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

Friday, February 17, 2012

Military Love Story

In honor of Valentine's Day, OHFL has asked military couples to share their love stories with us. We chose to share the stories on our blog for everyone to enjoy. 

It takes a strong couple to make it in the military. Hearing the stories of how they met or how they're love overcame an obstacle reminds us of the sacrifices our military takes to protect our freedom.  

The contest ends February 24th and the winner should be announced within the following week. The lucky winner will receive a necklace and matching earrings donated by Lisa Buben of Lia Sophia Jewelry.

"My husband Michael and I met and fell in love at the very young ages of 17 and 18 and just graduating from high school. He asked me to marry him right after telling me that he had decided to join the Army so he could support us. He served 9 years and then decided to change his career and left the military. Little did we know that many years later our country would be at war and Michael wanted to do his part and serve again. He joined the FLNG in 2006. I have always loved being a military wife and being a part of that community. Being seperated in 2008-2009 while he served in Iraq was a test of our relationship (as it is for everyone). The seperation makes everyday of our time together so precious. He has now been in school for the last 7 months and I've only seen him a few times during that timeframe. As always it's been trying, but also as always, the distance makes our love grow stronger.

"My husband and I meet June 1998 in Germany, we were dual military. I still remember the first time that I saw him. Ever since then the man has always made me laugh! Gerald and I had been dating for 17 months; he received orders to Ft. Bragg. During a phone conversation Gerald asked me to marry him and I told him not to ask me over the phone. After that, I obtain approved leave, flew to Ft. Bragg, bought a ring, proposed to him on one knee, got married, and then flew back to Germany. Since then I have given birth to two wonderful children, ended my career in the military in 2003, completed my four year degree (while working full time and being a single parent, during deployments), Gerald has completed 53 months deployed and scheduled to go to Afghanistan this year, and I currently work full time as a FRSA for the Army's Special Forces Command helping those family members that go through the same predicament as I do (for that is my way of finding peace and knowing that I'm not alone)."

"My military love story involves me and my wife after every deployment I have. A lot of us have been there but if not just imagine you have been away from the one you love with all your heart for 6, 9, or 12 months what ever the case may be. For the last year you have been dreaming about how that day will be when you see each other again. So now after an 18 hour plus trip you finally landed in the states. You are in such a hurry to get off the plane you dont care if you leave something behind. Once through the gates you go running like a little kid to your love and you guys imbrace for what seems like hours but is just minutes. Crying, hugging, and kissing like you haven't done before. Once embraced the true feeling of love is felt. That is my love story between me and my wife. Every time I get back from a deployment which has been eight times already we just embrace and never let go because we love each other so much."

"My husband and I started talking through Match.com when he was stationed in Baghdad for his second tour. For 6 weeks we wrote back and forth. Two days after he got back, he took me on the best first day of my life.
Three months later we were engaged, and within one more month we went to the courthouse in Tampa to elope. We kept it a secret from everyone for four months.
Our families and friends were shocked, when asked why we didn’t wait to have a real ceremony we openly reply that we knew from our first date together we would never be the same. As crazy as it sounds to the rest of the world, we couldn’t wait to be married and start our lives together.
Two years later, he is still the only person who can brighten my day in a simple sentence, make my heart flutter when he enters the room, and truly knows me more intimately than I know myself. I love that man!"

"Serving as a Marine Security Guard at our nation's embassy in Tunis, Tunisia was an honor and a privilege. But it was pretty lonely duty. Two secretaries, one from the American Embassy and one from the Canadian Embassy arranged a dinner party where Stella and I can meet for the first time. Stella was serving as a Foreign Service secretary for the Canadian Department of External Affairs. I don't recall what we had for dinner or how many guests were there. I do remember standing on a balcony with a glass or red wine when I stole my first kiss. Four short months later, on Canadian Independence Day (July 1st) I proposed and she accepted. Within a couple of months I receive orders to Capetown, South Africa. The following year of separation was difficult. A year later we reconnected and were married in a simple ceremony in Southern California. We meet in 1977, 35 years ago and our journey continues."

"My husband, Thomas, and I met in a very different way. I was on vacation in Dec. 2008 with my now ex-boyfriend in Texas & For New Years Eve, we decided to go out with some of his friends, who had consequently brought along one of their single friends to be their designated driver, whose name was Thomas. We all hung out and a few words were exchanged between myself and Thomas. We went out separate ways and things ended up going sour with my boyfriend and I and eventually ended on Valentine's Day 2009. Later that year in August, I had received a facebook message from a stranger. So, I checked out his profile and realize who he was. It was Thomas! We talked online for about 2 weeks before we moved to conversing via the phone. We just felt an instant connection and everything felt right. We ended up getting engaged 9-15-2009 & were married at the Courthouse 10-15-2009. We have been married for almost 2 and a half years & have never been happier! It was the best decision of my life."

"Eric and I met in High School when he was 16 and I was 15, we dated off and on over the years and he joined the military at age 17. We fell in love and were married at the court house in 2000, its been 18 years since we first met, 4 daughters later, & our love is even stronger. During his first deployment to Afghanistan in 05, we almost didnt make it. Things were rough everywhere and divorce was a real possibility. Financial issues mixed with the fact that I believed he would not make it back home safely to be with us caused serious issues. When he finally did come home in 06, he made me remember who I fell in love with. With time and patience, we worked on our marriage and made it better. In those last 5 years, I finally realized that I am married to my best friend and wouldnt change a minute because it brought us to where we are today ~ happily celebrating 12yrs of marriage in September."

"I met my husband while we were both stationed in Alaska. We were friends first, but 4 months prior to his next assignment, we decided to date. For the next 4 months, we were inseparable. It was the most wonderful and exciting time of my life. He then moved to California, and I stayed in Alaska. When he left, we had no plans for the future, but it wasn’t long before we knew that we wanted to give a long distance relationship a try. It was one of the hardest times of my life. Six months later he asked me to marry him. We were to be married on 4 February, 2009 in Hawaii. I had designed my wedding dress, and the plans were all set. I had taken my dress to be altered 1 week prior to the wedding, but when I went to pick it up, the shop had burnt to the ground! I was shocked, but determined that I was going to marry this man and I did! It has been 8 years and counting, through a burnt wedding dress, multiple deployments, and so much more! But I wouldn't change a thing!"

"We met on Match.com. He found me and messaged me. I was a bit hesitant at first, but then I saw his picture. I knew right then and there that I had to meet him in person. So, I drove 2 hours to meet him. (he lived on base in China Lake, CA) When I got there he was wearing a tie and looked so handsome. I knew he was the one, my Sailor Prince. We dated for a while and then he popped the question! I said yes and a month later he left for Japan... That was hard, being apart for 3 years! We only saw each other a few times, but that is the Navy life! Near the end of his time in Japan, he came home we got married and a week later he returned to Japan for 5 weeks. It was love at 1st sight and we have been in love ever since. We now have a beautiful baby boy and could not be happier! I LOVE MY SAILOR PRINCE!!"

The contest is still open! If you would like to share your military love story with us for a chance to win a necklace and earring set, please click here.

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.”