Travel bans. School closings. Basic health supplies soaring off store shelves. COVID-19, or the coronavirus, has the world simultaneously stopping in its tracks and scurrying to act in keeping our loved ones safe and healthy while doing our diligence to prevent further spread of the pandemic.
Hope For The Warriors, a national non-profit committed to serving our country’s post-9/11 veteran and military communities, was created in 2006 by military spouses to help their neighbors through crisis. It quickly evolved to adding virtual services that today still meet our warriors where they are and opens doors for individualized care, no matter the circumstances.
“Hope For The Warriors was born from the need to rally our neighbors, our communities around the men and women who were returning from war wounded, ill and injured,” said Hope For The Warriors CEO Robin Kelleher. “The dire need for bedside care and physical recovery has evolved to addressing the mental, emotional and social wounds of war, and our organization has evolved with it.”
HOPE offers a variety of virtual programming — from resiliency training, stress management, telehealth, an online job search and career training platform, even virtual runs — that open access to myriad avenues to promote the overall well-being and success of the military community.
These virtual touchpoints are what allows Hope For The Warriors to continue serving through a crisis such as the coronavirus. In fact, they’re leaders in telehealth, having established its first virtual care programming in 2011.
Virtual platforms also keep the HOPE team from missing a beat, even when gathering in person is discouraged.
“Every one of the more than 55 HOPE employees is set up to work virtually,” said Kelleher. “We use Zoom video conferencing to not only work with clients and hold virtual seminars and classes, we use it every day for team meetings, workplace training and to connect with our partners and supporters. And in times like these, it keeps our team healthy, so they can stay the course in carrying out our mission to serve others.”
With a staff that stretches from San Diego to Boston to Tampa and dozens of towns in between, Hope For The Warriors prides itself in being a community-based organization with national reach. More than 70 percent of the HOPE team is either a veteran or military spouse, so the organization is firmly rooted in military communities, both physically as well as their understanding where military families go for support.
In the last two years, HOPE has stood ready to help military families through natural disasters such as hurricanes and in other larger-impact crisis like the partial government shutdown that affected the United States Coast Guard. Disaster relief organizations come to Hope For The Warriors to connect them to military families who need help most. And military families know HOPE as a trusted, reliable and understanding source for help when crisis becomes very personal.
That’s where HOPE shines — providing individualized care that promotes the overall well-being of the person, the family and the military community. It starts with a virtual intake application for services on www.hopeforthewarriors.org, which is quickly followed by a phone call from a trained HOPE team member who assesses the individual’s needs. That initial conversation sets them on a life-transforming course via Hope For The Warriors’ programs and services, or a warm hand-off to one of HOPE’s 100+ partners in mission.
“Last year, we provided over 12,000 services to the warrior community,” said Hope For The Warriors Chief Impact Officer Emma Walsh. “That number increases every year. Our programs and services mirror what veterans and military families need — taking a person facing homelessness to financial stability, walking alongside an injured service member on his or her first mile post-recovery, accompanying a veteran on his or her journey to find connection and a greater purpose outside military service. Our mission is to meet each person when they need help most and show them there’s hope.”
While much of Hope For The Warriors’ activity takes place virtually, the organization remains firmly rooted in communities. Fundraising events, golf tournaments, marathons, military expos and a Run For The Warriors road race series is where the organization connects civilian communities, partners and donors to its mission, and all contribute significant funding to HOPE’s mission and infrastructure.
“As events are being cancelled or postponed on a daily basis, we certainly stand behind event organizers’ decisions to keep everyone healthy,” said Kelleher. “However, those cancellations negatively affect funds we depend on to carry out our programs and services. We’re currently working with those event hosts and organizers on creative virtual solutions.”
With the cancellation of the New York City Half Marathon, HOPE has offered the option of a virtual run to its Team Hope For The Warriors members, so they can still realize their months of training, receive a finisher medal from HOPE and continue to meet their fundraising goals.
Fundraising remains top of mind for Hope For The Warriors as it understands expanded needs from the military community when a crisis like the coronavirus takes place.
“We think about pay gaps for young military families when schools close and a parent isn’t able to work for lack of access to childcare,” said Walsh. “We think of access to medical supplies for wounded veterans who may be up against price gouging. We anticipate the additional stress a pandemic can trigger in someone already navigating PTSD. Our mission is to stand ready to serve those who fought for us.”
It’s easy to give virtually through the Hope For The Warriors website. Or commit to ongoing support of our country’s post-9/11 warrior community by joining the Circle of Hope with a monthly gift. Learn how you can become part of the Hope For The Warriors community as a partner by contacting our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.