As the year winds down, I thought I would take a minute to give you an update on 38vfr. Thanks to a huge fundraising effort at the end of 2017, we came into this year with our largest budget to date. This in turn gave us the flexibility to help seventeen combat veterans that needed support. We had the opportunity to assist men with combat deployments spanning from Afghanistan clear back to Vietnam!
Staying true to our roots, 38vfr hosted three company reunions in 2018. Weapons company had two separate reunions; one for the Fallujah and Ramadi Marines, and a separate one for the Afghanistan Marines. This was the first reunion for the Afghanistan Marines and it was extremely successful. Rachel Ries, a spouse of a Weapons Co. Afghan Marine took on the majority of the reunion planning and will do so again for their reunion in 2019. Kilo Company had their reunion in August of 2018 and it was there largest one to date. This year’s reunion in North Carolina hosted 37 Marines, spouses, girlfriends, and kids. Kilo Company is currently planning an even bigger reunion for 2019, hoping to have over fifty people in attendance!
Earlier in the fall, 38vfr hosted its first ever healing retreat for combat veterans. Partnerships with Columbus Scuba and Mid-Ohio Dive Club were made, and Project Barracuda was created. Nine combat veterans, spanning from Maine to Nevada, came to Ohio to participate in Project Barracuda. Over the course of three days, these combat veterans become PADI certified Scuba Divers. The diving was amazing, but when interviewed, these Marines and Soldiers unanimously stated that the best part of Project Barracuda was being back in a tribe and feeling that comradery once again. Ryan Vaughn filmed Project Barracuda and we are excited to announce that in the upcoming months his video of the retreat will be released on our website! A heartfelt thank you goes out to Cari Stahlman. Without Cari, Project Barracuda would have never happened. Cari devoted countless hours to planning and coordinating this event.
In October, we had the largest turnover on our Executive Board to date. Amarinder Grewal, Donald Briere, and Marc Ziegler all stepped down to the Advisory Board. Phillip Guadalupe, Graham Platner, and Chris Vaughn replaced them. I would personally like to thank Amarinder, Don, and Marc for their dedication and sacrifice to this organization over the past couple of years. I look forward to the next year as well, with Phillip, Graham, and Chris on board.
In an effort to ensure that we are providing the best possible assistance to combat veterans in need, we decided that we should be willing to look at outside view points on how to best accomplish this task. With that in mind, the Executive Board unanimously voted to add three Advisory Board members that were not 3/8 Marines. These three individuals are Rachel Ries, Wade Spann, and Mark Jesinoski. Rachel is the wife of a Marine, Wade was an Infantry Marine in 1/5 who deployed to Fallujah and Ramadi, and Mark is a Clinical Psychologist that specializes in working with veterans with emotional trauma. Please join me in welcoming these three new members to our team.
At the end of last month, we launched our second annual Giving Tuesday campaign. While the final numbers will not be in until sometime in January, we are estimating that we were able to raise somewhere between eight to nine grand in that campaign!
To wrap this up, all of this would not be possible without literally thousands of people that are willing to help. There is a saying that goes “It takes a village to raise a child.” I feel like that quote holds true to what we do at 38vfr. It takes all of you to help one combat veteran in need. I am humbled to know so many amazing people that are willing to donate their time and money to help us achieve our mission. Lastly, I want to personally thank our friends at the DAV; Barry, Mark, and John. How many veterans across this nation live better lives because of your service? It’s an honor to know you.
Executive Director, 38vfr.org