Hope For The Warriors’ Holistic Approach to Aiding Veterans and Their Families
Fifteen years ago, Robin Kelleher felt an urgency to help her best friend when her husband returned home after being wounded while serving in Iraq.
Even though Kelleher’s husband was a Marine who had been deployed several times, she had never personally experienced the ordeal, hardship, and heartbreak a wounded service member and their family must endure.
She could not sit idly by.
That friend, Shannon Maxwell, and Kelleher combined forces to help forge the future for Shannon’s husband, Tim, and countless other wounded military members. What began as the effort of two Marines’ wives soon became Hope For The Warriors, which has served more than 36,000 service members and their families over the past 15 years.
Kelleher and Maxwell originally were looking for ways to find post-combat bedside care and support for wounded Marines coming back to Camp Lejeune in Jacksonville, NC.
The genesis of Hope For The Warriors was the realization that there was a gap in resources for every service member and military family in communities across the country. From that deficiency grew the belief that warriors can thrive with access to integrated services focused on individual and collective well-being.
Not only is the nonprofit providing these services to military members but to their family as well including spouses, children and caregivers. Hope For The Warriors recognizes that the entire military family serves and makes multiple sacrifices along the way. Spouses delay higher education due to many and unexpected moves, children can develop secondary PTSD from their warrior parent, and parents and spouses can become lifelong caregivers to their warriors due to injuries.
Today, Hope For The Warriors focuses on the six domains of well-being: physical wellness, emotional wellness, financial wellness, life roles, social support, and community connections. These six areas all intertwine in life; often if there are obstacles in one area, problems seep over into other areas.
For instance, a transitioning veteran reaches out for assistance with his/her rent perhaps because they are battling PTSD and have not been able to secure employment in the civilian world because it all feels overwhelming. A Hope For The Warriors social worker can help facilitate the immediate financial need through a stability grant. Next, the social worker can work to connect the veteran with mental health services to work through the PTSD. Finally, the social worker can introduce the veteran to the nonprofit’s Warrior’s Compass program, which melds veterans and military spouses to meaningful civilian careers through an exclusive job search platform and coaching.
“Paying a veteran’s rent one time isn’t going solve all of his or her problems. We are here to assist them with the root of the situation and get them on the path to independence again.”Robin Kelleher, President & CEO of Hope For The Warriors
“We understand that a veteran didn’t wake up one day and realize his or her rent or mortgage was behind,” said Kelleher. “We know how one thing can lead to another and another until you feel like your world is falling a part around you. Paying a veteran’s rent one time isn’t going solve all of his or her problems. We are here to assist them with the root of the situation and get them on the path to independence again.”
Even before the pandemic, the organization believed in the power of virtual services working collaboratively with community services across the country. Hope For The Warriors has had robust virtual programming for more than a decade and continues to build upon in an increasingly virtual world allowing the organization to support more military families.
“We understand that no service member, veteran, or military family is just alike or are always based in cities with supportive communities,” said Kelleher. “We also know that military family’s needs are always changing due to the landscape of the military. Therefore, we’ll always be an ever-evolving organization, shifting to assist where the needs are.”
Karen Lee is Vice President of Strategic Communications for Hope For The Warriors.
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About Hope For The Warriors
Founded in 2006, Hope For The Warriors is a national nonprofit dedicated to restoring a sense of self, family, and hope for post-9/11 veterans, service members, and military families. Since its inception, Hope For The Warriors has served over 36,000 through a variety of support programs focused on clinical health and wellness, sports and recreation, and transition. Hope For The Warriors® has received a 4-star rating from Charity Navigator for 10 consecutive years, an honor earned by only 3% of rated charities. For more information, visit hopeforthewarriors.org, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Support Hope For The Warriors by joining its Circle of Hope, making a recurring monthly contribution. For more information on Circle of Hope or to make a one-time donation, visit hopeforthewarriors.org/about/make-a-donation/.