Operation Homefront, Helping Veterans and Military Families Thrive
Following the terrorist’s attacks of September 11, 2001, men and women in uniform from all branches of service were deployed far from home – well over 1 million in the first four years. The families left behind struggled to deal with the implications of a nation at war. Spouses struggled with financial issues, managing households on their own, and navigating the military lifestyle. Operation Homefront was formed just months after the attacks, in early 2002 when a group of military spouses in southern California banded together to support each other and meet the urgent needs of families left behind.
Other patriotic Americans in communities across the nation soon followed their example, and dozens of Operation Homefront chapters were created to support local military families. Since then, Operation Homefront has grown into a leading national nonprofit organization that serves tens of thousands of military families each year through a variety of programs.
Critical Financial Assistance
Demario is an Iraqi War veteran who was injured in 2007. He returned home, and along with his doctors, fought for almost nine years to keep his leg. In 2016, doctors decided that limb amputation would provide Demario with more mobility which also meant that Demario would spend more time in a wheelchair.
His wife reached out to Operation Homefront for help to upgrade their home to be more wheelchair accessible as Demario adapted to a new stage in his life and another transition. Operation Homefront provided Critical Financial Assistance so Demario’s bathroom would be more accessible and an outside ramp could be built for wheelchair access to his home.
The Critical Financial Assistance program is one way Operation Homefront helps active duty and wounded, ill, and injured veterans. The program provides help to military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, rent and mortgage payments, utility payments and other financial needs. Since 2011, Operation Homefront has provided nearly $22 million in critical financial assistance and fulfilled over 37,000 requests from military families.
Steven served eight and a half years in the Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan three times. After his last deployment in 2011, Steven began exhibiting the symptoms of traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress. He was retired from the Marine Corps with a 100 percent disability rating.
Because Steven’s separation from the service was so sudden, he became homeless and had to send his family to live with relatives. Steven was overwhelmed as he dealt with financial difficulties as he awaited his disability pay to start, struggled with transitioning from the Marines, and dealt with his injuries.
Operation Homefront helped provide Stephen with temporary housing at our San Antonio Village. Operation Homefront’s Transitional Housing Program allows service members to live rent free as they complete the transition process and await their benefits to begin. Service members, veterans, and their families attend support groups, financial counseling, benefits briefings, and resume writing classes as they work to reduce debt and build-up their savings. Since 2008, three Operation Homefront Village locations, one in San Antonio, San Diego and Gaithersburg, MD have housed more than 500 military families and defrayed nearly $5.2 million in rent and utility costs.
Homes on the Homefront
Derek enlisted in the Army as a Ranger following his high school graduation. He was part of the direct action raids for the Joint Special Operations Command and deployed twice to Iraq before being medically retired in 2006.
After he left the Army, Derek wanted to give his wife and four children a home. Initially, the family lived in a fifth wheel camper to save money to buy some land and build a home. The birth of a fifth child created a situation where the camper living was not suitable for the family any longer.
Derek applied for a home through Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront (HOTH) program. The Homes on the Homefront program awards mortgage-free homes to military families who otherwise would not realize the American dream of home ownership.
Derek, his wife, and five children were awarded a home in Wyoming which has allowed the family to put down roots for the first time and start “their new beginning.” Operation Homefront has placed nearly 600 military families in HOTH homes and deeded over $60 million in home equity to military and veteran families.
Through these programs and several others, Operation Homefront is committed to building strong, stable, and secure military families, so they can thrive – not just get by – in the communities they worked so hard to protect. 92% of Operation Homefront’s expenditures go directly to program delivery for military families and it has been recognized for superior performance, receiving a four-star rating from Charity Navigator for ten consecutive years. If you know a military family who needs help, or if you’d like to support our military by volunteering or making a contribution, you can learn more at OperationHomefront.org.
By Vickie Starr