Since our son serves in the U.S. Army and is stationed a great distance from home, we know his longing to see his family. Our family is a tight knit group with six kids. The siblings of our soldier miss him as deeply as he longs to be with them. We love America and we all are so proud of our son's service. When we spoke with him on the phone we knew by the sound of his voice he was hoping to be home for Christmas but was unsure if the dream would come true. During the fall of 2014, we wanted to see our son home for Christmas. He didn't know if he would receive "leave", but he prayed and hoped it could happen. We could tell that he not only wanted to be home, he needed to be home to see the faces of those who drive his reason to serve.
Justin was able to come home for Christmas that year. Being stationed in Alaska his travel was extremely expensive. He was able to get home with the financial help of family members.
The next year our son was home for Thanksgiving 2015 leave. We made sure he could be home to celebrate with his family. During his time at home we asked him, “How many enlisted soldiers who receive a Holiday leave actually get to go home?” His answer was quite surprising and moving, “Very few.”
This is the reason for Operation H.O.M.E.
(Helping Our Military’s Enlisted)
After that conversation, we began to realize many of our brave young enlisted soldiers cannot afford to travel home to see their families. Getting the opportunity for "leave" is not the problem. The meager pay our enlisted service people receive does not permit many to save enough to buy tickets home. We asked ourselves, "How can we help those who cannot afford to get home during the holidays?" (For many of the military personnel who have not seen family in several years a trip home is a therapeutic and restorative time that boost troop morale.)
We decided on December 11, 2015 to try meeting as many needs as possible. We founded Operation H.O.M.E with the goal of Helping Our Military's Enlisted get home for Christmas. We contacted friends, family and business associates to ask for help. God used a small group of people to donate over $13,000 in just 12 days. Operation H.O.M.E. worked with the assistance of Army Chaplains to find 10 deserving soldiers and funded their trips home.
The service member had to meet one of the following two criteria:
- They had not seen their family in two years.
- They were facing some extenuating circumstances.
Here are just a few of the many stories showing the difference you've made in the lives of our soldiers.
PARKER: Coming Home to Fargo, ND
The very first soldier suggested to us for the opportunity to receive a trip home for Christmas was SPC Parker.
Parker had served his country with pride but the pay for an enlisted soldier just did not allow for Parker to go home. No family help was available and he longed to see parents and siblings.
Christmas 2015 was very special for the Parker family. Their soldier son was home for the first time in 4 years.
10 Soldiers sent home
BENNETT: Christmas surprise
Bennett had not seen her family for more than two years and was recommended as one of our 2015 recipients. We arranged for her trip to Florida, which provided a rejuvenating time with her family during Christmas.
In January 2016, we travelled to Alaska to visit with our son. While there, he introduced me to Lt. Col. Thogmartin and Maj. Hall, the Chaplains who work with Operation H.O.M.E. in selecting the soldiers who will receive the gift. These two great American heroes minister to our soldiers on a daily basis.
We also had the opportunity to personally meet with Bennett who shared the joy she had with her family during the previous holidays.
MILLER: Reunited with her children
Learning the stories of these soldiers was quite moving but none as heart touching as the soldier named Miller. Miller had struggled through harsh divorce and custody battle. While training to serve our country, this soldier had to fight for the custody of their children. Miller was relieved to have custody of the children but soon realized the job in the military was extremely difficult for a single parent. Miller’s children were transferred to live with the children’s grandparents in North Carolina -4300 miles away from the base in Alaska. The gift from great Americans, who support Operation H.O.M.E. became a gift not only to Miller but also to the soldier’s children. This mother hugged her children and they loved on their mother for the first time in two years.
HAMLIN: Home for Christmas
According to CPT Josh Curtis, one soldier under his command, PFC Hamlin from Mississippi, "volunteered for the US Army for patriotism, honor and to give back to this Nation." She saw it as a way to continue educating her self to make for a better future.
Hamlin also financially takes care of her mother and 4 siblings back home. Being that the economy has been weak for the last 8 years she sends home a good portion of her pay to assist her family's financial instability. Hamlin's stress helping back home is elevated because of her mothers poor health that keeps her from working.
The selfless acts of serving the country and supporting her family can be a very mentally taxing endeavor. Since her family is dependent on her income Hamlin could not afford to save the money to go home for Christmas.
The sacrificial giving of the donors to Operation H.O.M.E assured Hamlin arrived home in time for Christmas 2016, much her family's joyous surprise.
AN OVERJOYED MOTHER
Mike from Florida had no money to get home for Christmas 2016. Operation H.O.M.E. helped Mike get there. However, only Mike knew he would be home for Christmas......his mother had no idea.
Watch and try not to smile.
17 Service Members help home
HEALANDER: Give and it shall be given to you!
Operation H.O.M.E. had just overnighted 16 packages to the 2016 recipients for travel home for Christmas. Not yet even 1 mile from the FedEx drop off and a phone call came in from Chaplain MAJ Hall about a PFC Healander.
During the year 2016 Healander's home town was devastated by tornadic weather. His parents' home was destroyed and the roof was ripped from his sisters house. Healander offered his house trailer to his parents and sent money back to his sister to help replace her roof.
Because of his sacrifice to his family he could not save the money to go home for Christmas.
Operation H.O.M.E. sent out the 17th package immediately to get Healander home for Christmas.
"If I can see my little girl, that is all I want for CHRISTMAS."
Although his life away from the military was in tatters that statement summed up the simple desire felt by PFC Angel T. This fine soldier had been sending the majority of his service pay back to his father and siblings in Puerto Rico ever since Hurricane Irma destroyed the island. His financial support helped his family with water, food and shelter. However, his generosity prevented him from affording a plane fare to be with any family for CHRISTmas. When offered to be flown back home for CHRISTmas his response was quite moving "I cannot go back. The house I grew up in is gone. The street I grew up on is gone. I am afraid if I go back I will not be able to leave my family in those conditions and head back to my base and the comforts here." As the interview continued PFC T. spoke about his young daughter living with her mother in NY. He had not seen her in more than a year. Because of the sacrifice this soldier made for the country and his family, Operation H.O.M.E. offered to send him to Puerto Rico and NY to see his daughter. "If I can see my little girl, that is all I want for CHRISTMAS." That is exactly what he got.
A CHRISTMAS REUNION....Completely UNexpected!
PFC Hooks spent almost the full 22 years of his life in foster care homes. Operation H.O.M.E. received a recommendation for Hooks to travel to his home state for CHRISTmas. While interviewing PFC Hooks, he expressed the desire to spend CHRISTmas with his best friend's family. "They always treated me like one of theirs. I always felt welcome there." After Hooks returned back to his base he contacted Operation H.O.M.E. to say "Thank You" to all of the sponsors who made it possible to be "HOME". Hooks then unloaded a huge surprise. The surprise was greater for him than for Operation H.O.M.E. While home, after more than 15 years, he received an unexpected visit from his maternal grand-mother and his birth mother. Hooks said "Without Operation H.O.M.E. that would have never happened."
25 individual reunited with family
CHRISTMAS 2017 greeted Operation H.O.M.E with Additional needs beyond other years. Some soldiers who could not travel at CHRISTMAS had extreme needs that OPERATION H.O.M.E. Helped with after the first of the year.
* PFC Melissa M. was assisted back to Los Angeles to visit her terminally ill mother.
* PVT Lynette G. could not schedule for leave at CHRISTmas. She did receive leave to go home in January 2018. The reason she needed to go home was the need to move her daughter, who was living with an ill grandmother, to the base where PVT G. is stationed.
* SPC McJames, age 21, is awaiting word from the courts in her home states so she can take custody of her 2 younger siblings. McJames lost her mother in 2017 and is battling to keep her brother and sister together with her.
A REAL FAMILY REUNION
The families of US military personnel make huge sacrifices as the military member serves. The family sacrifices are significant. Few civilians, realize how the families are impacted. The stress can be significant and often leads to divorce.
Daniel and Sophia were married June 2012. After leaving the military in 2013 Sgt. Daniel G., re-enlisted with the US Army in 2016, then was deployed to Afghanistan during 2017. This caused Daniel to miss CHRISTmas with his wife Sophia and 4-year-old son Adam. The separation put stress on the marriage.
Daniel was in a tough situation. During 2018, Sophia had filed for and received a divorce. She moved from Anchorage, Alaska 4,400 miles back home to an east coast southern state with Adam, now 5 years old.
In November 2018, OPERATION:H.O.M.E. was contacted by Daniel’s 1st Sergeant with a request for help to get Daniel to see his son for CHRISTmas.
Missing CHRISTmas two years in a row was completely unacceptable to Daniel. He had to get to his son. Daniel’s problem was that he is stationed at JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) Alaska and a plane ticket to the eastern US would cost $1,500 which he did not have.
With CHRISTmas fast approaching, OPERATION:H.O.M.E. contacted Sgt. Daniel G. He explained his situation and said it was imperative he reach his son for CHRISTmas. As he shared his story, it became clear that 6 years had passed since he had been to his hometown where his parents lived. OPERATION:H.O.M.E. offered to fly Daniel G. to his son and then fly the two of them to Daniel’s parents a couple states away. Daniel declined the second offer and requested that money be spent on another soldier. He said he would drive to see his parents. We agreed to help Daniel fly home to see his son for CHRISTmas.
As a follow up after Christmas, OPERATION:H.O.M.E. spoke to Daniel after his return to base to ask how his trip went. Daniel shared the trip to see his son was “Awesome” and he was able to take his son to see his parents. But Daniel’s good news didn’t stop there. He told us that Sophia and he decided they would work to make their family whole. Daniel stated he was going to request a career change inside the military, hoping to become a recruiter and take a position as close to his family as possible. Sophia was pleased.
We were obviously excited about these developments, and Daniel asked if he could share something else. ”Of course!” we replied. “I know that you may think this is crazy but…” Daniel said, “we not only decided to try and make it work, we actually remarried and committed to make this thing work.”
WOW -- Daniel got his trip. Sophia got her husband. Adam got his family. MERRY CHRISTmas to all!
To help the family further, OPERATION:H.O.M.E. provided counseling resources to help them build a stronger bond.
This could not have happened without the contributions and prayers from the incredibly dedicated supporters of OPERATION:H.O.M.E.
The last time we spoke to Daniel was the second week of August 2019. He was on “leave”. His job while on “leave” was moving his family from the southern U.S. to the upper north-west to his new station. Absolutely Fantastic.
Thank you to all who support this work.
25 Military Members Given trips home
2 Members of the USAF traveled home from Guam…The Second Branch of the Armed Forces We have Helped!
Our goal is to help every branch!
SPC. J. VERA could not afford to go home to San Juan PR., for CHRISTmas, even though his sister was getting married.
OPERATION H.O.M.E. donors made it happen for SPC. Vera. The bride was happy.
A1C. BRONTLEY wanted to see his ailing grand-father one last time. His ticket from his station in the Pacific Ocean was too expensive on his military budget. Thank you OPERATION H.O.M.E. supporters for your sacrifice to make this possible.
SPC. Babbidge had not been home for CHRISTmas in 3 years partly because of a deployment to the Middle East. Babbidge got home for CHRISTmas 2018 thanks to OPERATION H.O.M.E.
How it Works
Operation: H.O.M.E has been set up as a nonprofit 501c3 allowing donations to be tax deductible. Your Donations will go to pay the cost of sending a soldier home for the Holidays.
In 2015 we based the cost of getting these Soldiers home by comparing what it cost for our Army son ($1,600) to come home for Christmas 2014. During the year 2015 the cost per soldier averaged $1,200. That year we had donations ranging $500-$3,600. The 2015 recipients flew home to their homes all across the country from California to Connecticut to Florida and to states in the middle of the map. As per our name, Helping Our Military Enlisted, our first goal is to help the enlisted soldiers because of their pay grade. However, we will help those soldiers with serious needs when we can. We started with helping soldiers at the Alaska base we were familiar with but hope to extend the help to other bases and other military branches.
In 2018 our average cost to send a soldier home was $1,450.00
Please consider sponsoring a single soldier at $1,400.00
Or give whatever gift you can. We will work with different military bases and take care of booking the trip for each soldier in need.
Our goal for Christmas 2019 is to raise $100,000 to cover the cost for getting 65 soldiers home. If these individuals do not get home for Christmas they likely will be stuck on their respective military base unless someone is willing to give them a great Christmas gift.
Time is short. A soldier needs to get home. Please give today!
The past two years, the soldiers have benefited from the generous gifts of Americans who do not know them but who want to recognize their service and sacrifice.
Would you consider joining our Mission to give soldiers the gift of being home?
On behalf of this year’s recipients, THANK YOU!
Our goal for 2019 is to raise $100,000 to send 65 soldiers home. Every dollar makes a difference.
$1,400 - Send a Soldier
On average it costs $1,300 to send a soldier home for Christmas. Would you consider sponsoring a single soldier?
$100 - Soldier's christmas package
A $100 gift covers the cost of a selected Soldier's Christmas package which includes a military Bible, a letter from Operation H.O.M.E., music CDs, and the cost of shipping.
40% of our donations are $100 or less. Make a personal donation to our cause. Any amount makes a difference.
All donors contributing $200 or more can honor a past or present member of the military on our Wall of Honor page.