May 2012: Founded
September 2012: Donation to Give An Hour
Give An Hour provides free and anonymous mental health care to active duty, veterans, and family members of those who served in the Afghan and Iraq wars. We are especially happy to support this organization because suicide is a massive problem in the military. Did you know that more soldiers have died due to suicide than in combat related deaths?
There are a few key components that make Give An Hour services so valuable.
1) Anonymous. Many soldiers are afraid of the stigma of seeking counseling and many with special clearances worry that if they seek counseling, they could lose their security clearances. Even though the military is striving to change this perception, it’s still common, so having an option for anonymous care is very important.
2) Help for the families. Everyone is impacted when a family member is struggling, and it’s important that spouses and other relatives know how to help and cope with the unique challenges that come from military service.
3) Free. The military does not have enough mental health professionals to meet the current demand, so many soldiers face long backlogs and inconsistent care due to too few counselors and too many soldiers.
December 2012: Donation to Active Heroes
In most cases, military pay is adequate to support service men and women. However, there still are veterans and their families which find themselves in financial distress as a result of circumstances beyond their control. Many veterans return home with physical and mental injuries, which often lead to soaring medical bills and associated costs not covered by their insurance.
Active Heroes helps military families and assists veterans and active duty members by providing financial assistance (such as mortgage, car payments, electricity bills, water bills or security deposits) and job placement services.
March 2013: Donation to Women Veterans Support Services
Women’s Veterans Support Services provides immediate assistance for women in crisis situations with short-term needs like shelter, food, and clothing. Then they get the woman connected to the VA for the support and services she’s entitled to while strategizing for long-term solutions to the woman veteran’s problems.
June 2013: Donation to Fisher House Foundation
The Fisher House Foundation helps families be close to their veteran or military member who has an illness, injury or disease and is being treated at a military or VA facility. Fisher House homes are located on military bases throughout the world and provide free lodging to the member’s family. In 2011 the served over 17,000 families. The average length of stay at a Fisher House is 10 days unless it’s a combat casualty and then it’s 45-60 days. They’ve saved families more than $25 million in lodging costs, including food and transportation.
September 2013: Donation to Operation Homefront and Service Women’s Action Network
Sometimes we can’t choose just one, and that was the case this month.
Operation Homefront assists military families during difficult financial times by providing food assistance, auto and home repair, vision care, travel and transportation, moving assistance, essential home items, and financial assistance.
The Service Women’s Action Network has been a critical voice for women advocating for political, legal, and policy changes that will secure equal opportunity and freedom to serve without discrimination, harassment or assault; and to reform veterans’ services to ensure high quality health care and benefits for women veterans and their families.
December 2013: Our Military Kids and Homes for Our Troops
Another month where we couldn’t choose just one!
Our Military Kids provides grants to children of National Guard, Reserve, and Active Duty Wounded Warrior service members to participate in extra-curricular activities which significantly reduce the stress of having a deployed parent.
Homes for Our Troops provides newly constructed, specially-adapted homes designed for maximum freedom of movement and the ability to live more independently at no cost to the severely wounded Veterans they serve.
March 2014: Dogs on Deployment
As pet lovers, we know how important our furry friends are in our lives, and so we were excited to support Dogs on Deployment. They help military members find people willing to care for their pets when they are deployed or on training missions. Plus, they provide financial assistance to help active duty and veterans with veterinary expenses.
June 2014: The Mission Continues
This is an exciting charity doing life changing work. The Mission Continues helps veterans find meaning and purpose by redeploying them to work with non-profits in their communities or in crises around the country, so that their shared legacy will be one of action and service. The opportunity to volunteer at great charities in their communities changes the life of the veteran and improves the community. Win, win!
September 2014: Bridging the Gap & On Behalf Of
Bridging the Gapruns residential centers in Georgia and provides food, shelter, education, counseling and more to homeless veterans.
On Behalf Of provides both cash and services to combat injured and grieving military families. Then, they rally the “ScoreForce” to take things a step further: ScoreForce proactively contacts local businesses in the veteran’s hometown that might be able to help with money, a service or product that could bring some relief.
December 2014: Swords to Plowshares
Swords to Plowshares provides veterans in the San Fransisco Bay Area with employment and training, legal services, health care, and housing. Swords to Plowshares’ mission is to heal the wounds, to restore dignity, hope, and self-sufficiency to all veterans in need, and to prevent and end homelessness and poverty among veterans.
March 2015: Horse Rhythm Foundation
Horse Rhythm Foundation helps veterans and first responders heal from physical or emotional trauma (including PTSD and Military Sexual Trauma) through Equine Assisted Psychotherapy (EAP), Equine Assisted Learning (EAL), Equine Driving Facilitated Learning (EDFL), and Therapeutic Riding.
Last year, 350 men and women went through their program. You can read some of their testimonials here: http://www.horserhythm.org/what-people-are-saying-about-hrf/
They are in the midst of an exciting research project that involves doing brain maps of participants before, during, and after horse therapy. This research will allow them to put science behind what they do. If spending time with horses is not just a warm and fuzzy effort but has real, measurable impact, then it is easier for insurance companies and the VA to pay for the treatment. Their medical director is from Mayo Clinic and they have multiple persons with medical backgrounds on their board, so their study has been carefully designed to meet the accepted scientific study requirements. This means that the research will be accepted by the scientific community and can be used by other organizations doing similar work.
I am very excited to learn about the results of this study. If it turns out that this type of work does not help veterans recover, then we need to know that so we can direct our donations to the programs that do work!
June 2015: Operation Veterans Encouraging Recovery (O.V.E.R.)
O.V.E.R.’s will be providing immediate housing for up to 5 veterans at a time who are in crisis or transition. In addition, they provide community outreach to educate veterans about services available through local agencies and veterans programs, advocate on issues affecting homeless veterans and the nonprofit organizations providing services to them, provide short-term employment for veterans receiving services and matches veterans with employers, and offer no-interest microloans and a platform for small business ventures at their outreach center.
September 2015: Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund
The Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund is helping military personnel suffering the effects of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and psychological health (PH) conditions by constructing a series of facilities, called “Intrepid Spirit” centers, in which these injuries can be diagnosed and treated.
Once each center is completed it is turned over to the local military base for operation, and from that point forward the military pays the costs for operating the center, including staffing, equipment and maintenance. The Fund does not provide any further contributions toward those centers. All money collected by the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund goes toward building future centers. 9 centers were planned. 5 are completed and the final 4 are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2016.
December 2015: Grace After Fire
Located in Texas, Grace After Fire’s main program, Table Talk, serves as a peer support system designed specifically for women Veterans. It focuses on gender specific aspects through structured interaction with trained facilitators and fellow peers while identifying and addressing barriers women Veterans face on the path to positive change. The program consists of seven cycles covering topics on Grief & Loss, Mood Disorders, Self-Esteem, and Emotional Intelligence. Facilitators undergo an application screening process; receive classroom and online training, and annual recertification.
They’ve served 1,000 women, hosted 200 veterans at retreats, driven 48,000 miles, and gave 300 media interviews. Grace after Fire was present at over 700 community outreach events and distributed over 2,850 pieces of literature in designated territories.
March 2016: Operation Song
Located in Nashville, TN, Operation Song pairs professional songwriters with veterans, active military and their families to help them tell their stories through song. They hold weekly workshops in Tennessee and sponsor events and group retreats at the local VA hospital, Fort Campbell, and throughout the U.S. No musical background is needed in to participate, and the program is enthusiastically embraced by the local VA and the participating veterans.
Listen to some of the songs they’ve created here: http://www.operationsong.org/veteran-songs.html
And listen to veterans talk about their experience in the program: http://www.tennessean.com/story/entertainment/music/2015/05/24/vets-songwriters-find-new-mission-operation-song/27894183/
June 2016: Farmers Veteran Coalition
Farmers Veteran Coalition is located in Davis, CA. They help veterans across the country develops viable employment and meaningful careers through the collaboration of the farming and military communities to create a new generation of farmers and food leaders.
They have 3 main initiatives. 1. The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund provides direct assistance to veterans in their beginning years of farming or ranching. The Fund does not give money directly to the veteran, but rather to a third party vendor for any items that make a critical difference in the launch of a young farm business. Since it began in April, 2011, the Fund has provided more than $800,000 to 150 fellows in more than 35 states.
2. Their business resources help veterans get started, learn how to find land, finance their farm, create a business plan, build a legal plan, develop a marketing strategy, design a crop plan, comply with food safety regulations, and understand farm organizations.
3. Their Homegrown By Heroes (HBH) is the official farmer veteran branding program of America. The HBH logo serves to inform consumers that products donning the logo were produced by military veterans. The program is available to farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and value-added producers of all branches and eras of military service.
September 2016: DAV’s Louisiana Headquarters
In August 2016, prolonged rainfall in southern parts of the U.S. state of Louisiana resulted in catastrophic flooding that submerged thousands of houses and businesses. With an estimated 146,000 homes damaged in the flooding—characterized as the worst US natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy in 2012—thousands of Louisianians were forced into shelters, with more than 11,000 in state-operated shelters.
Founded in 1920, Disabled American Veterans (DAV) provides more than 700,000 rides for veterans attending medical appointments and assists veterans with more than 300,000 benefit claims each year. DAV is a membership charity. That means that there is a large national organization that acts as an umbrella for 1,300 local chapters and 1.3 million members across the country.
One of our members wanted to find a way to help veterans impacted by the flooding, so we are giving directly to DAV’s Louisiana state headquarters. Our donation will provide 2 grants to Louisiana veterans whose homes were flooded.
December 2016: Puppies Behind Bars
Puppies Behind Bars trains prison inmates to raise service dogs for wounded war veterans and explosive detection canines for law enforcement. Puppies enter prison at the age of eight weeks and live with their inmate puppy-raisers for approximately 24 months. As the puppies mature into well-loved, well-behaved dogs, their raisers learn what it means to contribute to society rather than take from it.
They currently have 50 dogs in formal training. 8 of those are Explosive Detection Dogs. Since founding, they’ve trained 137 service dogs, 430 explosive detection dogs, 12 companion dogs for children, 2 therapy dogs, and 84 guide dogs.
March 2017: Bridging the Gap Georgia
We donated to support Bridging the Gap’sPhase 3 Recovery residence which provides food, shelter, and other assistance to veterans who are graduating from addiction recovery programs until they are ready to live independently.
June 2017: Grace After Fire
Grace After Fire helps women veterans transition back into family life, achieve success in the workplace, and be successful in her pursuit of happiness through their Table Talk peer group, employment services, mental health resources, and veteran retreats.
In 2016, they engaged 3,321 women veterans via phone call, email, event connection, or marketing literature. Facilitated 245 Table Talk Color me Camo peer groups which were attended by 704 different woman. Served 143 dependents/family members. Connected 64 women with employment resources or employer. Connected 58 women veterans with mental health resource or treatment. They held 2 Veteran Retreats that impacted more than 45 families.
September 2017: Team Rubicon
Team Rubicon is an international non‐profit disaster response organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy disaster response teams, free of charge to communities affected by disasters across the country. Team Rubicon can work under the direction of a governmental entity or agency (based on requested function) and integrate fully into an existing Incident Command System structure to perform disaster response functions.
Through continued service, Team Rubicon seeks to provide veterans with three things they lose after leaving the military: a purpose, gained through disaster relief; community, built by serving with others; and self-worth, from recognizing the impact one individual can make. Coupled with leadership development and other opportunities, Team Rubicon looks to help veterans transition from military to civilian life. 33,000 veterans have joined as members of Team Rubicon. Of those, 47% reported learning and developing new skills since joining TR; 32% have leveraged the skills learned in TR for current or new employment opportunities; and 87% would help a fellow TR member in need under most circumstances.
In 2016, they responded to 38 national or international disasters. They sent 6 flood water rescue teams and 89 volunteers to Texas when Hurricane Harvey hit and helped rescue 73 people and 43 pets. Team Rubicon will begin mobilizing volunteers to Rockport, TX, where over 1,500 homes sustained damaged from Harvey. Since they have had an influx of volunteer and financial support, they are identifying additional areas of operation and a long-term recovery phase.
In the case of Puerto Rico, they have deployed a recon team and a medical team. They are actively evaluating how they can be of best assistance without adding to the chaos that is currently happening on the ground.
December 2017: War Horses for Heroes
WarHorses for Heroes provides equine-assisted therapy to veterans who have sustained service-related mental or physical injuries.
As a therapy partner for those with mental illness, a horse is intuitive and non-judgmental, providing a trusting and open environment for processing and healing. Working towards measurable and achievable goals in a lesson program provides a sense of purpose and accomplishment, and helping other veterans and working alongside them allows veterans to experience different roles and build new relationships. Veterans with histories of depression or PTSD who participate in equine assisted therapy experience consistent improvement in depression symptoms and increased sociability.
Veterans with physical injuries also benefit. Horseback riding benefits the rehabilitation process because the rhythm of a horse’s gait is similar to that of a human’s. It provides the sensation of movement to those with severe injuries affecting mobility. Veterans with spinal cord injuries or other physical disabilities experience improved muscle strength and better balance after participating in equine assisted therapy programs.
SSG Travis Mills Foundation
Veteran families who have been injured in active duty or as a result of their service to our nation receive an all-inclusive, all-expenses paid, barrier-free vacation in Maine with the SSG Travis Mills Foundation where they participate in adaptive activities, bond with other veteran families, and enjoy much-needed rest and relaxation in Maine’s outdoors.
Located on 17 acres, they have a fully handicap accessible 11,000 square foot facility. In 2017, they hosted 84 veteran families over 11 weeks that were able to participate in adaptive sports and activities. Those activities included: Yoga, Archery, Kayaking, Canoeing, Boating, Fly Fishing, Bass Fishing, Guided Fishing Trips, Pottery, Painting, Culinary Arts (Cooking Courses, Baking), Guest Chefs, Martial Arts (Self Defense), Challenge Ropes Course, Cycling, Horseback Riding, Shooting Sports, Hiking, Golfing, Massage therapy.