Homefront Help

November 16, 2009

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.

Miles for Brian
Miles for Brian is an anomaly in the troop support arena. It has no cohesive organization and seeks to raise no money. Instead, the effort began as a group of people in locations across the globe running and then pooling their miles to help deployed Army Pfc. Brian Bale’s family “run” all the way to Kirkuk, Iraq—6,436 miles from their home in Illinois. The community of supporters, which includes people from 45 states, Iraq, Afghanistan, Canada, Norway, Germany and Egypt, already has smashed that distance, compiling a total of almost 105,000 miles to date. The outpouring of support resulted in a change from running for one soldier to running for all troops, and the new goal is to accumulate enough miles to equate running around the world. The idea is to demonstrate support for those deployed through the miles covered.

All this exercise started when Pfc. Bale deployed in January and his family set out to run the almost 6,500 miles before he returned from his time overseas. His mother now sends him the number of miles the family and the worldwide community has run, and he posts it near his bunk for the other soldiers to see. Anyone who wants to donate miles can use the online form. Other Web site offerings include a message from Pfc. Bale, a photo album, a blog, links to Army family support resources and contact information.

Operation Chefs Unite
All that running is bound to make a person hungry. Operation Chefs Unite aims to fill up military members traveling through the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta. The Greater Atlanta Chapter of the American Culinary Federation formed Operation Chefs Unite and partnered with the USO to provide meals to the troops to show support for what the warfighters do for the country. Chefs in the area who would like to have food picked up from their establishment can e-mail info@acfatlantachefs.org to be added to the calendar. More information about the program can be obtained by e-mailing coopscatering@aol.com.

Homeowners Assistance Program
The U.S. Defense Department is using $555 million in funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to temporarily expand the Homeowners Assistance Program (HAP). The program partially reimburses eligible military personnel, surviving spouses and federal civilian employees whose service to the country requires them to relocate and sell their primary residence at a loss. The program is not meant to reimburse 100 percent of the loss.

A priority order has been established for the help. First on the list are homeowners wounded, injured or made ill in the line of duty while deployed since September 11 who are relocating to further medical treatment. Second are surviving spouse homeowners relocating within two years after the death of their spouses. Third are those affected by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure round without the need to prove that a base closure announcement caused a local housing market decline. Fourth are service member homeowners receiving orders dated on or after February 1, 2006, through December 31, 2009, for a permanent change of station move.

Each general category has other specific eligibility requirements. Additional specifics, how to apply and information about where HAP is implemented are on the Web site.


The SIGNAL Connections staff 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.

The SIGNAL Connections staff has made every effort to verify the legitimacy of these programs and to include information accurate at the time of publication. Inclusion in this column does not constitute an endorsement by AFCEA International or SIGNAL Connections. 

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