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Guest Post: Yellow Ribbon Fund

In honor of Veterans Day, we welcome the Yellow Ribbon Fund to GoodWorks. While Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Ft. Belvoir Community Hospital provide world-class medical care for gravely wounded service members, the Yellow Ribbon Fund provides the programs that make daily life more manageable for the wounded and their family caregivers. YRF serves over 1,000 soldiers and their families annually through practical, hands-on assistance during recovery at the hospital, and ongoing support during reintegration to civilian life back home.

by Kristin Henderson
Communications Director, YRF

It’s Veterans Day again, a time to honor and thank those who’ve served in uniform. Be sure to thank the families, too. Every week, we hear stories like this one from the injured service members and families we serve:

“The Yellow Ribbon Fund took care of us when no one else would. I arrived at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on a weekend to greet my wounded husband, with a newborn son and 3-year-old daughter in tow. No one is in the offices there on the weekends and my kids desperately needed a place to rest other than the hospital. YRF paid for our hotel room for those first few nights until the Army had cut us orders to stay at the hotel on base. Later in my husband’s recovery, when he could leave the hospital, they took us to baseball games. This seems inconsequential but it gave our entire family a break from the hospital environment. It made our daughter feel special and let us smile and laugh together. We’re eternally grateful for that. Our daughter’s best Walter Reed memories are going with the Yellow Ribbon Fund to see the Nationals play. And my husband’s first solo trip without me was on a Yellow Ribbon Fund tour of a battlefield. That trip gave him confidence that he could do some things on his own despite his physical limitations. Yellow Ribbon Fund provides not just assistance for wounded warrior families, but they build hope as well.

Through the Yellow Ribbon Fund, our supporters are able to offer real thanks to injured service members and their families for their sacrifices. Since 2005, we’ve been listening to what the injured and their family caregivers tell us they need. Then we fill those gaps in support with practical help for the whole family, because when the service member is wounded, the whole family is wounded. Our focus on the family sets us apart, especially the services we pioneered for family caregivers — mostly moms and wives who sacrifice jobs and put their lives on hold to help care for their injured loved ones. It can take years to recover from a devastating combat injury. Family caregivers are truly America’s unsung heroes.

So while injured troops are recovering at Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, YRF provides free rental cars, taxi rides, hotel stays, and apartments for visiting family members. We arrange for family-friendly activities and stress-relieving massages for the family caregivers. We organize more than 100 social events and outings yearly for the injured and their families, including free tickets to sporting and cultural events. These events and outings nurture family relationships during a difficult time. We also offer career and education mentoring. Even after they return to their hometowns, our nationwide network of volunteers continues to provide practical support.

The needs of our injured heroes and their families will go on long after the wars are over. But with the help of our donors and volunteers, we will ensure they don’t fall through the gaps. We’ll keep on saying thank you in ways that make a real difference.

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