Originally published by Denver Life Magazine in March 2012
Being a military family involves a lot of waiting. They must wait for deployment, wait for news and wait for a safe return. These alone are difficult situations; however there are other areas that involve waiting as well. A military family often has to wait for food, clothing, shelter and emotional support. It is a constant battle of the heart, mind and body that doesn’t always end well.
That is where Operation Homefront (OH) steps in. OH is an organization with a mission to provide services to military families. They offset the loss and departure of loved ones by meeting financial and household needs.
National OH began in February 2002, immediately after 9/11, to support families of deployed soldiers and thank the soldiers for their sacrifice in the name of freedom. The Colorado chapter began in November 2010 as a Volunteer Community Team, with Carol Ann Mountjoy as the first Colorado chapter president and Kevin Sullivan as the chairman of board members.
“I want Operation Homefront to be the go-to organization in assisting the military, says Sullivan.
OH of Colorado provides support such as food, rent, utilities, car repairs, fuel gift certificates, toys for children, daycare and inspirational conferences to support military families as they count down the days until their loved ones come home.
“This organization is not army based and not military based. It is about services for members and their families,” says Sullivan. With due diligence on good partnerships, Sullivan encourages participation for companies with a heart for volunteerism and the right services for those in need.
OH of Colorado’s corporate connections consist of a handful of carefully selected companies. Sullivan’s dream is to increase corporate sponsorship and involvement, while Mountjoy’s wish list of corporations to collaborate with includes those who can provide food assistance for the grueling day-today lives of military families.
Recently, Bravio LLC, a creative marketing solutions company based in Englewood, created the “Hero Bar,” which is a 2.5-ounce premium dark chocolate bar, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting military families specifically through OH.
“Another company OH has worked with at the national level is SG Blocks, who recycles shipping containers, then turns them into homes and RVs,” says Sullivan. “Wouldn’t it be cool to find the land and align corporate partnerships to build OH villages with corporate Colorado?”
In 2009, Project CHALENG, of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, documented that Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and part of Nevada have 3,279 homeless veterans. The corporate partnership with SG Blocks prevents further homelessness through the life-changing support of villages.
Currently, the majority of OH’s villages are located near military bases such as those in Colorado Springs and San Antonio. They are not camps where the military trains. They are permanent homes where those who served in the military can live rent-free until they gain financial stability.
OH’s Toy Giveaway is a yearly event, sponsored by Dollar Tree, with more than 20,000 toys given to military families with children. Last summer OH provided 540 backpacks filled with school supplies for their Back to School Brigade. In September 2011, OH unfurled the “world’s largest American flag” at the Iron Horse Park in Ft. Carson for their Freedom Walk and Run event, which involved more than 1,600 participants.
Although OH Colorado only has a small group of loyal supporters, it is already a nationally known organization. As for those who aren’t closely connected to the military, OH does not emphasize a uniform, but helps the nation and those who feel the impact of war firsthand.
“I know there’s a lot of people out there and some don’t know how to help because maybe they’ve never lived the military life or don’t know what it’s about,” says Mountjoy, “but if they have the ‘how do I help’ question, come to us.”
NEED ASSISTANCE? To apply for assistance through Operation Homefront, please visit http://www.operationhomefront.org/contactus.
HOW TO HELP For fundraising and volunteer opportunities, please visit http://www.operationhomefront.org/contactus
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