When we say that “the resources we need to make life better for our combat wounded are in the community”, it’s not just a theory; it’s a fact. Wounded Heroes of America is not a huge national foundation with millions of dollars sitting in an annuity collecting interest. It’s a regional foundation operating on a shoestring budget. And yet those we have had the privilege of helping have benefited from our association because of our collaboration with other groups and foundations that do similar work for our vets. It’s a matter of collaborating with like-minded resources. Disseminating information is key, and the best information often comes from the vets themselves. By creating a community of resources, we’ve been able to make some amazing things happen.
Here’s an example of how it works: We at Wounded Heroes of America have had the good fortune to have made friends with Harvey Jacobson, the president of California Financial Partners, who is friends with a wonderful gentleman named Ron Salisbury. Ron happens to be the owner of the El Cholo restaurants in Los Angeles, a very popular chain. For years, Ron has hosted WHOA each month at one of his restaurants. Between twenty and fifty vets and their family members attend these dinners, and we’re so fortunate for Ron’s generosity in helping us make such meetings possible.
These functions allow us to invite other groups to come and share information about what they’re doing, and about the resources that are available to vets. One such group is Furnishing Hope. Furnishing Hope has a connection with Living Spaces and helps veterans by donating brand new furniture to them—often furnishing their entire homes.
Abran and Janet recently purchased their first home, a modest 2-bedroom house, and it left them nearly broke. We put them in touch with Furnishing Hope, and they just got a home full of new furniture. They also received around six hundred dollars’ worth of donated paint from DURASEAL, a division of Sherman Williams.
On another occasion, at one of our monthly get-togethers, one of our vets spoke of a mortgage-free home he had just been awarded. He had been awarded this home by the Military Warriors Support Foundation in Texas, which was receiving foreclosed homes from large banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America. The foundation members, in turn, would clean up the homes and donate them to qualified combat wounded veterans. We immediately and strongly suggested that our group members apply for these homes. To date, twelve of our veterans have received mortgage-free homes.
Once we learned that the VA was offering caregivers a monthly income for tending to our wounded veterans, the news spread like wildfire. Many wives and significant others of vets, who often had to quit their jobs to look after their families, can now be compensated for taking care of their veterans. Many of our caregivers applied and now receive as much as two thousand dollars per month. You can imagine what a help that is to a family living at, or sometimes below, the poverty line. In this community, information is invaluable.
The Home Depot foundation has fixed homes for our vets. Progressive Insurance has donated like-new cars to our vets. Rotary club members have helped our vets. Americans can be very generous, and they love to assist our combat wounded; it’s simply a matter of knowing who’s doing what, and making the right connections. Several of our vets came to LA to participate in our annual golf tournament. They are Native American living on the Navajo reservation in Arizona. They were flown and returned by Veterans Airlift Command- an organization of private pilots who offer free air transportation to post 9/11 combat wounded vets.
We could not accomplish these things if not for our friends like Ron, who facilitate our ability to meet, break bread and laugh with our combat wounded vets and their families. As a smaller regional foundation, we don’t have the financial resources to pay for dinner once a month for fifty people. But because of our friends, we’ve been able to accomplish things for our vets we otherwise could not have done. We assist other foundations that are looking for vets in need of help, and we help vets who don’t have the resources to acquire things like cars and homes. We do these things all while making friends along the way. In addition to the financial assistance we provide and the fellowship we create, we connect people with veterans who need help. This is a formula that works, and it’s the only way that we, with our limited budget, can accomplish big things.
Today, Abran and Janet got their new home completely furnished by some very nice folks. I believe we’re all the better for it.
Thank you, America, for taking care of our most important citizens: our Combat Wounded Veterans.
By the way, there is nothing original in what we do; our formula can be replicated in any community in the nation-