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Homefront Help

April 15, 2010

Homefront Help is SIGNAL Connections’ effort to support U.S. service members, veterans and their families. The column highlights programs that offer resources and assistance to the military community ranging from care packages to benefits and everything in between. In that same spirit, Homefront Help presents opportunities for readers to donate time, offer resources and send words of thanks to those who sacrifice for freedom. Programs that provide services are listed in red. Opportunities for the public to reach out to service members are listed in blue. Each program description includes a link to the organization's Web site, when available.

Soldiers to Scholars

Veterans still looking for a way to serve their country and community can find a solution in Soldiers to Scholars, and they can earn the money to obtain their degree at the same time. This organization matches veterans to act as mentors and role models with at-risk, inner-city children. The founder believes that the values of respect for oneself and others, teamwork, education and family these youths need are those that many who served in the armed forces exemplify.  

The program requires participants to volunteer 20 hours a month mentoring at-risk children in approved programs. In exchange, Soldiers to Scholars will pay up to 100 percent of veterans' tuition, books and supplies at a community college in the greater Orlando area or at the University of Central Florida. Participants must live in designated inner-city housing and they receive a housing stipend to defray costs. The program is particularly interested in recruiting African-American males who wish to become educators, but no one is excluded based on race or gender.

Specific criteria for eligibility, the application form and more information is available through the program Web site. 

JoeOnTheMove

Two active duty soldiers founded this organization in 2008 to solve a major problem for deployed troops—the cost of communicating with loved ones back home. To help resolve the issue, JoeOnTheMove provides calling cards to those serving their country overseas. Site visitors can purchase phone cards for specific troops, or they can make a donation and the organization will provide the resources to troops in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait. Cards are available in $10, $15, $25, $50 and $100 denominations that pay for two, three, six, 10 or 20 hours of calling time, respectively. The cost averages out to only 8 cents per minute. JoeOnTheMove's Web site highlights testimonials from people who have benefitted from the assistance and why it matters. On its "Volunteer" page, JoeOnTheMove encourages people to use Meetup.com to form groups that support troops in various ways.

The organization plans to roll out a new Web site soon on which troops will be able to take advantage of a Web phone they can use with the calling cards. The phone is currently in beta testing, so anyone who accesses the site can try it.

JoeOnTheMove also is working to establish a method to provide free Internet service to deployed military members. The organization is seeking corporate sponsors and other donations. More information is available online.

Operation Special Delivery

Operation Special Delivery connects trained volunteer doulas with pregnant women whose partners are deployed at the mothers' due dates or who have been severely injured or killed in combat. Doulas provide uninterrupted support to these women while they are in labor. Those eligible for the free help must be unable to afford a private doula and lack reliable and sufficient labor support from other sources. Doulas trained by CAPPA, DONA or ICEA are accepted by CAPPA, the organization running the program. Doulas with different certifications who want to volunteer can request that their certifier contact CAPPA to have the program evaluated for inclusion.

Application forms and instructions on how to apply to receive doula services or volunteer as a doula are available on the Web site. An FAQ section provides more detail about program participation. Operation Special Delivery also has an online store. All merchandise proceeds benefit the effort.

The SIGNAL Connectionsstaff encourages readers to take advantage of the programs mentioned in this column and to pass along the information. In addition, if you know of a program that is helping service personnel, please let us know about it. Submit that information to SIGNAL's news editor.