Sunday, July 21, 2024

Local Coalition Celebrates America’s Heroes Every Day

The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes recently launched the America’s Littlest Helper’s Program. (Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes)

WILLIAMSBURG — The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes moved its headquarters to Williamsburg in September 2023, and since, it has been working to help honor those who served in Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation New Dawn with its many missions.

Founded in 2004, The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes has served as an immediate lifeline to help veterans in crisis. The organization is distinguished from other veteran-focused groups by its direct financial assistance to America’s wounded heroes. Its Emergency Financial Aid program has stopped foreclosure proceedings on veterans’ homes and kept their vehicles from being repossessed.

Its Heroes Thanking Heroes program provides transitional, part-time, flexible employment to nearly 50 combat-wounded veterans or their primary caregivers, enabling them to make phone calls from their homes, usually to personally thank donors for their contributions to the coalition.

For the month of April, known in the U.S. as the Month of the Military Child, the coalition celebrated the work of its America’s Littlest Helpers (ALH) program. The program, launched in July 2021, is one of the coalition’s newest initiatives. ALH is a program for military children, who also hold the title of caregiver, to just be kids.

“We serve and recognize these unseen heroes every day for their strength, resiliency and compassion. Many of America’s youngest heroes have grown up quicker than their civilian counterparts, helping their families in ways that most of their non-caregiving peers struggle to comprehend and relate to. From helping to remember medications to additional household chores, family isolation, caring for siblings, worrying about healthcare and shouldering the weight of caregiving, these youth can easily become consumed by their responsibilities. We celebrate our nation’s future leaders and are grateful for their service to our country,” Tiffany Steinmann, ALH Program Manager, said.

A family cooking event to create a family bonding moment. (Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes)

The ALH program aims to offer workshops for children, bible studies, a monthly email newsletter, family bonding activities, assistance with back-to-school supplies, sending care packages, and celebrating milestones in each child’s life such as birthdays and graduations.

Steinmann has a direct connection to the coalition. After her now husband deployed to Iraq, he was injured. Steinmann met him after his deployment and quickly noticed the invisible wounds that he possessed. It quickly began to take a toll on their marriage but the couple remained willing to work on their issues and save their relationship.

Through service animal training, she and her husband were introduced to the coalition. After attending some conferences hosted by the coalition, she knew she wanted to be involved, leaving behind a career as a school teacher to work full-time with the coalition and take care of her husband.

“We want to honor these kids and celebrate them and their unique family situations. It’s truly a joy and a privilege to be a part of this program,” Steinmann said.

A coalition family receives a check to help with expenses after a marriage retreat. (Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes)

The programs offered are not just for children, however. There is also a marriage retreat program to help veterans and their spouses in the event of a possible divorce, emergency assistance in the form of funds to keep a house or car, job opportunities, and more.

David Walker, CEO and President of Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes, is one of the founding members of the organization. Originally located in Leesburg, the coalition is now headquartered in Jamestowne Professional Park.

“The Coalition looks forward to many productive years operating in historic Williamsburg, which offers a most appropriate venue for patriots who have sacrificed for their country,” said Walker. “We have great respect for the rich military history of this area, and we look forward to meeting many of our new neighbors and other like-minded citizens who wish to join our mission and serve alongside us on behalf of America’s combat-wounded Veterans.”

As Walker meets veterans of all kinds, he is quick to hand out his cellphone number. He provides the number so that if any veteran ever needs anything from him, they can get in touch with him immediately.

“When they call in and use words like repossess, foreclose, evict, we provide the funds to keep the mortgage paid, the electric bill, etc. Within that, we’re also preventing them from using words that will hurt their lips, such as divorce, homelessness, abuse, suicide. We started as a response to a large number of combat-wounded veterans coming back from the War on Terror, but the war and the battle has moved home to a great degree,” Walker says.

The coalition is always seeking volunteers and donations to continue its many programs. To find out more information, visit saluteheroes.org.

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