has a long legacy of military service in his family. He was injured while serving on an aircraft carrier, underwent many surgeries and got caught up in VA delays with no money to make ends meet. We helped him with food, utilities and travel costs for his medical appointments.
  • Sean, a wounded Marine from Illinois, who joined the service after Sept. 11. He battles PTSD and brain cancer. Operation Homefront helped him with car repairs so he could get to his medical appointments.

And the list goes on and includes thousands of families we’ve been honored to serve. We asked you to answer the call and you responded. When you gave to Operation Homefront, you helped them too. You played a part in making life a little easier for our military families and wounded warriors.

So, from us to you, thank you!

And thank you to Murphy-Goode for generously supporting our military families for another year!

Assistance is in the form of grants, not loans, and covers some of the most basic of needs like food, rent, utilities, and critical home repairs. Transitional and permanent mortgage-free housing, as well as family and caregiver support, round out the host of services our organization provides to thousands of military and veteran families each year. Donations can be made using our online donation form or given to our ongoing list of Current Needs.

 

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