Since 2002, tens of thousands of military families and single service members facing financial emergencies have been bailed out by Operation Homefront, Barbara Cernock told listeners Oct. 22 at the 2013 Annual Meeting and Exposition of the Association of the United States Army.
Her nonprofit, Cernock said, steps in when a financial crisis arises to pay for a critical need: the rent or a mortgage, groceries, a car payment or repair, a baby’s necessities, urgent health care, and the like. The item is usually paid for within a week, sometimes in as little as 24 hours.
Emergency aid is also given to any service member wounded, ill, or injured since 9/11 in the line of duty.
In addition, since last year Operation Homefront has enabled military families to take over close to 200 foreclosed homes without mortgages, according to Cernock, director of corporate relations. Banks donate the homes to Operation Homefront, which has them inspected and goes back to the banks to pay for any needed repairs. Operation Homefront considers applications for these homes from military families past and presentactive duty, wounded warrior, or veteran of a recent or past war.
The family chosen is responsible for the utilities and part of the taxes as well as upkeep on the property. ”If the family can maintain that home for up to one year, that home is given to them mortgage free, Cernock said.
Operation Homefront also offers free apartments for six to 12e months for wounded warriors and their families transitioning out of the military. The apartments are in California, Texas, and Maryland.
Last year, Cernock added, Operation Homefront also provided backpacks and school supplies to 34.000 children as well as holiday meals. It also offers support groups and retreats for those caring for wounded soldiers.
The group raises about $66 million a year, she said. All its funds come from private donations from companies and individuals.
“Families do not have to pay anything back. It’s not a loan,” Cernock said. ”It is basically our way of saying --thank you for your service.”