Homefront Help

December 6, 2012
By Rita Boland

Ever wanted to be one of Santa's elves? Here's the perfect chance to try it out and help wounded warriors at the same time. Operation Covert Santa gathers the wish lists from recently injured troops and their families, removes all identifying information and asks volunteers to supply the presents. All the gifts are given and received anonymously. It isn't charity—it's the magic of Christmas.

Last year, more than 175 elves provided presents for 74 severely injured soldiers and their families. People who want to participate this year can help in several ways:

Donate cash by sending a check made out to the Aleethia Foundation at:

November 8, 2012
By Rita Boland

The National WWII Museum has launched the Thank You for My Freedom campaign to give the public a chance to share videos, photos and words of appreciation to support the nation’s veterans. Efforts center around the www.myveteransday.org website, where people can upload their messages and see what others have posted. Participants also can text THANKS to 51555 or send their messages to the museum’s Twitter and Facebook pages. The work leads up to the museum’s Veterans Day celebrations on November 10 and 11.

November 9, 2012

U.S. veterans—on the day our nation sets aside especially for you, we at SIGNAL want to say thank you for all you’ve done overseas and domestically to make life better for everyone who lives here. From fighting vicious enemies to rescuing people during natural disasters, you step up when others run. We appreciate the sacrifice of you and your families. Welcome home.


November 1, 2012
Rita Boland

Turns out that supporting the military just might be a laughing matter. Stand Up for Heroes is an evening of comedy and music during the New York Comedy Festival put on to build morale among and raise money for wounded warfighters, veterans and their families. The funds go to the Bob Woodruff Foundation, a nonprofit organization investing in national and community-based programs that connect members of the military community with help they need.

October 4, 2012
Rita Boland

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) remains one of the biggest causes of suffering for troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a Web resource to reach out to people who need help handling the affliction, calling on fellow veterans to lend support. On About Face, visitors can find all the expected basics, such as an explanation of the disorder, contact information for immediate help and links to more information. But the true value of the site is in its collections of videos featuring veterans talking about their struggles and offering words of encouragement to others.

October 11, 2012
Rita Boland

The nomination period is now open for the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation 2013 awards. Each year, the foundation honors Marines and civilians who have carried out exemplary work in advancing or preserving Marine Corps history, life, culture and work. Winners will be honored at a ceremony next April. They also will receive a $1,000 cash prize, a medallion and a commemorative brick along the Semper Fidelis Memorial Park pathway at the Marine Corps Heritage Center.

October 18, 2012
Rita Boland

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA—the decommissioned USS North Carolina—invites the public to an onboard Halloween bash on October 30, 2012. The fun includes sweet treats, a petting zoo, temporary tattoos, caricatures and a bounce house, not to mention a chance to celebrate the holiday within a piece of classic U.S. military history.

Located in Wilmington, North Carolina, the ship’s Halloween festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. and last until 8 p.m. The cost is $5 per person. Kids two years old or younger get in free.

August 23, 2012
By Rita Boland

This first WonWorld campaign is nothing if not ambitious. Honor our Heroes aims to raise $300 million for the military relief societies that provide direct assistance to military families. The organization further expects to create an ongoing revenue stream of up to $120 million for those groups. To raise all that money, WonWorld plans to sell 60 million armbands for $5 each. Relief funds and their corporate supporters will help sell the items, or people can order packs containing between two and 100 bands. Each military service has a band designed specifically for it.

August 16, 2012
By Rita Boland

MilitaryBenefitsReport.com is the brainchild of Wolfgang Ward, a combat veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart who got fed up trying to track down all the benefits available to him from different groups. So he decided to create a resource to help anyone in the military community, from spouses to wounded veterans, find the help they need in one place. Visitors to the site answer questions explaining their current status, then they receive an email with a secure password so they can download their free customized report.

August 9, 2012
By Rita Boland

Team Rubicon is an organization helping veterans help more people. It offers former troops who have a desire to continue serving others a chance to use their unique skill sets during disaster response scenarios. The veterans are teamed with medical personnel and deployed to areas worldwide that are experiencing crises. Response events can be reactive, responding to an immediate, devastating emergency, or proactive in areas with ongoing problems.

July 19, 2012
By Rita Boland

The Veterans Curation Program (VCP) is solving the mysteries of yesterday by addressing a problem of today. This U.S. Army Corps of Engineers effort seeks to hire veterans from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan-especially veterans with service-connected disabilities-to clean and repackage archeological items. The work helps resolve two issues: veterans' unemployment routinely is higher than the national average and government analysis suggests a backlog of up to 30 years on the artifact work.

June 21, 2012
By Rita Boland

SAIC is working hard to hire more injured veterans through its Wounded Warrior Hiring Initiative. The effort gives these veterans first crack at certain employment opportunities open in the company. Positions are located across the country in different disciplines. Jonathan Cisneros, the staffing assistant dedicated to the program, is a wounded warrior who works hard to find careers for his fellow veterans. When someone applies for one of the featured positions, he works with the hiring managers to find the right fit.

June 14, 2012
By Rita Boland

Through its America the Beautiful program, the National Park Service is offering free passes to military members and their dependents. The passes grant no-cost admission to federal recreation sites. Depending on how admission is charged at various facilities, the benefit allows pass owners and accompanying passengers in a single, noncommerical vehicle to enter the sites for free or for the pass owner and three persons age 16 and older to enter without paying a fee. No entry fee is charged for children under 15.

May 25, 2012
By Jonathan Cisneros

I always look forward to Memorial Day just for the fact that we get to celebrate those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country and not to mention, it always falls on my birthday or the day after. For those who have lost their lives and for the Wounded Warriors that now have long roads to recovery, we owe them the homage and the support they ultimately deserve. As we all get ready to bust out our grills, head to the pools and begin our shopping sprees, we should all take a moment and thank those who have given us the freedom to do these activities. Today I am greatly appreciative of the opportunity I have to help our Wounded Warriors and their families.

May 18, 2012
By Henry Kenyon

On a (very) hot recent Saturday in a suburb of Tampa, Florida, two soldiers put on their scuba gear and slipped below the water's surface to train for an upcoming journey to another country. Their plan is not to infiltrate hostile territory, recue a hostage nor capture an enemy. No, their goal is to swim under the ocean even though on land they navigate the terrain in wheelchairs.

May 17, 2012
By Rita Boland

Ahoy matey! Whether you're looking to explore the seas with the modern equivalents of peg legs and eye patches, or seeking to share your bounty with deserving warriors, Dive Pirates is the place for you. The foundation trains, equips and provides one dive trip out of the country for individuals with disabilities-including service members injured in the line of duty-through adaptive scuba diving. Volunteers serve as trainers and buddies in the program and donations pay for the cost of equipment and trips.

May 15, 2012
By Rachel Eisenhower

A new Android app from the U.S. Defense Department provides enjoyable activity suggestions to help service members returning from combat deployments improve their moods and overcome depression. Positive Activity Jackpot, developed by the National Center for Telehealth and Technology, taps into a type of behavioral therapy called "pleasant event scheduling." The app uses augmented reality and a smartphone's GPS to locate nearby pleasant activities and diversions. Making these daily plans can help a service member adjust to life at home after returning from a deployment with a structured daily schedule.

May 10, 2012
By Rita Boland

All right veterans, spruce up those résumés and get ready to search for jobs. America Wants You is a portion of CareerBuilder.com dedicated exclusively to helping veterans find employment. Former military members can search through the posted job listings to find a desirable position; thousands of available opportunities currently are posted. Media campaigns are in place to encourage employers and potential employees to take advantage of the offerings, creating a market that benefits all parties. As part of the campaign, celebrities have recorded video messages urging companies to hire veterans.

September 13, 2012
By Rita Boland

Hotels for Heroes offers free hotel rooms to wounded, injured and ill service members who are undergoing treatment at military or Veterans Affairs medical centers or who need to attend certain events. Administered by the Fisher House Foundation—an organization long known for providing accommodations and support to military families—the program provides its rooms through hotel-point donations from individuals. It's the perfect opportunity to combine point numbers too small for a free stay with donations from others. All requests for rooms received by Hotels for Heroes are vetted through authorized officials.

September 6, 2012
By Rita Boland

The U.S. Defense Department's Valor website pays homage to troops who have earned the country's highest decorations for bravery. Recipients of the Medal of Honor and each service's cross award are listed. The department is working on listing Silver Star honorees as well. Anyone unfamiliar with the various medals can read the descriptions of them to learn more. The site also provides links to each military branch's own awards Web page. Homefront Help also has a Facebook page where visitors can gather and share information.