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A Message from Our President and CEO, Gen. John I. Pray, Jr., to Our Military Families, Supporters, and Friends

Over the past several weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic reached our shores, we, as Americans, have experienced a fundamental change in our way of life.  I want all to know that despite this change and those that may follow, Operation Homefront stands ready to support our military families during this national crisis.  The entire Operation Homefront family – staff, board members, volunteers, corporate/foundation/individual donors and other key stakeholders, is committed to our vital mission and to ensuring our military families receive the financial assistance they urgently need – when they need it.

As our nation works to cope with the many unknowns, we are grateful for the continued support of those who are very likely facing their own challenges. Simply put, we could not do what we do to support this very special and deserving group of our fellow citizens without your various contributions to our important work.  Working together, as we have done for so many years, I know we will be able to help our military families – and each other – as we deal with this crisis.

View our CEO’s message here.

 

More details can also be found on our website at www.operationhomefront.org.

Please also follow us on our social media for the latest from Operation Homefront.  You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Resources:

CDC webpage on COVID-19

Department of Defense Coronavirus Page

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We know you’ve been waiting, and here they are! The 100 semi-finalists,  20 representing each branch of Service, that are up for the 2013 Military Child of the Year Award:

AIR FORCE:

Benjamin H. – Age 16 – Roy, Wash.
Matthew W. – Age 17 – McGuire AFB, N.J.
Mark N. – Age 17 – Fairchild AFB, Wash.
Elizabeth U. – Age 17 – Andrews AFB, Md.
Azalee M. – Age 17 – Biloxi, Miss.
Loxley P. – Age 10 – Holloman AFB, N.M.
Jared M. – Age 14 – Anchorage, Alaska
Cassidy G. – Age 17 – Navarre, Fla.
Amoreh A. – Age 9 – Columbus, Ohio
Caitlin H. – Age 16 – Yorktown, Va.
Joseph N. – Age 11 – Carvel Beach, Md.
Devin G. – Age 10 – Edmond, Okla.
Ryan W. – Age 9 – Norway
Carley C. – Age 12 – Lithia, Fla.
Kaylee W. – Age 17 – Goldsboro, N.C.
Derrick W. – Age 13 – Poquoson, Va.
Katelyn R. – Age 13 – Mountain Home, Idaho
Kinsley C. – Age 8 – Montgomery, Ala.
Bree W. – Age 11 – Sheppard AFB, Texas
Edward V. – Age 9 – Las Vegas, Nev.

ARMY:

James M. – Age 14 – Fort Meyer, Va.
Ben H. – Age 13 – South Korea
DeAnna T. – Age 10 – Fort Knox, Ky.
Riley C. – Age 9 – Wahiawa, Hawaii
Consuela T. – Age 8 – Killeen, Texas
Elizabeth C. – Age 18 – Bel Air, Md.
Loran C. – Age 18 – El Paso, Texas
Isabelle B. – Age 13 – Harker Heights, Texas
Alyssa C. – Age 12 – Fort Hood, Texas
Nicole D. – Age 16 – Fort Lee, Va.
Hunter H. – Age 11 – Valrico, Fla.
Caitlyn H. – Age 9 – Adams, N.Y.
Madeline S. – Age 13 – Frederick, Md.
Kimokeo W. – Age 11 – Egypt
Karlie B. – Age 13 – Colorado Springs, Colo.
Trinity M. – Age 11 – Eatonville, Wash.
Natalia S. – Age 11 – Clarksville, Tenn.
Haleigh G. – Age 17 – Chesterfield, Va.
Amari B. – Age 10 – Fort Sill, Okla.
Leilani R. – Age 9 – Fort Hood, Texas

COAST GUARD:

Isaak B. – Age 11 – Union City, Tenn.
Isabel B. – Age 8 – Union City, Tenn.
Quinn C. – Age 9 – Mililani, Hawaii
Elijah D. – Age 10 – Saint Ignace, Mich.
Madison D. – Age 8 – Honolulu, Hawaii
Reino G. – Age 14 – Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Dacey H. – Age 17 – Key West, Fla.
Devin J. – Age 18 – Cransberry Township, Pa.
Madeline K. – Age 12 – Beaufort, N.C.
Israel L. – Age 13 – Key West, Fla.
Keandra M. – Age 14 – Bellingham, Wash.
Peter M. – Age 9 – Kodiak, Alaska
Austin N. – Age 15 – Wilmington, N.C.
Andrea P. – Age 13 – Rio Grande, P.R.
Fabian R. – Age 11 – Siminole, Wash.
Reagan S. – Age 12 – Sequim, Wash.
Jerome S. – Age 12 – Newport, Wash.
Hannah T. – Age 17 – Cape May, N.J.
Amanda W. – Age 18 – McGuire AFB, N.J.
Matthew Y. – Age 17 – Fairhope, Ala.

MARINE CORPS:

Victoria A. – Age 12 – Oceanside, Calif.
Chaise B. – Age 10 – Oceanside, Calif.
Jacob C. – Age 11 – Kailua, Hawaii
Dillon G. – Age 18 – Fredericksburg, Va.
Matthew G. – Age 12 – Bristow, Va.
Justin G. – Age 14 – Oceanside, Calif.
Brianna H. – Age 17 – San Clemente, Calif.
Mitchell J. – Age 17 – San Diego, Calif.
Michael-Logan J. – Age 13 – Kailua, Hawaii
Penelope K. – Age 15 – Japan
Kelly K. – Age 17 – Meridian, Miss.
Brandy L. – Age 12 – Yuma, Ariz.
Emma M. – Age 8 – Richlands, N.C.
Abigail P. – Age 17 – Bahrain
Brigid R. – Age 8 – Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Salvatore S. – Age 16 – Camp Lejeune, N.C.
Madeline T. – Age 13 – Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Kassandra V. – Age 8 – Richlands, N.C.
Darian W. – Age 12 – Oceanside, Calif.
Isaabel Z. – Age 10 – Suffolk, Va.

NAVY:
Taylor B. – Age 17 – Twentynine Palms, Calif.
Alexander B. – Age 17 – Grand Forks, N.D.
Ruth C. – Age 13 – Bremerton, Wash.
Ryan C. – Age 17 – Colorado Springs, Colo.
Isabella G. – Age 14 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Jamie H. – Age 12 – Coronado, Calif.
Mina J. – Age 16 – Chesapeake, Va.
Sierra J. – Age 10 – California, Md.
Daniel K. – Age 13 – Lake Stevens, Wash.
Jack L. – Age 12 – Corpus Christi, Texas
Adriel M. – Age 14 – Poulsbo, Wash.
Andrea P. – Age 9 – Cheasapeake, Va.
Robert P. – Age 10 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Mekenzie P. – Age 12 – Great Lakes, Ill.
Luna P. – Age 13 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Jackson S. – Age 14 – Coronado, Calif.
Magnus T. – Age 10 – Elk Grove, Calif.
Skyler W. – Age 8 – Lemoore, Calif.
Michael W. – Age 9 – Virginia Beach, Va.
Tyler Z. – Age 17 – Suffolk, Va.

Learn more by visiting the MCOY page at www.militarychildoftheyear.org.

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Continuing To Serve Those Who Serve

Colonel J. S. Anderson, U.S. Marine Corps (Retired), Chapter President of Operation Homefront Southern California.  

From the Halls of Montezuma,
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country’s battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean:
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.-USMC hymn 

As the strands of the Marines Hymn rang out over the AAA baseball game he was attending, Jay Anderson, (Col, USMC, Ret.) rose to stand  with another Marine veteran, one who had fought  in World War I.  The crowd responded to their display of pride with a standing ovation. Jay recalls experiencing that same pride, “Every day that I put on the uniform of the United States Marine Corps, particularly when serving overseas.”  His service to our country spanned 30 years with the USMC, and he continues to serve our country’s finest as Chapter President of Operation Homefront of Southern California.

Over the course of his career, seeing the initiative, creativity and ability of Marines in his commands to adapt, innovate, and improve in the face of any challenge convinces him that today’s young veterans are poised to lead our country through these troubling times and build a stronger future for our nation and our children. “Their World War II forefathers returned from war, after seeing the worst that man can do to his fellow man, and worked together to fix the problems of our nation, making it the strongest in the world.  These young vets have also experienced the horrors of war and are doing the same, in politics, business, and society in general.  They are the future leaders in every element of our society.”

“The OIF/OEF veterans are America’s next greatest generation.”

To learn more about the great work that Jay and his staff are doing for our military families and wounded warriors in the Southern California region, please visit them on the web, connect with them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter.

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By Jim Knotts, CEO of Operation Homefront

By December, defense officials estimate the number of U.S. troops left in Iraq, if any at all, will amount to less than 5,000. At the height of the war, in 2006 and 2007, the U.S. had between 130,000 to 172,000 men and women fighting there.

By summer 2012, the total number of deployed troops in the Mideast will drop from 150,000 to 70,000.

Cue the ticker tape parades and kissing couples in Times Square, right?

Wrong.

After almost ten years of fighting, America’s soldiers, and their families, are exhausted. The military’s expansive manpower needs have meant that active duty as well as Reserve and National Guard forces have served overseas, often, more than once.

An astonishing 2.3 million servicemembers have deployed since Sept. 11, 2001. Roughly 1 million of those people have deployed twice, three and even four times.

As the battles waged, there was a groundswell of support for the soldiers and their families from local communities. Nonprofits were formed overnight to provide everything from baby showers for Army wives left home alone to summer camps for teenage military kids.

The military too increased its efforts to support families. New programs were created and individuals were hired specifically to organize family support groups within individual units. Money, millions of dollars worth, was spent to help stabilize these families during very rough times.

Now, the troops are headed home. It would be easy for outsiders, especially those who have never endured a wartime deployment, to believe that all is happy and good for those families.

Unfortunately that may not be the case.

During those years of war, many military children grew up seeing their servicemember parent for only a few months each year. Thousands of other children had a parent killed in action. Thousands more now live with a parent who is severely disabled due to their wartime injuries.

Mental health experts are still grappling with the long-term effects of deployment on military children. From 2003 to 2008 the number of outpatient mental health visits for children of active duty parents doubled from one million to two million. During the same time period, the number of days military children spent in psychiatric care centers increased as well.

Reports of child abuse, domestic abuse, alcoholism and drug abuse among troops also grew with each passing year. Military couples continue to post increasing divorce rates as the strain of repeated deployments grows heavier.

The war may almost be over, but the battle at home has just begun.

America’s warriors are now facing an uncertain future. Their bodies are broken. Their families have suffered. By year’s end, their jobs may be gone as well.

Federal budget cuts have already lopped $465 billion from the defense budget.

Additional cuts, which members of the House Armed Services Committee estimate could be as much as $500 billion, would mean 200,000 Marines and soldiers would lose their jobs.

In an economy already struggling to employ every American searching for a job, these men and women may have an even tougher search. The current unemployment rate for young Iraq and Afghanistan veterans is 22 percent. For veterans combined, young and old, it’s 11 percent. Compare this to the national rate of 9 percent.

Wounded veterans face an unemployment rate of 41 percent.

Ships would not be built. Fighters would not fly. Troops would be asked to perform more missions with less people and more time away from home.

In military homes, the cuts could cause significant hardships as well. Lawmakers opposing the budget slashes suggest that military families living overseas could be asked to pay tuition for their children to attend on-post schools, as much as $2,850 per child.

Commissary savings would be reduced if not decimated completely. Spouses would receive less tuition assistance. Over $300 million in morale, welfare and recreation programs at bases around the world will disappear.

The changes ahead for our nation and its military leave Operation Homefront left to consider how our mission will change as well.

Historically, our role has been to assist the families of deployed service members. As those missions come to a close, we must re-evaluate the needs of these families now and how we can best serve them.

Part of this decision means evaluating not just our resources, but those of the nation.

As communities see more of their warriors returning, and staying home, will they lose their drive to rally around military families? It is easy to assume that military homecomings mean a happy ending. As the statistics above suggest, that is not always the case.

As budgets are slashed, and on-base resources are eliminated, will military families increasingly begin searching for help off base? Will those resources be gone as well?

After almost ten years of great personal sacrifice, America’s warriors, and their families, are being asked to give even more.

Americans everywhere need to consider not just the cost of the military in dollars. They need to weigh the years of hardship, separation and dedication given by the families who served and how sweeping budget cuts will leave many of them not just jobless but broken and destitute.

The war may almost be over but the fight has just begun. Continue to step up America. Your defenders need you now, possibly more than ever.

(Photo, left to right: Jim Knotts, CEO of Operation Homefront and Carlos Evans, a resident at one of our Operation Homefront Villages for wounded warriors, meet up at our Annual Reception.)

Sources:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-puts-iraq-withdrawal-plans-under-wraps-to-discourage-attacks/2011/10/13/gIQAGw4LiL_story.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/24/AR2010052403842.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/sep/29/report-budget-cuts-would-leave-military-hollow/?page=all

http://www.nccp.org/publications/pub_938.html

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/nov/28/divorce-rate-in-military-continues-upward-trend/

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=052aad71-19cb-4fbe-a1b5-389689d542d7

http://www.navytimes.com/news/2011/10/military-gop-lawmakers-dig-in-against-defense-cuts-101011w/

http://forbes.house.gov/StrongAmerica/

http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2011/08/01/more-young-veterans-jobless/

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