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Posts Tagged ‘military family assistance’

Today, we are thrilled to share with you a blog piece by our President and C.E.O., John Pray, Jr. on how working together, we can build strong, stable and secure military families.

jprayblog11-11-16At Operation Homefront, we are driven to meet the needs of our veterans, service members and their families in their time of need because they have done so much to serve all of us in our nation’s time of need. Their stories matter as this amazing group of our fellow citizens chose to put our needs ahead of theirs and expect very little in return for their service.    Veterans Melissa and Aaron Schafer of Chattanooga, TN are members of this very special group.

Growing up in a military family, Melissa enlisted in the Army National Guard in 1998 as a military police officer and experienced her first active duty tour in 2002.   She subsequently enlisted in the Reserves, deployed to Afghanistan in 2007 and was honorably discharged in 2008 after being diagnosed with major arthritis in her back.

During her last year in service, Melissa met Aaron, who also served as a Military Police Officer in the Army.   They have been married for seven years and have three children.   Like many military families transitioning back to their civilian communities, they worked hard, but were finding it difficult to make ends meet for their family of five.

I met the Schafers in September, when we presented them the deed for a mortgage-free home after successfully completing our two-year Homes on the Homefront program.   We were joined by our long-time partner Chase, as well as Cracker Barrel Old Country Store,  on this special day.

“It’s a dream that I never thought would happen. It helped us focus on other things and prioritize. This home has become financially and emotionally rewarding for me and my family.said Melissa. “It has given us the opportunity to be successful homeowners (and) assisted us in reducing our debt and building a better future.”

Military families have earned the opportunity to thrive, not simply struggle to get by, in the communities they have worked so hard to protect.  For many this means needing temporary help with mortgage and rent payments, utilities, grocery bills, and car and home repairs.

Throughout 2016, we experienced a dramatic increase in the number of applications and requests for assistance that has put significant pressure on our ability to meet their critical needs.

Almost as soon as Hurricane Matthew left the eastern coast in October, we began to receive applications for assistance from military families across Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia seeking our help.

“Because of Hurricane Matthew we have lost all of our food and perishables due to power outages as well as it’s a struggle just to provide food monthly in general,” wrote one applicant.

“We have been without power for roughly 4 days and all of our food has gone bad. At this time, we cannot afford to replace all of our food due to all of the moving costs,” wrote another who had just moved to the area.

We know it’s never easy to ask for help even when you are going through a rough patch.

“Veterans and soldiers are very self-sufficient group,” wrote one client in a thank you email. “If they seek out Operation Homefront for assistance, then you are their last resort and they have already exhausted all other avenues… To have OH come through makes a world of difference. By you providing a temporary assistance, it made a huge difference in my life. My confidence is back, and the world turned for the positive for me. This was just through OH helping me for the one month that I couldn’t figure out.”

These are the types of success stories we work so hard to make possible.

Beginning Veterans Day, you will get a chance to read powerful stories of 11 military families whose lives have been made strong, stable and secure by Operation Homefront.  I hope all our donors feel very connected to those we are able to help and recognize the key role they play in making these wonderful stories happen.

Operation Homefront’s mission is to build strong, stable, and secure military families so they can thrive in the communities that they’ve worked so hard to protect.  Learn more about the impact we are having and how you can help.

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ATC-quote-graphic5Two weeks ago, in a largely unnoticed ceremony, the U.S. and NATO formally brought an end to combat operations in Afghanistan.

This conflict has exacted a heavy toll on our military families. For a generation of brave Americans who fought valiantly for 13 years, more than 5,000 made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and more than 50,000 have sustained injuries. I think we’re all relieved to put that battle behind us, but the fight is just beginning at home.

As an organization born out of 9/11, there’s a very real symbolism for Operation Homefront in the remarks made by U.S. Army General John Campbell, who presided over the ceremony on Dec. 8 in Kabul. General Campbell stated, “As the Afghan National Security Forces have become increasingly capable, we shift our focus from combat operations to building [Afghan] systems and processes to ensure long-term sustainability.”

Long-term sustainability, or the ability to endure, is something all freedom-loving people around the world can easily understand. While we certainly wish the Afghan people well, here at home our focus is on helping our own military families endure, including those who continue to serve, and the veterans leaving the active duty force as our military downsizes.

We’ve seen the needs of these families evolve over 13 years of war. Along the way, we’ve recognized that it isn’t merely good enough to be available in times of crisis. Rather, we also need to help them avoid another crisis in the future. So how do we do it?

In the past two years, thanks to our generous donors, we’ve provided more than $8 million in the form of emergency assistance grants to families in urgent need of help. Well more than 80% of these families have been post 9/11 veterans. We know that periods of financial crisis are rarely solved through one utility payment, rent payment, or providing a week’s worth of groceries.

Managing a tight budget can be a real challenge for any family, let alone military families. So we now require financial counseling – at no cost to the service member or veteran – when they seek assistance from us more than once. It may seem obvious to some, or perhaps an additional burden to a family in a crisis, but the point is to ensure that we’re doing our part to help families move toward a brighter future. And it’s needed now more than ever. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s the responsible thing to do.

It’s my hope that while the 13-year war will no longer be something we talk about every day, Americans will never forget the very real physical and emotional scars that these families will battle for decades to come.

At Operation Homefront, we’ll be here, focused on the long-term sustainability of these patriots and their families. I hope you’ll continue to join us as we support them, doing our part to answer the call.

Tim Farrell
COO, Operation Homefront

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Together we answer the call. Together, we are stronger – and our military families are stronger.

Our military is the best model of teamwork, without exception.

It starts on day one of basic training. What is the most important thing new recruits need to learn? How to work together as a team. It’s important to their success and their survival. And getting there takes work. But once they function as a cohesive unit, enemies fall, lives are saved and battles are won.

Together, they answer the call. For better or for worse, they are in it, side by side. But it goes beyond that.

With a common goal and shared sacrifice, bonds form that last a lifetime. Veterans who we have spoken to in our mission often mention that one of the toughest parts of trading military life to become a civilian is the loss of the comradery, the bonds, and the mission. That kind of connection is tough to find outside the military.

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” At Operation Homefront, we are one of many dedicated organizations supporting our military, veteran and wounded warrior families. Each has a unique mission and varying programs: addressing suicide prevention, advocating to our elected leaders, raising awareness of the challenges of a life in service. We are on the same path to a common goal…to honor and serve those who sacrifice so much for our country.

Operation Homefront can’t serve every need that military and veteran families have. Their challenges and situations are as unique and varied as they are. That’s why it is important to work together with other military and veteran service organizations so that the safety net of support extends as deep as it does wide.

While we work with MANY organizations and government agencies, we have some level of formalized collaborative relationships with the following:

100K Homes

American Legion

Auxiliary

American Red Cross

Armed Services YMCA

BBB Military Line

Code of Support

Clearpoint (Credit Counseling Services)

Feed The Children

Give-An-Hour

Goodwill Industries International

Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America

Kids In Distressed Situations

National Military Family Association

Military Child Education Coalition

Mission Continues

MOAA

Operation Gratitude

Our Military Kids

Semper Fi Fund

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)

USA Cares

Wounded Warrior Project

Yellow Ribbon Fund

We can’t say enough how proud we are to work together with others to help military families. Take some time to learn more about their work, and you will find powerful stories of families that were helped, crises that were avoided, or lives that were pulled back from the brink of going hungry or homeless, or both.

Together we answer the call. Together, we are stronger – and our military families are stronger.

vets-day_blog_thumbWhile we have formalized partnerships with the organizations listed above, it is certainly not an all-inclusive list of organizations who do great things for military families. That list would be much longer. There are many amazing small and large non-profits who step up in many ways to answer the call to help military families.

 

 

Find out more about how you too can answer the call to help military families at www.operationhomefront.net/answerthecall .

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Commentary by Tim Farrell, Chief Operating Officer, Operation Homefront

Families of Troops Deployed to Africa Ebola Mission are Eligible for Assistance from Operation Homefront

“The U.S. military remains the worldwide rapid-response force whether facing a military foe or natural disaster, and they are in need of our support,” said 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.

 

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