Honoring Wounded Veterans
As another Veteran’s Day approaches I find that my usual occupation of scouring of the newspaper inserts for sales has been put on the back-burner, overshadowed by an introduction to one of the most important charitable organizations I’ve probably ever encountered, a non-profit organization headquartered right here in Frederick Maryland, doing fantastic work for our wounded veterans. Operation Second Chance, a 501(c)3 organization, founded by Cindy McGrew, a Frederick resident, is supporting wounded service members during their recovery and helping them in very practical ways as they transition back to duty or civilian life.
It Started With A Simple Hospital Visit
I met Cindy and got the opportunity to listen to the story of Operation Second Chance at an office meeting this week. OSC began when Cindy began visiting members of a friend’s unit who were injured and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington D.C. “I only intended to visit these three soldiers until they healed and went home, or until my friend completed his year tour of duty in Iraq. But it proved to be contagious, and almost 7 years later, OSC has grown and we’ve been touched by thousands of people.”
After a year of visiting, providing portable cribs for visiting wives, bringing food and cheer, Cindy was convinced by co-workers to start a non-profit organization. In almost 7 years, OSC has dispersed over $935,000 to provide emergency assistance for the many needs during a soldier’s recovery. Some of the gifts:
- Housing payments, electricity and utilities
- Airline and Amtrak tickets for family members
- Transitional housing
- Essential items like groceries, gas cards, formula and diapers to more than 1,000 individuals and families
- Morale and entertainment such as fishing trips, dinners, movies, concerts, ball games and cookouts
Cindy explained that even though the Veterans Administration provides for the medical care, there are so many other needs that go unprovided for. When a wounded soldier is discharged they often receive only a portion of their military pay. This often doesn’t cover any of the added expenses of living with disabilities. OSC helps with a lot of those needs. They have orchestrated the outfitting of homes to accommodate wheelchair accessibility. They have helped families cope with the stress of the transition with emotional and social support.
The young man in the wheelchair in front of the Washington Monument in the above picture is nick-named “Gabs”. He has a remarkable story. Since that time, unfortunately, he has lost one leg, and the other is tenuous. During his hospital stay, Gabs was visited by his girlfriend and wanted to do something special. Cindy arranged for a limousine ride around town (compliments of Chariots For Hire), a private tour of the west wing of the White House (compliments of a friend who worked in the White House) and a nice lunch at Old Ebbitt Grill. By the end of that very special day, the couple was gloriously engaged! Gabs has gone on to Stanford, where he graduated the top of his class, and is now in Law School. His outlook is bright and he is ready to visit other wounded soldiers and cheer them on to a successful life.
There are many “Friends of OSC”, businesses like Chariots for Hire, who donate services and products, give discounted rates, portions of their sales, and hold fundraisers to support the efforts of the non-profit. Corporations, small businesses, as well as individuals can help in many ways.
How Can I Help?
- Operation Second Chance has several fundraising events, the largest local event is Ride Allegheny every year in October. Members take a 4-day, 325 mile bicycle ride from Pittsburgh, PA to Gaithersburg, Md.
- Donations can be personal or corporate, you can donate online, or by mail (address on website), or through the Combined Federal Campaign.
- If you or your company or organization would like to sponsor a fundraiser, contact Cindy at email@example.com
Become a Volunteer. There are many ways to help this important organization:
- Professional Assistance – grant writing and marketing/public relations
- Gift Cards
- Send a simple Thank You card in care of OSC
Keep up with Operation Second Chance on Social Media:
Operation Second Chance Facebook Page – Keep up with current needs.
Connect with Cindy McGrew on Linked In
Tweet with Cindy: @Hornetspirit
Enjoy this video about Operation Second Chance:
(Warning: The stories are moving and impacting… you’ll be changed.)
Hoping we all enjoy Veteran’s Day more than ever! Karen