Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.

A local 501(c)3 non profit organization
Combined Federal Campaign # 23189

Operation Homefront-Florida Website

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Faces of Military Families: Being a parent during deployment

By Michael Baltz, OHFL Intern

Since 9/11, more than two million military members have deployed to the Middle East and more than 40% of them left a child at home. That means almost a million parents in the past 10 years had to step up and play both roles for their children during these deployments.

The following story was submitted by a U.S. Air Force spouse living in Florida as a part of the Hero Campaign and Rucksack Walk, Faces of Military Families Survey:

“Currently, my husband is deployed. So I have three little ones at home: ages 4,3 and 1. This is a challenge as simple everyday tasks (getting everyone dressed, cooking meals, going to the doctors) is all on mommy's shoulders. This is not our first deployment, but it has been the hardest.

“Without my husband here, I have to find ways to incorporate daddy into our everyday lives. We have a daddy kiss jar. Basically, it is full of Hershey kisses. The girls get one a day. Once all the kisses are gone, then daddy will be home. It is a challenge and there are days that I wonder how we all survived, but then I remember how difficult it is for him. He is far away, has little contact with us and is missing out on a lot of firsts. We recently learned he will be gone longer than initially projected.

“We are so proud of him though. And thankful that we have a husband/daddy that supports our country and us. We just can not wait for his return.”

During deployment, everything falls onto one person’s shoulders for an entire year or longer.  But while juggling the activities of daily life, military families also worry about their loved ones serving in harm’s way.

As the days of raising children become more and more challenging in this fast-paced world, it is even more of a challenge for military spouses who are left behind. The ones who have to step up to the plate, alone, and get the job done while worrying about their loved one at war. Not everyone is aware of this challenge with military families.

The 2011 Hero Campaign and Rucksack walk will raise funds to provide emergency assistance to Florida's military families and wounded warriors.  The campaign culminates with a rucksack walk in the Jacksonville Veterans Day Parade on 11-11-11 where we will walk together and symbolically support military families by carrying military rucksacks or backpacks.  Visit www.herocampaign2011.com to donate to the campaign, register for the Jacksonville walk, or host a walk in your city.  Raise funds as a team or individual.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Security First Insurance Supports OHFL

Operation Homefront-Florida received a generous donation from Security First Insurance Company. The Florida based insurance company is military friendly with extensive military ties dating back generations to present day.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Congratulations Father's Day Photo Contest Winners!

This Father's Day, Operation Homefront-Florida accepted nominations of pictures to salute military dads.  We were overwhelmed by the truly beautiful pictures posted.  We received many comments that people were moved to tears as they read the captions.  It was incredibly difficult to choose 3 winners because each submission was so special.  Thank you to everyone who submitted and thank you to all of the military dads for all you do. 
The 2011 winners are 
(in no particular order):
A Salute to the Military Father
My husband is the greatest father to my step son. I couldn't ask for anything more! This photo was taken moments before he deployed for 8 months. He is telling my son to take care of me. :) He is an amazing father for many reasons, but before me he was a single father to his son and provided him with the best dad any little boy could ask for!
"A Salute to my Military Father" This picture was taken just a few months ago the night when husband left for his 3rd deployment. My 3 year old daughter did not want to let go. I am blown away each day at how strong my beautiful baby girl has been. Every night she prays to God to keep her daddy safe and thanks God for giving her such a special daddy. I know she misses him dearly but realizes even at such a young age how important what her daddy is doing and how sometimes she has to share him. I never thought I would say this but its through her I gain strength. I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful husband and I couldn't have asked for a better father and role model for my child :)
A Salute to My Military Father, by Morgan Silvis age 8. My dad is special because when he is home he coaches my softball teams, volunteers at my school, and spends as much time with me as he can. He has to leave to go on deployment with the Navy but he calls and writes a lot so I can talk to him. This picture was taken of him and me when he was getting ready to leave. I got to watch him get on the plane and he signed " I Love You" a bunch of times. He reads to me on videos and always takes me to Build-A-Bear before he leaves to record a message in the bear to me. I cant wait until December when he gets home. He is the best daddy ever.

Operation Homefront-Florida will contact the 3 winners to arrange delivery/ presentation of Mizuno Prize packages. 

Operation Homefront-Florida would like to honor all nominated fathers with a special certificate.  If you submitted a picture and would like to receive the certificate please send your name, the nominee's name and rank, mailing address and email address to OHFL marketing intern, Reina Praxedes.

Friday, May 6, 2011

My Mother, My Hero

A photo of my mother and son she sent me during deployment.
**This inspirational Grandmother was chosen from nominations all over the country to visit the White House and have Mother's Day Tea with Michelle Obama.**

 Submitted by a South Florida Army Sgt.
My mother, Helen, has gone above and beyond supporting the Army and myself as a Soldier. She has been a Soldier more than I could say for the past 10 years of my service. Most recently, in June 2009, my unit was preparing for mobilization to Iraq. My mom drove down to help me pack up my apartment (for my second deployment) and all my son's things with it. I had to say goodbye to him in July, and she was there day in and day out to comfort and explain to my 3 year old where I was. She enrolled him in his first daycare, signed him up for gymnastics, and found a new pediatrician for his shots... she even took him to his first dentist appointment. My mom made sure my son stayed busy and never missed out on anything. Because of my schedule in Iraq the best chance to use the phone just so happened to be when she was at work (and my son was at school). My mom would leave work, drive to his school, just so I could hear his voice.   

My son at "Bring your child to work" Day
As my deployment was nearing the end, my mom's house in Ft Payne, AL was hit by a horrendous tornado. By the time she got the warning it was too late to leave her house. She grabbed my son, sister and cousins and tried their best to take cover in the hallway. The tornado took every wall and the entire roof out. My mom had to jump on top of the kids to protect them and in the end was hit by the roof and a washing machine. My mother was rushed to the emergency room to find her C2 and C3 vertebrae in her back were fractured, she had numerous bruises and cuts on her face, and bruised ribs...  the house was completely gone, everything but the floor. My son had nothing but a small scratch on his arm. I wasn't able to get there fast enough from Iraq to protect him but his grandmother certainly rose to the occasion. She has been the best grandmother and mother any Soldier could ask for.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Support to Make It All Possible

Submitted by a Florida Army National Guard Officer

I am a single parent with sole custody of my 14 year old daughter and joint custody of my 9 year old son.  Due to the loving care and dynamic support that my mother has provided over these challenging years, my children remain straight-A students, active in extra-curricular activities and positive in their attitudes and life views.  While those of us in uniform tend to receive a lot of recognition for what we do, our families also serve and make significant sacrifices to enable us to defend our freedom.  We could not do what we do without their patriotism and support.

In early 2003, I received short notice for an imminent mobilization in support of what would become Operation Iraqi Freedom.  My mother quit her job, packed up her belongings and moved from her home in  to my house in to care for my daughter (5 years old).  Though this disrupted my mother's life, she made this sacrifice to minimize disruptions of Ashley's life.  This enabled us to keep Ashley in the same school, same extracurricular activities and to remain close to Ashley's friends.  She took care of Ashley from January 2003 until March 2004.

During my mobilization and deployment to Afghanistan in 2005-2006, she again packed up her belongings and moved into my house and provided primary care from March 2005 to June 2005 to enable Ashley to finish out the school year.  Then she provided back up care to assist my sister who cared for Ashley from June 2005 to May 2006, when my mother again assumed primary care until my return in July 2006.

In 2009, we commenced our pre-mobilization training for another deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom/ Operation New Dawn.  My mother again packed up her belongings, moved out of her house and moved into my house to care for my daughter (12 years old).  She provided care from October 2009 to December 2009 and from January 2010 to December 2010.

Additionally, she consistently provides care for my daughter as well as my son when he is visiting, during my regularly scheduled Active Duty Training weekends, annual training and out of town conferences and meetings.

While I am proud to serve our country, i could not have continued my service all these years as a single parent without the loving support of my family and most especially the support that my mother has gladly provided.  She is a true patriot and a loving grandmother who has sacrificed much over these past years.

A Champion Mother

Read another beautiful nomination of a military mom!

Finally, I have someone to share my story with about my Mother and how she selflessly fell into the role of full time Grandmother during my husband’s deployment and my Basic Combat and Advanced Individual Training for six months.  While my husband had my mother’s full support during the first month of his deployment with endless packages from Ohio, my Mother would later learn her life would change to support not only her Son-In-Law who was deployed in Iraq, but also her Daughter who’d just sworn into the United States Army and on her way to Training.

My mother Odetta, is a Supervisor  at a Blood Center in Ohio.  At 47 years of age with over 20 years on her job and a single mother to my teenage sister at the time, I remembered my mother’s initial shock at my enlisting into the military, and her strong, protective “Bring my grandbabies to me” as her response to my two, five and seven year old moving into her home to spend the next six months with her.

During this period, my mother continued to perform to the highest standard in her career, while supporting my 17 year old sister, and raising her grandchildren. In addition to nurturing and keeping the spirits of my children in the happiest place during the absence of both their parents, she made sure they were enrolled in the best school and daycare never asking for more than she needed. My mother’s unfailing and unwavering commitment to myself and my husband were also apparent with letters from my children, packages, report cards, and even pictures with Santa sent to both Iraq and Fort Jackson, keeping our family’s morale and connection tightly knit during one of the most divided times in our family’s lives. My heart and a silent thank you goes out to the countless number of dedicated grandparents who offered their love and full-time support while their children deployed to serve, protect and defend one of the greatest nations in the world; but what set my mother apart from the rest was her ability to transition quickly from an already stressful and demanding lifestyle to increasing her load with three small children, a deployed son-in-law and daughter in training, all while raising her teenage daughter, supervising at her job and keeping her high blood pressure and diabetes from getting the best of her. My mother is my true champion and for her strength and continued support, I Love her with my whole heart. I owe my overall morale, my children’s happiness and my Military Career to her.
~Florida US Army Specialist

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Saluting the Military Mom

Operation Homefront-Florida is proud to celebrate the military mom.  Through their love, strength and support, military moms provide the foundation for our military force.    This week we want to share a few stories about how military moms have made a difference.  Feel free to share your own story.  Whether you are a mom of a military service member, a mom in a military family or an active duty military mom, we salute you!  Share your story like this one from a Jacksonville Army Officer.

My mother consistently steps up to the plate to take care of my children whenever I am activated. May it be while I was on active duty stationed in Hawaii and had to go out to the field for 30 days or now that I am in the Army National Guard and am set to deploy. She has graciously agreed to relocate from Michigan to Florida to stay with my 6 year old daughter so that her life is a little less disrupted by the absence of her mother and her older brother who will also be leaving for his first year of college this year.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A salute to a veteran

~ Operation Homefront-FL

A few weeks ago, CDR Allen Moreland passed away just a few months short of 100 years of age.  For those of you from the Jacksonville area, you may remember he was honored as the oldest veteran in the 2009 Veterans parade and was also honored at a Jaguars game that year.   Through the generosity of an anonymous donor, Operation Homefront-Florida was able to provide CDR Moreland with a brand new Navy dress uniform and cover to wear at those events.  He also wore the uniform to receive a special medallion, presented by Jacksonville Mayor, John Peyton.  

We were proud to be a small part of these special events and salute his life and service to our country. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

OHFL Team Helps Wounded Warrior Family

In 2010, Operation Homefront-Florida (OHFL) fielded over 500 requests for emergency assistance. Each case was unique and many were resolved with one of the various tools in the OHFL tool box. But in early December, OHFL had the opportunity to help a military family by using nearly all of the tools at one time. Together, OHFL board members, staff, volunteers and community supporters came together to help a South Florida wounded warrior and his wife in need of emergency assistance.

This young wounded warrior served 6 years as an infantryman in the Army and received a purple heart for an injury during Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) in 2008. Due to the complications of his injury, he was medically retired from the Army and faced the reality of civilian life with a very serious disability. He attempted to go to college and learn a new trade in order to make a living, but repeated hospital stays and the severity of his injury made completion impossible and saddled the young family with education debt. To make matters worse, the prospect of additional help through VA disability compensation seemed unattainable as a resolution to his claim was at least one year away. This wounded warrior was clinically diagnosed as unable to work or attend school and he and his wife were in a position where they were drowning financially.

After coming to OHFL for assistance, our case manager was able to review their finances and link them up with an attorney, who donated her time to help with credit issues. In addition, an OHFL board member helped expedite the disability compensation process and start the process to negotiate the forgiveness of education debt. After a careful look at the family’s expenses, OHFL determined the family was paying a good portion of their limited income on 2 storage units. To solve this problem, OHFL helped negotiate them out of their old storage unit contract and moved them into a new unit, paid for by OHFL. As a part of “Operation Assist our Wounded Warriors,” 6 Volunteers from the local Miami-Dade police department joined 2 OHFL board members to pack, load and move the family’s belongings from the old storage units to the new one. Finally, Operation Homefront-Florida was able to provide the family with food cards to help offset their current expenses and get them on their feet again.

Through a true team effort, Operation Homefront-Florida helped this young military family through a difficult period. Although they will undoubtedly face many challenges in the months and years ahead, during their time of crisis OHFL had the team of supporters ready to assist a family that sacrificed and served our country.

Here is a note we received from the family.

“We wanted to thank each person who has helped us through our tough moments. Thank you for all your great efforts. You are all very special people. Thank you to Operation Homefront, Betty, and our local Police Department.”