Monday, November 25, 2013


Tuesday, December 3, Hope For The Warriors® will join thousands in recognizing #GivingTuesday, a national day for communities to come together and support nonprofit organizations.  #GivingTuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give. This effort harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners – charities, families, businesses, and individuals – to transform how people think about, talk about, and participate in the giving season.
Any donation to Hope For The Warriors® on #GivingTuesday will support programs within Clinical Support Services. Whether supporting a family in the early days post injury, or years later as they transition out of the military, we aid military families with both emergency assistance and long-term support and advocacy. 

“I was introduced to Hope For The Warriors® in their earliest days. I had noticed the above and beyond attention they gave my family and me then.  Now, years later, they still call and check on my family and they have never forgotten me.”  - Former Army Specialist
These programs are an essential cornerstone of Hope For The Warriors®, and provide a holistic, person-centered approach in addressing the physical, psychological, social, and environmental needs of the wounded warrior, their family and families of the fallen. 

Hope For The Warriors® goal is to restore self, family and hope to each service member and military family.   Donations on #GivingTuesday will help ensure that more families receive help. Hope For The Warriors® encourages you to share this with family and friends, so we can make this national day of giving a memorable one. 
We thank you for your kind donations, and your continued support.

Giving Thanks

Some of our favorite stories involve kids.  Today's blog was written by Stephen.  He shares how he showed his thanks and appreciation this Thanksgiving to the men and women in our military.

Hi my name is Stephen and I go to St Andrews Avellino's, a Catholic School in Flushing NY. I am in the process of going through my Confirmation and one of my requirements is to do 20 hours of community service. Well I asked my Mom if she thought I could do something for Hope For The Warriors as she has been involved in different events with them, and I know she enjoys giving back.  When she said yes I could do something, I asked my friends and family to create Thanksgiving cards for our military soldiers. I didn't ask anyone to write my words, but their words and thoughts they felt for our military folks who would not be home with their friends and family for the holiday.


I enjoyed making the cards and would like to make bracelets for Christmas as a small token of the sacrifices they and their family has made to protect our country, to protect us. I guess it comes naturally as my Mom, Dad and Brother were all in the New York City Police Department serving the City and putting their lives on the line to make sure people were safe.

Have a Healthy, Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving


Stephen's Mom helps

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Veterans Helping Veterans

Joe and Ryan, MSW interns at SIU

My name is Ryan McKennedy and I am currently a MSW (Masters in Social Work) student at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  I am an Afghanistan Veteran, serving in the Illinois Army National Guard, and currently a Hope For The Warriors® intern during my foundation year of my program.  SIU is the first school to partner with Hope For The Warriors® so it has been an awesome experience to help expand this partnership.  I first found out about Hope For The Warriors® when they visited campus last year. A year later and here I am interning for them.  I think this is an important partnership because we have nearly 700 Veterans here on campus.  Some of the programs Hope For The Warriors® have to offer can help Student Veterans be more successful in school.  Veterans come in a variety of personalities and backgrounds and many of us need help transitioning back to civilian life or through school.  I decided to pursue my MSW because I wanted to help other Veterans.  I missed the brotherhood of being active duty.  We all have each other’s backs and I wanted to extend that into civilian life.  I wanted to help other Veterans and found my calling once I discovered military social work. 

Southern Illinois University just recently established a military social work certificate program and that sparked my interest.  Ever since my deployment, I missed the environment.  I knew I wanted to help other Veterans in my career and the MSW program here at SIU was my ticket in.  I think this certificate program is important because the needs and intricacies of the military can be very complicated and hard to understand.  We sometimes hear Veterans saying that people who did not serve cannot understand them or do not know where they are coming from.  I wanted to be that person who did understand and knew I had to go into the mental health field.  The certificate program allows both civilians and prior service personnel to take classes on military culture and learn about the specific programs our nation’s Veterans face.  It is definitely necessary because we hear about all the problems Veterans face and it is going to take people that really understand what they are going through to help them.

During my time as an intern I have been able to help Veterans in a different capacity than being in uniform.  It is beneficial to be multidimensional and allows me to help more people than I ever thought I would.  I take it personal when a Veteran approaches me asking for help.  I have the same mindset as I did in the military when working for Hope For The Warriors®.  My time at Hope For The Warriors® has been very beneficial and has allowed me to learn more about the issues Veterans face and how to better serve them.  I hope to see the partnership between Hope For The Warriors® and SIU expand over the years and spread to other schools.  I am here to help.       

Monday, November 11, 2013

A Message to all Veterans

Written by Rob Cork,Operations Director, Hope For The Warriors®
As we approach Veterans Day I thought of my favorite moment in uniform. It was the day that I arrived home after I completed my service in the United States Army and was greeted by my Dad at the airport.
It’s a different Army today than it was in 1988 when I finished my three years of peace-time duty, and I am proud to be a veteran working with the military families served by Hope For The Warriors® and our incredible staff and volunteers. And as my Dad’s memories fade, mine are sharp and my uniform is still hanging proudly in my closet.

Happy Veterans Day to all of my fellow veterans, including my Dad. Thank you for your service.
Hope For The Warriors® is proud to both serve and employ Veterans and military families.  More than 70% of our staff has served the military--as a veteran or as the child or spouse of a service member.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ruck March in Honor of Veterans Day

My name is Ryan McKennedy and I am currently a Hope For The Warriors® intern at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. I am an Army Veteran and currently serving in the National Guard. I enlisted into the Army at 17 during high school and have been serving since. I was deployed to Afghanistan and spent 11 months in country. For me, it is really important to gain experience to support the veteran community through this internship because even though I served, there is much to learn. Every branch has their own culture, their own individual issues and concerns and there are so many sub-populations of people within the military. Helping people while wearing the uniform looks much different than when we are not wearing the uniform and that is what I am learning about now. 
There are many organizations out there that support the military community and I have had the pleasure to work and be a part of just a few. Here at SIU, we have a Student Veterans Organization which is a chapter of Student Veterans of America. Being a part of this student community was vital in my transition to college. On Veterans Day, I am embarking on a 24-mile ruck march from the Murphysboro Illinois VFW to the Marion Illinois VFW in attempt to raise money for the Student Veterans Organization. This money will be used for small emergency needs such as electric bills, social events, and assistance for students to attend the 2014 Student Veterans of America National Conference in Scottsdale Arizona. The Saluki Veterans Organization will be assisting me during this ruck march. Another organization called Team Red, White, & Blue will also be supporting this cause.

The cooperation between these different organizations has been absolutely amazing! They have all aided my transition in unique ways and fit different needs of different Veterans. These organizations can also be utilized at different stages of transition. A Veteran might need some help from Hope For The Warriors® in getting to college. SVA picks them up from there and then Team RWB helps them stay socially and physically active.
This ruck march, for me, is a way to remember all of those Veterans who have come before me and I will lead the way for Veterans after me. I keep close to my heart all of those brothers and sisters who lost their lives and who fought for their country. Organizations like Hope For The Warriors®, Team RWB, SVA, and many others allow Veterans just like me to find another mission after the military. Not sure where I would be without them.

More information about our office at SIU

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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Marine Corps Marathon: Running in Brandon's Honor

Today's blog is written by Anne, a member of Team Hope For The Warriors® who just completed the Marine Corps Marathon.  She shares why she joined the Team and what the marathon meant to her.
When I started running, I never thought that I would be a marathon finisher less than two years later. Training for and running a marathon has been one of the greatest times of my life and Hope For The Warriors® played a huge part in the experience.
In June of 2010 my cousin, Marine Sgt. Brandon Bury, was killed in Afghanistan while on his third combat deployment. His death came as a shock to our family who was blessed to see him for the last time just weeks before.
I became aware of Hope For The Warriors® the at the 2012 Kingwood Fallen Heroes Golf Tournament held in Brandon’s hometown of Kingwood, TX. I had started running and was training for a half-marathon. I remember going out on a training run from the hotel in Kingwood and on the same streets where Brandon grew up. From then on I have always seen Brandon as an inspiration for my running.
By the spring of 2013, I had run five half-marathons and it was time to take the step up to a full marathon. Running has been such a blessing in my life and I wanted to use it as a way to give back. I wanted to run in honor of Brandon. It had to be the Marine Corps Marathon and I had to use it as a way to help wounded service members and families of the fallen. After the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15th I decided to face my fears and I emailed Hope For The Warriors® just a few days later to inquire about running as a part of Team Hope For The Warriors®.  
For 18 weeks I trained through the summer in preparation for the race, motivated by the chance to use it as a way to bring awareness to the Hope For The Warriors® mission of restoring self, family and hope. People responded with overwhelming support of my running and my choice to fundraise for such a great charity. As a part of Team Hope For The Warriors®, I had access to tools and information that helped me become the top fundraiser for the event and that kept me motivated during my training. I made it to the start line of the Marine Corps Marathon with the feeling that this whole experience was truly more than a race.
Whenever I ran across another Team Hope For The Warriors® runner along the course it was awesome to share words of encouragement and a high-five. I had a Team member come from behind me saying he saw my jersey and he pushed until he caught up with me. Even though we hadn’t all met each other, let alone trained together, it truly felt like we were part of a team.
On October 27, 2013 I crossed the finish line at the Marine Corps Marathon at the Marine Corps War Memorial wearing a Team Hope For The Warriors® jersey and Brandon’s name pinned to my back.

During the race, a Marine also running stopped me and told me he knew Brandon and was there with him in Afghanistan the day he died. This was something so special and my family and I will cherish this connection forever. I was truly in the right place at the right time.
It was because of Team Hope For The Warriors® I had the opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon and experience all these great things. Long after crossing the finish line, I continue to be inspired by the events of that race day, my Hope For The Warriors® teammates, and the mission of restoring self, family, and hope to service members and their families.
Learn more about Hope For The Warriors® and our programs

Monday, November 4, 2013

An Opportunity to Give Back

Today's blog is from Vicki Lane, Regional Clinicial Social Worker.  Vicki shares with us today why she works for Hope For The Warriors®. 
I have been a military spouse for over 32 years and when I began my career as a clinical social worker I knew this was the population I wanted to serve.  The military community has given much to my family and me over the years—I wanted a way to give back.

Hope For The Warriors® has given me just such an opportunity.  Through my position as Regional Clinical Social Worker I feel I am able to meet the stated mission of Hope For The Warrior®:   to restore a sense of self, restore the family unit, and restore hope for our physically and psychologically wounded service men and women, veterans, and their families.  It is an honor and a privilege to help these men and women navigate their way through difficult financial and psychological issues, to help them learn new ways to solve and/or cope with these issues, to offer supportive counseling, and to lend an empathetic ear.  It never ceases to amaze me how much healing takes place by simply letting them know we care enough to listen—and truly hear what they have to share.

I also find it rewarding to work along-side and mentor our Master of Social Work (MSW) interns as they grow as social workers and learn about the very real and unique culture of the military.  Many of these MSW interns plan to continue working with the military after they graduate, and Hope offers them a rare and indispensable experience.

I feel blessed to be working for an organization with a staff that not only understands the importance of caring for our Nation’s wounded, ill, and injured—but makes that caring priority number one!