Local resident launches national mission

Local resident launches  national missionBy MIKE CASH, Operation Family Fund

Operation Family Fund has a simple mission: help the families of those U.S. servicemen and women and U.S. contractors who have been killed in combat or severely injured in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere in the U.S. during the war on terror. We support the care givers of our veterans by providing training in PTSD and Suicide and also support military installations with the training and education to our active duty for trauma training and family support efforts. We support many local and National organization that support Veterans, like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans and our local Ridgecrest Veterans Advisory Council.

We have six staff that are all volunteers. Every penny that comes to our organization goes out to the families of those who have paid the highest price of freedom.

Back in in March of 2002, I wanted to contribute $100 to help our injured military. I looked all over the internet and couldn’t find an organization to send my money to, so I started an organization that would support qualified families.

News of the organization spread. Through 2003 and 2004, donations rolled in at an increasing rate as people heard of Operation Family Fund, mostly by word of mouth. In its first year, Operation Family Fund made $20,000 in grants. In its second year – $150,000 and in the third year – $250,000. The fourth year saw $1,200,000 in grants made. Now the foundation has distributed more $4,000,000.

I have always known how potentially close all of us are to a first-hand experience with the cost of freedom. I had a son in the Air Force and a son-in-law in the Marine Corps.

The paperwork for an applicant family is minimal: proof of death or severe injury in U.S. service in the war on terror, evidence of family relationship and contact information for the military-service representative assigned to every such family.

Applications from the families of severely wounded servicemen and women are evaluated on the impact the injury has on the ability of the service member to earn an income.

Those who have been helped by our group are appreciative of the difference that an Operation Family Fund grant has made in their lives.

“The $5,000 grant has helped our family tremendously with the financial burden we have been put through over the past 12 to 18 months,” wrote Army Sergeant 1st Class Justin Kautz. Kautz lost a leg and suffered other very serious injuries from an improvised explosive device in Iraq in 2003.

We have helped with donations to China Lake, American Legion, Ridgecrest Veterans Advisory Council and the local Sea Cadets.

Anyone who wants to help Operation Family Fund is invited to visit the Fund’s website, operationfamily fund.org.

There are thousands of eligible people out there and even if we could reach them all, that’s still not enough, because ideally these would not be one-time grants. The problems these families have don’t go away overnight. The need is far greater than the funds available. It always will be.

Story First Published: 2019-11-08