The latest news about health care haggling, political infighting or celebrities ditching rehab may lead us to believe no one remembers the wars or sacrifices of servicemembers. A number of foundations and organizations, however, are dedicated to helping injured veterans and their families. For families in need of assistance and for those looking for a way to reach out to wounded servicemembers, here’s a short list of groups that don’t make the news often enough.
Veterans Moving Forward (vetsfwd.org): Supplies trained service dogs to veterans with all injuries of war, including amputees and those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The organization needs volunteer puppy trainers, as well as monetary donations.
Operation Ward 57 (operationward57.org): Named for the place known as the “amputee ward” at the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center, this organization now supports wounded servicemembers and their families at the new Walter Reed National Military Medical Center at Bethesda, Md., with an emphasis on improving morale in the hospital environment, advocacy and education.
The Mission Continues (missioncontinues.org): Awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans. The organization’s premise is that veterans can improve their lives if given opportunities to serve their communities, with ultimate goals of higher education and/or full employment. The Mission Continues brings veterans and civilians together for veteran-led service projects across the country in an effort to connect veterans to their communities and help civilians gain a better understanding of those in uniform.
The General’s Kids (thegeneralskids.org): Serves the children and young siblings of wounded veterans, some of whom have grown up in and around the hospital during a loved one’s extensive treatment and recovery. Founded by the wife of a wounded veteran with her own children in mind, this fledgling organization connects children with common experiences and provides care packages and encouragement to them.
The Gary Sinise Foundation (garysinesefoundation.org): Well-known as an actor, Gary Sinise is also the front man for the Lt. Dan Band, which travels extensively to entertain deployed troops and raise funds for various programs that help injured service members. The foundation website has an extensive list of organizations that help veterans. One of theses programs is Building for America’s Bravest.
Building for America’s Bravest (ourbravest.org): This program, which builds “smart homes” for the most catastrophically injured servicemembers, is a partnership between the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnels to Towers Foundation. Each home is custom designed and uses adaptive technology to address the unique needs of each individual.
Help Our Military Heroes (helpourmilitaryheroes.org): Dedicated to providing injured veterans with fully equipped handicapped vehicles, this organization works with each individual in need to modify a vehicle specific to his or her injuries.
Fisher House Foundation (fisherhouse.org): This charity is best known for its houses next door to major military and VA medical centers, where military families can stay to be near hospitalized loved ones. The foundation also has “Hero Miles,” which provides free airline tickets to military men and women who are undergoing treatment at a military or VA medical center incident to their service in Iraq or Afghanistan, and their families. Donors can give unused frequent flyer miles or funds.
Veterans Airlift Command (veteransairlift.org): Also provides free air transportation to wounded warriors, veterans and their families for medical and other compassionate purposes through a national network of volunteer aircraft owners and pilots.
Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org): Encompasses a collection of programs to help wounded veterans recover in mind and body, find meaningful work and successfully reintegrate into society. This organization also strives to connect injured service members to share common experiences and challenges.
Yellow Ribbon Fund (yellowribbonfund.org): Provides free rental cars, hotel room nights, housing and activities for injured service members and their families during treatment at Walter Reed in Maryland and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia.
Some of these resources and more can be found at The War of a Wounded Warrior Wife (adventuresofteamallen.blogspot.com) and Operation We Are Here (operationwearehere.com). Both lists compiled by fantastic military spouses.