Operation Homefront: here for you

22 Dec 2009 | Marine Cpl. Jessica L. Martinez

Your spouse is deployed and you are left behind to pay the bills, take care of your two children as well as your home. As if the challenges of now being the “single parent” with your spouse thousands of miles away isn’t enough, your washing machine is broken, your third child is due any day now and you are in dire need of some help.

Fortunately there is a non-profit organization that specializes in helping service members and the families left behind when their service member deploys.

“Just over seven years ago, a small group of passionate and entrepreneurial military family members had an idea and a dream,” as stated by the Operation Homefront Web site. “The idea was to help our troops and the families they were leaving behind as they began deploying from ports and military installations to battlefields thousands of miles away. The dream was to create a sustainable organization that would provide critical services to meet the changed needs and requirements of the military communities they were serving.”

Since that time Operation Homefront has been providing “emergency and morale assistance” for service members and the families left behind as well as for the wounded warriors when they return home.

The organization currently has more than 33,000 volunteers in 30 chapters serving 37 states. Operation Homefront has met more than 105,000 needs of military families, served more than 38,000 families nationwide, and is now one of the largest and most successful charities assisting all branches of the military community nationwide, as stated by their Web site.

Until recently, the nearest Operation Homefront chapter was located in Fayetteville, N.C., but now there is a Jacksonville chapter to assist the Camp Lejeune community.

“It’s important to be here in Jacksonville,” said Beth Hawk, Jacksonville chapter representative with Operation Homefront. “Camp Lejeune is one of largest bases, and our mission is to support service members and their families, so it’s a necessity to be near the families.”

There are many ways Operation Homefront supports and assists the military and their families.

“Operation Homefront provides aid to families struggling not only with emergencies but also with the problems of everyday life,” as stated by the Web site. 

The organization has a variety of programs. Vehicle repair, which assists families who have a service member deployed and their only means of transportation has broken down, helps with services such as towing, diagnostics and general repairs.  The furniture program collects and distributes donations of quality used furniture, baby items and appliances to military families in need of such items. The moving assistance program helps families by supplying the physical labor to assist families with deployed service members with non-PCS moves such as moving items in or out of storage upon deployment or return from deployment or moving into military housing.

Another program offered by Operation Homefront is the housing program. This program offers short-term housing for wounded warriors through Operation Homefront Villages.

“Operation Homefront Villages are rent-free and fully-furnished two and three-bedroom apartment units,” as stated by their Web site. “They also feature extensive community centers, space for children to play, computers with specialized software to accommodate disabilities, and counselors to assist with filing benefit claims, educational assistance including scholarships and college enrollment, and help train for and find good-paying jobs.”

The villages were created near major medical facilities such as Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., to help wounded warriors continue to get the treatment they need and recuperate while having their families with them.

“Wounded warriors are a specific concern for Operation Homefront,” as stated by their Web site. “According to recent statistics, more than 30,000 service members have been wounded in action. Service members disabled from injuries return home, are discharged from the service and have 30 days to vacate base housing. Then they have to wait, some as long as 18 months, for their VA compensation to begin while they continue recuperating at major medical facilities.”

The organization relies on volunteers to achieve their mission in helping the military community. When a service member is deployed, the family left behind is often faced with challenges. Operation Homefront can help families over come those challenges with the help of their volunteers.

“With the chapter being new to Jacksonville, the biggest thing we’re looking for right now is volunteers,” said Hawk. “We are always looking for volunteers, and we are always accepting donations of new items. We can’t help families and our service members if we don’t have volunteers. If we volunteer and help each other out, we can get things done.”

For more information on the Jacksonville chapter or to volunteer, call or e-mail Beth Hawk at 863-838-2418 or For more information about Operation Homefront, visit their Web site at