As the world works to recover from the pandemic, I wonder what the new “normal” will look like and how our country will adjust.
Many of you know what it’s like to experience something that forever changes you, whether it’s something you experienced while in uniform or in your personal life. I think it’s fair to say this pandemic has changed us all.
This past year has been an incredible reminder of how much people are willing to help one another. There is something very powerful about overcoming adversity like this together; it’s a sense of camaraderie that binds us, not dissimilar from uniformed service.
You certainly have answered the call to support those who have fallen on hard times during the pandemic. That’s what leaders do. While we mentor and care for those around us, we also pick them up when they need a hand.
Many of you have contributed to The MOAA Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, and many of those contributions have funded COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief grants.
Each grant awards up to $500 to individuals in the active duty or veteran communities facing financial hardships due to the coronavirus.
I want to share this message of gratitude from one of our grant recipients; a former Army private facing eviction:
"Your generosity brought me to tears. In all that has transpired in the past year, in the world as well as my personal life, this gift helped renew my sense of hope. Having a safe and warm place to live is perhaps the only thing keeping me sane right now. I am at a place where I am having to reorder my life from the ground up. I am proud to have served my country, and it feels good to know that my country has my back when times get tough. …I am about to start a new job next week, which will be an improvement over my previous job. Once I get my routine established with that, I will look for areas to volunteer my time and pay it forward."
As you can imagine, homeless veterans or those on the brink of becoming homeless face even more daunting challenges today with restricted access to essential resources and fewer employment opportunities.
In July, a volunteer with MOAA’s Treasure Coast Chapter (Fla.) made us aware of a group of homeless or near-homeless veterans in dire need after the veterans’ shelter they were living in closed during quarantine. While the veterans were placed in alternate housing, they lacked access to support services they usually received at the shelter: daily meals, employment programs, and essential toiletries.
With help from a chapter volunteer and a local VA representative, we were able to assist these veterans until the shelter reopened.
We have many more testimonials, like this servicemember’s story from Baltimore, picked up by the local news:
In less than a year, we’ve received nearly 300 applications and have provided more than $100,000 in grants. We’ve awarded almost $30,000 over the past two months alone. We would not have been able to accomplish this without your support.
And while we thought life might be back to normal by now, I think we all understand many in our community will need continued support for the foreseeable future. Your personal contributions will ensure those who are less fortunate are able to navigate immediate challenges, just as we did for the group of homeless Florida veterans.
Because the need has been so great in the new year, The MOAA Foundation has reached a point of dwindling resources. We can’t continue helping those in need without your support.
To donate, please visit MOAA.org/donate and follow the instructions under “The MOAA Foundation.”
On behalf of all of those who have benefited from your benevolence, thank you. With your ongoing support, we can continue to live the motto Never Stop Serving.
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