Monday, January 30, 2012

Scholarships - Fall 2012

The Spouse/Caregiver Scholarship program identifies, recognizes, and rewards spouses/caregivers for their strength, fidelity, and resolve despite adversity. Scholarships aid in continued education at a reputable, accredited university, college, or trade school for spouses/caregivers as they assume critical roles in the financial well being of their families.

Scholarship awards are $5,000 and are made payable to the scholarship recipient's institution for payment of tuition, books and supplies.  Recipients may receive a scholarship award up to four years for a maximum of $20,000.   

In addition, we have one additional scholarship which was donated by Mr. Ivins "Itchy" Popkin--a member of our Board of Directors and the owner of Furniture Fair in Jacksonville, NC.  The Sidney Popkin Memorial Scholarship, in memory of his brother, will allow a fifth scholarship in the amount of $1,250.

Since 2006, close to 50 scholarships have been awarded to spouses and family members who have served our country by taking care of our wounded service members.  Applicants may use the scholarship in pursuit of a Bachelor's or Master's degree or vocational program.

For more information on the scholarship, eligibility requirements and more, visit the Scholarship Program web page. 

We encourage you to share this information with anyone you know who is the spouse or caregiver of a wounded service member or, the spouse of a fallen service member.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday's Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Elvis stands at attention for the Marines.
Photo courtesy of Paul Oberle

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Warm Home - A Wish Granted

Today we share another Wish that was granted to a veteran in upstate New York.  The story surrounding this soldier reminds us how much our service members and their families sacrifice for our country.  When a service member deploys, they leave behind their family, friends and entire life.  A reservist has even more change in their life.  They leave behind another job that many times provides a higher income than their military pay, leaving their family with yet another challenge.

Post 9/11, an Army Reservist was activated and deployed to Iraq.  During his deployment, he was injured in combat and sustained a severe head injury.  This soldier returned home and began the long process of rehabilitation.
As a reservist, this soldier also owned and operated his own business.  During the deployment and long recovery process, he suffered another loss when both his home and business were foreclosed.  Now, he was not only injured physically, but emotionally devastated from the financial impact on his family.
As he slowly recovered, he visited a friend’s farm.  To his surprise, working with the cattle and horses provided this veteran with some much needed healing.  (He is not the first veteran to discover the therapeutic benefits to Equine Therapy and working with animals.)

To continue his rehabilitation, the family purchased an old Amish property in upstate New York with the plan to turn the property into a cattle ranch.  However, the farm and farm house required additional work.

Siding work being completed
The Farmer-Veteran Coalition stepped forward to help fund the cattle business for the family.  However, it was beyond their mission to finance work that needed to be done to the farm house.  Winters in upstate New York are frigid and without proper siding, this veteran and his family would suffer throughout the season.
Hope For The Warriors® was contacted to assist this veteran and his family by paying for the siding to the old farm house.  Through our A Warrior’s Wish® program, we granted his Wish so that this family could be together in a warm home.
True to the values of our military members, this veteran has already started giving back to others.  He has invited local veterans in his area to the farm so they too can benefit from working with livestock. In the future, he plans to host an Equine Therapy program on his farm, helping veterans to overcome their visible and invisible wounds.
Hope For The Warriors® was proud to work in cooperation with three nonprofit organizations to grant this Wish and support this American hero.  We were greatly helped by Michael Banker, our project manager, and his organization, HONORS.  Of course, we have already mentioned the Farmer-Veteran Coalition who has helped this family build a productive farm.  Finally, the support for this Wish was provided by the Bob Woodruff Foundation. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hell and Back Again

Today, Hell and Back Again was nominated for an Oscar and Hope For The Warriors® congratulates Danfung Dennis, Mike Lerner, and their team for their remarkable portrayal of our combat wounded service members and their families. We applaud the efforts of Hell and Back Again and the awareness it continues to raise.

Hope For The Warriors® has been familiar with the Harrises for a few years – Nathan and Ashley are close to our “family.” In fact, Tina Atherall, our Executive VP, participated on the discussion panel for the film’s New York City premiere.

We’ve all walked out of the movie theater stunned and speechless. I have listened to combat stories, watched movies, and viewed pictures, but nothing compares to a genuine look at one Marine’s experiences abroad and home.

Through the lens of the director, I got a taste of Nathan Harris’ life. Hell and Back Again frames Nathan’s present day with images of his life in Afghanistan. These intermittent yet seamless flashbacks effortlessly depict PTSD and physical struggles.

Difficult to watch at times, Hell and Back Again intensely illustrates our service members' post-combat life. Furthermore, the film focuses on their wives’ new role as the caregiver. Nathan’s and Ashley’s relationship has changed. Tina’s input on the panel gave insight into the ongoing challenges faced by today’s military families. She drew attention to Ashley and to all military spouses for their “own bravery and heroism as the primary, full-time caregiver for returning service members.” This is all true. I am humbled constantly by our service members, their stories, their families. Hell and Back Again was no exception.

The documentary is now on sale and you can Donate 10% to Hope For The Warriors® when you purchase the documentary. At checkout, enter the code HFTW12 for a discount.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday's Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Honor given to the fallen during the New Jersey Run For The Fallen
Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Top 10 New Charities in 2012: Halogen TV

Halogen TV is "an empowering television network that entertains and motivates individuals looking to be the change they want to see in the world."

Hope For The Warriors® is excited to be on their list of "Top 10 Newer Charities of 2012."

We were chosen due to the strength of our programs and our fiscal responsibility.

Visit their website to learn more.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hope Lights the Way

The quality of this photo is low but the high school seniors in this photo are top notch!  Meet Brendan or "B" and his friend Coti.  The luminaries you see on the sides of the road are part of B's annual Christmas project to raise funds for Hope For The Warriors® and to honor wounded service members.

For the past three years, B has purchased paperbags, candles and sand.  Then he solicits donations within his neighborhood and prepares the luminaries along the way.  His neighbors love the lights but the real benefit to B is knowing that he is doing something to help those that have served and sacrificed for our country.

"Some years the donations are high and some years they are low, but to know that I have helped benefit the men and women who fight for this country; it is worth all of the work.  After the bags are lit each year, I reflect upon all I have in my life and am grateful."
This is not the first fundraiser that B has done.  In fourth grade, his father, a Marine, was deployed to Iraq.  At that time, one of the Marines who returned wounded was Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell, whose wife Shannon, was one of the founders of Hope For The Warriors®.  In response, B organized a lemonade stand to raise funds for the new nonprofit organization. 

Clipping from Local Newspaper

B's own father has since deployed four more times--so he knows first hand the service of the men and women in the military.  B has also visited Bethesda and Walter Reed medical centers with his mom, bringing gift bags and talking to the wounded as they focus on their recovery.

"Their attitude and will to heal is a great inspiration to me,  and their spirit is contagious and makes me believe I can do great things as well."
For his future, B hopes to attend Virginia Military Institute and become a military officer.  On the school's website, they state "Virginia Military Institute is distinctive in the world of higher education because of its mission to prepare educated, honorable, and steadfast leaders."  I hope that VMI sees in B what his parents, neighbors, teachers, and all of us at Hope For The Warriors® see--a young man who is already an honorable and steadfast leader.  Thank you B!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Showering our Veterans with Support - A Wish Granted

One of my favorite programs within Hope For The Warriors® is our A Warrior's Wish® program.  Through this program, we have the opportunity to support our service members, veterans and their families by granting a Wish. 

I love to read the Wish applications and imagine how granting this Wish will impact the service member's life.  Our website states:
A Warrior's Wish® supports the long-term goal of hope beyond recovery. These Wishes fulfill a desire for a better quality of life or support a quest for life-gratifying endeavors. Knowing that wishes can come true directly affects service members' spirits in addition to the families and communities that support them.

The Wish I share today has definitely improved the quality of life for one veteran and his wife.  By granting this Wish, we have saved this couple from a 45-minute drive, each way, for something as basic as taking a shower!

This month we completed a Wish for a couple in Missouri.  In 2004, he was deployed to Iraq with the Navy Seabees.  While our warrior stood on a ladder and performed a security sweep, his unit came under fire, causing him to plummet to the ground.  The fall resulted in severe head trauma and back injuries in additional to post-traumatic stress disorder.

He retired in August 2005 after more than 30 years of service and although he is able to walk with a cane, struggles with his mobility.  Their home had a bathtub/shower combination and he could not shower without assistance from his wife.  Even with her help, he suffered several falls.  This autumn, the couple decided that using the shower was too dangerous for him.  Three times per week, the couple would drive 45 minutes each way to the YMCA in the closest city to take a shower. 

Bathtub/shower that was unsafe for our warrior

The couple turned to Hope For The Warriors® with the Wish to have their bathroom renovated to include a safer shower. We very easily approved this Wish!

New safer shower that includes a handle bar

To read more Wish stories, visit our A Warrior'sWish® webpage.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon - Team Hope For The Warriors®

One of the many Team members competing on a handcycle.
Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle

Approximately 40,000 people are expected to take to the streets of Washington, DC on October 28, 2012 for the 37th Marine Corps Marathon, but only the special few will be running for a cause greater than themselves.

The Marine Corps Marathon does not open until March 7 and last year, the race sold out in 28 hours.

This race is one of the largest marathons in the world and one of the best organized.  If you are someone who supports our military families, this race is even more special.  It is a way to give back and honor those who have served and sacrificed.

And when you are part of Team Hope For The Warriors®, you will run alongside many of the wounded service members that the Team supports.  Our Team takes to the streets on foot, prosthetics and on handcycle--determined to be defined by their accomplishments, not their injuries.

As a member of Team Hope For The Warriors® you can personally and positively affect the lives of wounded service members and their families, just by doing what you love to do—running a great race!

To learn more, follow the link to the Marine Corps Marathon Team page. Each team member will be required to set a minimum goal of raising $575 for Hope for the Warriors®.  Many use the tools we provide to set and exceed a much higher goal. 

Want to learn more of have questions?  E-mail our Team Director Jenlene.

Team member at the 2011 MCM.  Photo provided courtesy of Paul Oberle

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday's Photo

A picture is worth a thousand words.

A wounded service member enjoys his golf game at the annual Scarlet & Gold Golf Tournament

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Ringing the NASDAQ Bell and Ringing in the New Year

On December 28, Hope For The Warriors® was given the honor of ringing the NASDAQ Stock Market closing bell, symbolizing the close of the trading floor. Hope For The Warriors® staff, board members, service members, and military families attended. 

And as if that was not exciting enough, as part of the event, the Hope For The Warriors® logo was displayed on the Times Square jumbo screen-a privilege that would normally come with a hefty price tag. The logo was displayed for an hour, during the busiest tourist week of the year.   

One of the service members who attended was wounded soldier Master Sgt. Kevin Walker, USA (Ret.).  Kevin and his family were in New York City as part of the Hope For The Warriors® Hope & Morale program. Kevin’s story is all too common, as he was injured in Iraq when his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. Since his injury, this Jefferson City, MO native and his family have overcome astounding trials and tribulations through his physical and emotional rehabilitation.

Kevin was given the honor of ringing the closing bell at the NASDAQ closing ceremony.  This was an amazing experience that he will never forget.  Read the News Story here.

A huge thank you goes to Christopher Page.  Chris is a Vice President at Citi Group and works as the Citi Military Programs Manager.  Chris is also on our Advisory Council and an avid volunteer and supporter of our organization.

Ringing In the New Year
On December 31, 2011, several families joined Hope For The Warriors® to ring in the New Year in Times Square.  For many, this was a once in a lifetime experience and we were proud to host these heroes and their families.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Year In Pictures - Jump into 2012

Photo Courtesy of Paul Oberle
And here we are in 2012!  To our military families, supporters, sponsors and volunteers, Hope For The Warriors® thanks you for your support and for your dedication to our nation's service members and their families.  In 2012, we will continue to work hard, ensuring that we meet our mission of "no sacrifice forgotten, nor need unmet."

Hope For The Warriors® staff members are energetic and highly-dedicated to each of our military families.  I feel fortunate that I work for an organization that makes family a priority--whether it is the military families we support or our own families. 

And as you can see from the photo above, we have a lot of fun working together.

Happy New Year to all!