Torrey’s Top 10 Recommended Veteran Nonprofits

 

Over the years, I have come in contact with nonprofits who go above and beyond the call of duty to assist OEF/OIF (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom) wounded veterans and their families in their road to recovery.  I have composed a list of my top 10 recommendations in no particular order. 

If you are an Iraq/Afghanistan veteran in need of assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact them and tell them that I sent you.  If you have received assistance through these programs, please comment below and share your experiences with others.  Your feedback is appreciated!

If you would like to provide support for these organizations, be assured that your tax-deductible donations will be put to good use.  You will see why I recommend each one in my notes below.  Donors need to use due diligence when choosing reputable nonprofits, as many programs are scamming you for your hard-earned dollars and/or not helping veterans as much as you may think.  If ever in doubt, visit www.guidestar.org to research any nonprofit you choose to support.

You do not need to donate money to support these programs!  You can visit their website to learn about volunteer opportunities.  It won’t take much on your part to make a world of difference for a wounded hero and his/her family.

NOTE TO PAST, PRESENT and FUTURE SUPPORTERS:  I also encourage you to do business with the sponsors of each of these organizations, as listed on each of their websites.  Your everyday purchases will further their support and not cost you anything extra.  In many cases, you may even find a discount or benefit, such as one example found via  the partnership of Spark Energy and Helping a Hero.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

Your recognition of each of these programs is greatly appreciated in more ways than one.  God bless you all…

Name of Organization: Type of Assistance provided: Website:
Challenge America Resource Directory/Resource Coordination http://challengeamerica.com/
Challenge Aspen Adaptive Sports http://www.challengeaspen.org/
Helping a Hero Adaptive Housing http://www.helpingahero.org/
Operation First Response Emergency Financial http://operationfirstresponse.org/
Operation Second Chance Emergency Financial http://operationsecondchance.org/
Impact a Hero Emotional and Financial http://impactahero.org/
Operation Recover Retreats and Resources http://oprecov.org/
Operation Homefront Emergency Financial http://www.operationhomefront.net/
Disabled Sports, USA Adaptive Sports http://dsusa.org/
Team River Runner Adaptive Sports http://teamriverrunner.org/

Torrey’s Notes and Disclosures:

Challenge America:  I have been serving on the Challenge America Leadership team since their inception in 2009 because I believe in this program, their mission and the people within it.  My family and I have also served as panelists for this program during Operation Yellow Ribbon at Lipscomb University.  I am not a paid spokesperson so I receive no direct benefit from your donations.  Their dedication to American veterans and their families are evident through programs such as Operation Yellow Ribbon, along with partnerships with DailyStrength.org and ShareCare.com.  Their resource directory will list resources only after they have been vetted, which is the first I’ve seen done on any resource directory.  They’ve got their priorities, and their hearts, in all the right places.  You can watch a video about their program, hosted by Charlie Daniels, Gretchen Wilson, Kix Brooks and Amy Grant by following this link:  http://www.hulu.com/watch/210237/challenge-america

Challenge Aspen:  I first came into contact with Challenge Aspen while my husband was a patient at Walter Reed in 2005.  Their Colorado-based program specializes in adaptive sports therapy and focuses on one’s abilities, not the disability.  They have programs for both male and female veterans and their families all year long.  They taught my husband that life was not over, it was just beginning!  They are the reason why we chose to move to Colorado:  to further my husband’s recovery.  We have participated in multiple programs, both winter and summer, and actively work with them to refer veterans in need so they, too, can benefit as much as we have from this program.  I am not paid by Challenge Aspen for the collaborative work I provide to help their program reach out to more veterans.  Organizations like Sopris Therapy Services in Carbondale, CO contribute their services during the Horses for Heroes program, our favorite session of the year!  You can read more about what Challenge Aspen has done for our family and others by reading this article:  A Healing Adventure, Aspen Style

Helping a Hero:  I first met Meredith Iler, the founder and Chairman of the Board of Helping a Hero, during Operation Yellow Ribbon in 2009.  When you Google Meredith, you’ll find a picture of Wonder Woman.  (I am not kidding!)  She and her dedicated board of directors receive no pay for their work, a testament of their dedication to their heroes and donors.  Since we’ve met, I’ve referred a veteran/family of six to her program to receive a home they desperately needed and help them integrate into a supportive community.  In doing so, Meredith identified our own family having unmet needs and immediately went to work in addressing them.  We attended the Helping a Hero Gala as honored guests and recipients of their program and spoke at Six Flags Great America during the Spark Energy Helping a Hero day on September 17, 2011.  We are honored that this program would give back to so many families in meaningful and tangible ways.

Operation First Response:  This was the very first program to reach out to Dan and our family when we were living at the Mologne House (hotel) at Walter Reed.  Five to a tiny hotel room with two double beds and no kitchenette, we were washing our clothes in the bathtub and eating two meals a day because we could not afford the basics.  Peggy Baker, an ANGEL in my mind, found me sobbing in the corner because I just couldn’t deal with the stress of our situation that particular day.  They are responsible for providing the money we needed to get our marriage license and remarry at the courthouse.  Later, in 2009, they helped us transition in our move to Colorado.  I have since referred many veterans to their program and they are always willing to help.  I owe them so many thanks!  They literally changed our future with one small gesture of support. 

Operation Second Chance:  This is another of the “first” programs that were formed early in the war and have been consistently delivering support for about seven years.  I met Cindy McGrew, the OSC founder, while she was toting bags and bags of canned goods, supplies and items to provide comfort through the Malogne House.  The contents of the bags weighed more than she did!  In 2005 her program chose our family to sponsor as “Secret Santa” to provide Christmas for our family.  We had no means of our own at that time, and they created memories for us that we will never forgot.  They have also helped us transition in our move to Colorado and have gladly helped dozens of veterans that I have referred to their program.  They are truly making a difference every day!

Impact a Hero:  My husband met Dick Lynch while we were at Walter Reed and spoke fondly of him as a mentor and source of emotional support.  Dick never forgot about Dan, even after he left Walter Reed and kept in touch with him.  It wasn’t until 2009 at Operation Yellow Ribbon that I finally got to meet Dick and give him a hug to say, “Thank you” in return.  His program helped our family transition in our move to Colorado and continues to help high-risk veterans that we’ve identified and referred to their program. 

Operation Recover:  This is a newer organization that is doing great things by providing resources and retreats to veterans and their families.  Wendy Walker, a hero in my book and the founder of Operation Recover, has a dedication unmatched by anyone I know.  Her understanding of TBI and PTSD is very in-depth, and her program works tirelessly to reach out to high-risk cases with extremely positive outcomes.  I highly recommend anyone to this program!

Operation Homefront:  Operation Homefront is a large organization that serves the entire nation.  They are responsible for placing a homeless family that I referred into transitional housing and have helped us in our transition to Colorado.  With chapters in every state, their assistance is only a phone call or email away.

Disabled Sports, USA:  This is the parent organization for many adaptive sports programs, founded long before the war began.  They provide opportunities through their program and for smaller programs to offer adaptive sports therapy on many levels.  Thanks to this program, either directly or indirectly, they have given Dan and our family the chance to “live” again through activities such as water skiing, whitewater paddling, snow skiing and many other forms of therapy.  I highly recommend sports therapy to anyone with a disability.  This program makes it possible.

Team River Runner:  Joe Mornini is, in our opinion, a saint.  A school teacher by trade, he formed Team River Runner at the first influx of combat wounded coming in to Walter Reed.  Dan was one of the first Team River Runner paddlers to join the program and now 7 years later we are all one large family!  Dan has since started his Class 3 water rescue certification and their program now spans the nation in VA centers everywhere.

Please note that there are WAY more than ten nonprofits that I recommend, so not seeing a nonprofit on this list does not constitute a lack of endorsement from me.  You can look at my sidebar for additional mentions of nonprofits that are doing great things for veterans.  Examples include www.veteranaid.org, www.avbi.org, and resource sites such as www.vawatchdogtoday.comIf ever in doubt, feel free to comment below to ask about my experiences (both good and bad) with other organizations!

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Comments

  1. Marla Hughes says

    I started to suggest Cleaning for Heroes but just in case I didn’t remember their exact website, Googled them. 2 links down was your article on the organization. :-)

    Cleaning for a Reason isn’t for veterans, but women with cancer. Sometimes the two live in the same household, so I thought you might know of a need for the link. If you know anyone suffering with the treatments along with trying to maintain a household, send them on. Debbie Sardone is one of my favorite people in the world.

  2. says

    Greetings, Aside from being the guardian of severly injured iraq war soldier. I am also a paralegal working for Manhanttan Legal Services of New York City. Our mission to assist indigent clients with legal assistance. We have numerous civil legal units including housing, government benefits, immigration, family, consumer and a vast of other services. This year we were awarded funding to assist veterans and their families with civil legal issues. We are also a non profit agency and have other office in other borought as well as many referrals to other agencies.

    Our office would like to extend our services to all veterans and service members who are in need of FREE Legal Services. Please contact me for further information and program description. I can be reached at 646-442-3174 office, 347-582-4445 cell.

    thank you for your attention, and we look forward to sharing our services with those who served.

    Maria Valentin

    • says

      Thank you for reaching out and for all you do, Maria!

      If any readers use the services that Maria shared here, I’d love to hear your feedback on how their program worked for you.

      Blessings,
      Torrey

  3. Shelly says

    How can an ordinary person volunteer for the respective programs of these nonprofits? Is there a certain requirement like skill?

    • says

      Just follow the links provided to any of the programs you may be interested in, go to their contact page, then ask. :) I know that nonprofits are really hurting for volunteers on a continuous basis. Even if the nonprofit is not in your local area, chances are they have things you can do from your own home or via the internet. Thanks!

  4. Brenda W. Scott says

    I’m not really familiar among those but all I can say that this is really because your helping our veterans! Good job1

  5. Misty says

    I’ll be checking the links you so conveniently provided to see how I can help. I’ll also spread the word.

  6. says

    This is a nice move Torrey and I wish you all the best with this quest. I am pretty sure that many people will support this especially those who have experienced the same with the veterans. And the convenience that the people can do to lend their help is a great thing for this kind of program. :)

  7. Cheri says

    I just got in touch with one of the nonprofits you mentioned in this post. They’re very accommodating and that is nice. I hope that I’ll be able to do a lot for our veterans through this nonprofit.

  8. Lilibeth says

    I really enjoyed most of your posts and I’ll be looking forward to reading more. Thank you. Tons of useful posts and info on here. Thumbs up, thanks a lot.

  9. Allison says

    I came from a family of soldiers, so causes like these are very dear to me. I have already got myself involved in a nonprofit that helps veterans.

  10. Laurie says

    It is good to know that people are willing to go out of their way to help our heroes in need.
    I wish the more people will join the noble cause.

  11. Sarah says

    I came from a military family, and I find it good to know that there are people out there that are willing to help out veterans.

  12. Eric says

    It has been a while; I mean that Memorial has come and go. I do hope that you get to update this blog soon.

    • says

      Hi Eric,

      It feels so good to be missed. I am sorry you’ve had to wait. I’ll be posting very soon about what kept me ‘offline’. Stay tuned!

      Blessings,
      Torrey

  13. says

    Have you heard of a non profit Brave-Aid that is based in the state of Florida? They don’t respond to no emails and have no phone listed anywhere? Several veterans have tried emailing them without any response from this organization. Thanks.

Trackbacks

  1. […] (Torrey’s Note: Dan and I have been involved in this program since 2005. They are taking applications for their summer program and details are below. Please check it out and pass it on! They provide all transportation, lodging and program costs and offer this to veterans across the nation. Depending on which session you choose {year round program} you can also have your family involved as well. I highly recommend them – which is why they make my Top 10 List of Recommended Nonprofits!) […]

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may contain “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. It costs you nothing extra and helps keep this site running or helps a veteran family of my choice to relieve their burdens. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.