San Diego is fortunate to have so many nonprofit organizations supporting San Diego's military community. Below are a few organizations that are helping make a difference in the lives of our military community.
The Armed Services YMCA San Diego enhances the lives of service members and their families in mind, body, and spirit through programs and services that are relevant to the unique challenges of military life.
The Armed Services YMCA San Diego (ASY San Diego) was established in 1920 with the focus of making military life easier for local active duty military members and their families. For over 90 years, the ASYMCA has evolved and expanded to best meet the growing and changing needs of military families by offering free programs for youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Currently, we serve active-duty members and their families each month, primarily targeting our local population of enlisted (E1-E7) service members. Through all of our programs, the ASY San Diego works to make a significant, positive impact in the lives of our military men, women, and especially children. The ASY San Diego provides access to programs and services at two sites, our Murphy Canyon Military Housing site and our Naval Medical Center San Diego site. The Armed Services YMCA was designated as an "Exceptional" Charity in 2012 by Charity Navigator and is funded by community support. To learn more, please visit www.MilitaryYMCA.org.
The ASY San Diego strives to give back to military personnel and their family members to honor all the brave and serious sacrifices they make for each one of us every day. We do this through a variety of strategic programs that assist our families in overcoming the challenges of military life.
Blue Star Families is a non-partisan, non-profit organization created and run by real military families. We are committed to supporting one another through the unique challenges of military service regardless of rank, branch of service or physical location, and empowering military family members to create their best personal, professional and family life.
Military families are spread all over the world so Blue Star Families implements both online and chapter based outreach, initiatives, and events. Since its inception in 2008, BSF has grown and adapted to fit the needs of our community through incredibly impactful programs like Books on Bases, Blue Star Museums and Blue Star Spouse Networks. Spouses, children and other family members are pillars of strength but are not impervious to the stressors of more than a decade of war. Here are just a few of the ways BSF buoys the milfam community:
Blue Star Families also encourages the larger civilian population to lend a hand through Operation Honor Corps and Operation Appreciation simple but powerful ways to say thank you to service members and the family who stands beside them.
Visit www.bluestarfam.org to find out more information and locate a chapter near you.
Challenged Athletes Foundation's® (CAF) Operation Rebound® (OR) program strengthens the mental and physical well-being of veterans and first responders with permanent physical injuries by providing them opportunities to use sports and fitness to re-integrate into our communities and by empowering them through sports to lead productive, active and fulfilling lives. Since the program began in 2004, Operation Rebound has empowered more than 1,900 athletes with grants totaling over $2.3 million in funding.
Operation Rebound supports those who have served honorably through:
In 2011, ServiceNation hosted a convening of every major studio, network, talent agency, and guild in the entertainment industry to discuss veterans' issues. The result was a year-long discussion between many partners in Hollywood, at the Clinton Global Initiative domestic convening, and with the White House and other government entities. In a little more that a year, these conversations evolved into an unprecedented awareness and activation campaign led by the entire industry and aimed at changing the conversation in our country regarding veterans and military families. Got Your 6 - a campaign named for a military term meaning "I've got your back"-intends to take significant steps toward bridging the growing civilian-military divide in this country.
More than one million military service members will reenter civilian life over the next five years. In order to best inspire these individuals to success, the campaign works to ensure that they return home as civic assets and leaders who will reinvigorate our communities. Many Americans do not feel connected or comfortable with military and veteran culture, nor do they know what steps to take so show their respect and appreciation of those who serve our country in uniform. Got Your 6 focuses on the activation of the American public through six key pillars of veteran reintegration: jobs, education, health, housing, family, and leadership.
The entertainment industry is the catalyst for the campaign's message. Utilizing a multidimensional communications strategy, the industry leverages grass roots work being done by top-tier non-profits in communities across the country. This is a true collaborative effort that will use the best-in-class entities from the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
The campaign is run by an independent entertainment industry steering committee with one representative from every major studio, broadcast network, cable group, talent agency, and guild. To lead the activation campaign and serve as subject matter experts this group is partnering with America's best non-profits and coordinating with top government entities.
For more information visit www.gotyour6.org.
Helping Paws Military Appreciation Program was founded in October of 2013 by Craig J. Mohnacky, DVM, who wanted to give back to the San Diego community. Since its inception, Helping Paws, with the help of Mohnacky Animal Hospitals, has performed over 1000 no cost spay and neuter procedures to the San Diego military community.
Our mission is to give military members peace of mind concerning their pets and to strengthen the human/pet bond. We provide veterinary services that military families otherwise might find challenging to afford.
Helping Paws is a charitable fund open to active military and wounded warriors. To promote healthy pet lifestyles, we provide no cost spay and neuter procedures through our online voucher system. At our three hospitals we provide financial assistance to military members for help with their pet's unexpected or urgent health care needs. It is our mission that no pet should ever be surrendered to a shelter or worse yet, euthanized due to an economic consideration by any military family.
Ultimately, our goals with Helping Paws are:
In June 2015, Dr Mohnacky was recognized with the Channel 10 Leadership award for the Helping Paws Program. This award recognizes San Diego businesses that promote leadership by making San Diego a better place to live.
Visit our website www.helpingpawssandiego.org to learn more.
Navy Marine Corps Relief Society is a 501(c)(3) organization, and in 2014, the organization provided over $49 million in assistance to service members and families worldwide.
Purpose and philosophy
The Society provides financial assistance and education, as well as other programs and services, to members of the United States Navy and Marine Corps, their eligible family members, widows, and survivors. The Society also receives and manages donated funds to administer these programs and services.
Our main goal is to help each person who comes to us get support for their immediate needs. Our long-term mission is to help Sailors and Marines become financially self-sufficient by learning how to better manage their personal finances and prepare for unplanned expenses.
Continuing the Legacy
For over a century, the Society has expanded its services and programs to support the changing needs of service members and their families. Yet our support is still provided by people who care about making life better for Sailors and Marines. Some things never change.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of San Diego County's Operation Bigs is a one-to-one mentoring program for military children, the first of its kind in the nation. Mentoring provides an extra layer of support to local military families. The military lifestyle often presents many challenges for children and families such as frequent relocation, school transitions, separation from extended family, increased responsibility coupled with a sense of loss when a parent deploys and the physical and psychological stress faced when a parent returns from war. The program joins children with parents in the military to volunteer Bigs who are in the military, retired or civilian.
Since its launch in 2004, Operation Bigs has served more than 1,400 Navy and Marine Corps children at 8 sites throughout San Diego County and inspired the expansion of over 30 sites across the country. The need for caring, committed mentors to support the children of those who defend our country remains urgent.
North County/Camp Pendleton Operation Bigs program sites:
San Diego Operation Bigs program sites:
Learn more at: www.SDBigs.org/operationbigs
Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Operation Homefront was formed in February 2002. It was developed to support the families of deployed service members immediately following 9/11. Operation Homefront is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas, and has evolved into a major nonprofit. The organization currently provides services to military families across the nation with 23 locations serving 43 states. The national office handles cases in states that do not have their own local offices. The majority of our clients are the lowest-paid service members, the E-1 through E-6 enlisted ranks.
Through generous, widespread public support and a collaborative team of exceptional staff and volunteers, we aspire to become the provider of choice for emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors. Where there is a need we do not provide, we will partner with others for the benefit of our military families.VALUES:
Honor Patriotism and Service to Country: We believe those who wear our country's uniform do so with a sense of duty, knowing they support the causes of freedom. We serve by serving them and their families.
Do What's Right: We are committed to the highest standards of ethical conduct in all that we do. We believe that honesty and integrity engender trust, which is the cornerstone of providing our services. We are careful stewards of the resources provided by our donors. We strive to be good citizens and we take responsibility for our actions.
Respect Others: We recognize that our success as an enterprise depends on the talent, skills and expertise of our people and our ability to function as a tightly integrated team. We appreciate our diversity and believe that respect - for our colleagues, clients, partners, and all those with whom we interact - is an essential element of all positive and productive relationships.
Perform With Excellence: We understand the importance of our mission and the trust our clients and donors place in us. With this in mind, we strive to excel in every aspect of our activities and approach every challenge with a determination to succeed.
Operation Homefront provides direct services to alleviate a military family's or individual's actual/complete emergency financial burden, as well as counseling and/or recovery support. Emergency financial assistance is in the form of checks paid directly to mortgage lenders, auto mechanics, contractors, hospitals, doctors, dentists and other providers. Other emergency funding assistance, which an applicant receives within 24 to 72 hours, includes the following:
Emergency home repairs
Critical baby items: formula, food and diapers
Home and appliance repair
Furniture and household items
Local moving assistance
Wounded Warrior Transitional Family Housing
The target population is American military personnel and/or their families who have unmet needs due to financial hardship, death, injury, or physical or mental detriment as a result of service in Iraq or Afghanistan. These may include active duty, Reserve, National Guard and veteran service members. They are a diverse ethnic group (64 percent are minorities): approximately 20 percent are African-American; 5 percent Asian-American; 34 percent Hispanic/Latino; 5 percent Native American; and 36 percent Caucasian. Roughly 75 percent live at an income level 80 percent below the median income for the communities in which they reside.
Our Military Kids families are our neighbors, and they need our help. These are people we run into at the grocery store, parents we see at school functions and on the sports field. Reserve and National Guard parents make enormous sacrifices for our country every day. We need to minimize the sacrifices their children must make back at home.
To date, Our Military Kids has never denied a grant to an eligible child, thanks to the generosity of foundations, corporations and thousands of individuals. You are essential to helping the many children in need of extra support and attention during a parent's deployment or recovery from a severe injury.
Only 3.2% of 2010 revenue was spent to cover administrative and fundraising expenses for the Our Military Kids program. More than 95 cents of every dollar you donate will pay for the activities of a National Guard, Reserve, or Wounded Warrior child.
Our Military Kids cannot be successful without you. We appeal to you to join us in our mission of recognizing and supporting military children. Please be assured that your kindness and financial support has a significant and transformative impact. You can make a profound difference in the life of our littlest warriors - our military kids.
About National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI): NVTSI is an emerging San Diego-based 501(c)3 organization dedicated to assisting veterans in adjusting to civilian life and securing meaningful employment by combining best-practice performance social solutions and techniques. The organization provides returning service members and veterans with a social and career transition workshop program called REBOOT. NVTSI was established by a group of retired high-ranking Naval and Marine Corps officers and workforce development professionals who seek to fill a tremendous gap in the continuum of veteran services. Reboot is an innovative three-week workshop provided by the National Veterans Transition Services, Inc. (NVTSI) that helps veterans ease back into civilian life.
San Diego is home to the nation's largest number of veterans returning from wartime duty. Each year, about 28,000 veterans in San Diego leave the military 200,000 nationwide. With the conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, numbers leaving the service will increase. Statistics show that ex-military suffer from high jobless rates. Reboot gives San Diego's veterans the tools to combat these challenges and to succeed. For more information, visit http://www.nvtsi.org.
Mission Statement: The Semper Fi Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit set up to provide immediate financial support and quality of life solutions to our nation's injured and critically ill service members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families. We direct urgently needed resources to post-9/11 service members within 24-72 hours of request, as well as provide continuous assistance for those servicemen and women with perpetuating needs. The Semper Fi Fund is forever grateful to each of our supporters who share in our ongoing mission of "serving those who preserve our freedom."
Organization Summary: Since its inception in 2004, the Semper Fi Fund has transformed the lives of thousands of wounded service members and their families, providing millions of dollars in assistance. The basic ideal that drives our efforts is simple: as much as our nation's heroes have sacrificed, they deserve the best care and support available in their hour of need. Injuries are often severe, and the road to recovery can be long and costly. Beyond the staggering costs of hospitalization and treatment are related expenses, which pile up quickly: childcare, plane fare, other travel expenses, adaptive housing or transportation, specialized equipment, and more. The list goes on, and so do the bills, often stretching a family's budget to the breaking point. That's where we come in.
Our organization offers support in a variety of ways: Family Support, Specialized & Adaptive Equipment, Adaptive Housing, Education and Career Transition Assistance, Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury Support, America's Fund, Team Semper Fi, and more. Each area of support has a specific focus for directing assistance, with the overall goal of providing quality of life solutions to our nation's injured servicemen and women.
The Semper Fi Fund's streamlined structure keeps overhead very low because we realize that every dollar saved can be put to better use elsewhere. The American Institute of Philanthropy has given us an "A+" rating and Charity Navigator has given us their highest rating of "Four Stars." The Semper Fi Fund is committed to assisting service members throughout their recovery, which for many, is a lifetime. It may be tempting to think that once our servicemen and women are home, the work is finished. But the reality is, getting our veterans back to health is a process, and a lengthy one at that; this is why the Semper Fi Fund will be always be there to help our nation's heroes on their roads to recovery.
Please join us in our mission of "serving those who preserve our freedom." To learn more, please visit www.semperfifund.org, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.
Ask a Combat Marine what the three most important things they need to stay on mission and they'll tell you, their rifle, ammo and socks. Clean socks mean the difference between being able to keep up the operational tempo necessary to stay on mission. Socks for Heroes mission is to make sure that the Marines have this all important commodity. The Socks for Heroes project was started by the Parents of Lcpl Donald Hogan, posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009. Carla and Jim Hogan have shipped over 200,000 pairs of socks to Marine Infantry Battalions in a little over a year. You can help them help our Marines. To see how you can help, go to their website at http://scmsg.org/sponsors, or their Facebook page at http://facebook.com/socksforheroes.
If you are a Marine Infantryman in Afghanistan, you have a constant reality, you are spending an awful long time on your feet. Two five hour patrols a day, wading through canals, and tromping long miles through the desert in 120 degree heat are common in Helmand Province. What is not common is an opportunity to replenish clean socks. That is where a small, San Clemente based Charity, Socks for Heroes comes in. Socks for Heroes ships inexpensive disposable socks to Marine Infantry units who spend most of their time "outside the wire". In a little over a year, they have shipped over 100,000 pairs to over a dozen Marine units. Started by Gold Star Parents, Carla and Jim Hogan, to honor their son, Lcpl Donald Hogan, who was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions that led to his death in August of 2009. They honor his memory by caring for his Marine Brothers wherever they serve in harms way. You can learn more about Socks for Heroes by going to their website at http://scmsg.org/sponsors or their Facebook page at http://facebook/socksfoheroes.
Support the Enlisted Project (STEP) provides emergency financial and transition assistance grants to active duty and recently discharged enlisted military and their families.
Who We Serve
STEP provides emergency financial assistance to those in pay-grades E1 to E6 whether on active duty or within the first 12 months after honorable discharge who are experiencing times of financial hardship. Qualifying applicants must reside in one of the following California counties: San Diego, Orange, Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino, Riverside or Imperial.
Why We Serve
Southern California is home to one of the largest concentrations of military families in the world. It is also a region with one of the highest cost of living indexes in the country. STEP understands our junior and mid-grade enlisted personnel stationed here have limited budgets and sometimes find it difficult to make ends meet due to a temporary or unexpected financial hardship or crisis. STEP provides assistance directly from our headquarters in San Diego, California in the form of grants, not loans, to help alleviate unexpected burdens.
How to Apply
Visit our website at www.stepsocal.org and fill in the confidential online application for assistance. Emergency financial assistance categories include:
STEP is actively seeking:
Interested applicants may apply online at www.stepsocal.org.
The Mission Continues is the only national nonprofit organization challenging post-9/11 veterans to rebuild a sense of purpose through community service. Many veterans struggle to find the same purpose at home as they found in the mission, camaraderie and structure of the military. The Mission Continues does not offer charity; rather, we challenge returning service members to utilize their tremendous skills and leadership to continue serving our country at home. Through service, veterans find renewed strength and purpose while building stronger communities. Our mission is fueled by a deep belief that our veterans are assets whose leadership is needed now more than ever here at home.
The Mission Continues awards community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans, empowering them to transform their own lives by serving others and directly impact their communities. Mission Continues Fellows serve for six months at a local nonprofit organization addressing key educational, environmental or social issues. Each Fellow works to achieve one of three outcomes at the conclusion of the fellowship: full-time employment, pursuit of higher education or a permanent role of service.
At the culmination of the fellowship, each Fellow will lead a service project in his/her community, bringing veterans and civilians together in days of service nationwide. These projects are bridging the military-civilian divide, allowing veterans to feel more connected to their communities and helping civilians gain a better understanding of and appreciation for our men and women in uniform.
Want to join our ranks as a Fellow or a supporter? Learn more at www.missioncontinues.org.
The mission of the local USO San Diego is to enhance the quality of life of the U.S. Armed Forces personnel and their families worldwide and to create a cooperative relationship between U.S. military communities and involved or supporting civilian communities.
The goal of USO San Diego is to extend a sense of comfort in an unfamiliar place to all active duty military and their families. More than 250 volunteers give their time to assist in staffing both centers. These volunteers aid in ensuring American service men and women feel at home in San Diego, whether traveling or stationed here.
We are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, which receives virtually no government funding and minimal funding from our parent organization. USO San Diego is funded primarily through the generosity of individuals, businesses, organizations, and foundations within the San Diego community. The funds raised remain right here in San Diego to directly support programs and vital services we provide to our military and their families.
Our Downtown and C. Neil Ash Airport Centers are open 365 days a year and serve more than 190,000 patrons annually. USO San Diego continues to offer support and entertainment to those who serve our nation with the same enthusiasm that it did at its opening in 1941. Whether it's a quiet place to go for rest and relaxation, movies and refreshments, or a friendly face, USO San Diego consistently delivers its special brand of service to the military -- being a true home away from home.
Founded in 1989, United Through Reading is the nation's first nonprofit to promote the read-aloud experience for separated military families. United Through Reading offers deployed parents the opportunity to be video-recorded reading storybooks to their children which eases the stress of separation, maintains positive emotional connections and cultivates a love of reading. At nearly 200 recording locations worldwide, Marines, Soldiers and Sailors, National Guard, Reservists and Airmen, can read to their children from units on ships, in tents in Afghanistan, on bases and installations around the world and at 70 USO centers worldwide. Over one and a half million military parents, spouses and children have benefited from the program since its inception.
"Military commands love United Through Reading," said Sally Ann Zoll, Ed. D., chief executive officer of United Through Reading. "It minimizes deployment miles and helps military personnel parent from afar. The reassurance of seeing the deployed mommy or daddy reading a storybook provides immense relief to the child and the spouse at home. The morale of the whole family is boosted!" Through this unique program, which is available directly through military commands and at numerous USOs throughout the world, deployed military service members get a chance to share their love and support, while children receive essential communication while building literacy skills.
United Through Reading recently received its fifth consecutive Four-Star rating from Charity Navigator, the nation's leading charity rating agency. Only 4% of charities have received five consecutive four-star ratings, the highest awarded rating from Charity Navigator. We're proud to be among them.
In December 2011, United Through Reading kicked off its support of First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden's Joining Forces Initiative with a holiday party at the Naval Observatory in Washington DC. We are proud to be a part of this comprehensive national initiative to mobilize all sectors of society to give our service members and their families the opportunities and support they have earned. Our commitment to Joining Forces is to double our support of the Army and National Guard over the next two years.
For more information, visit www.unitedthroughreading.org or call (858) 481-7323. United Through Reading can also be found on Facebook and @UnitedTReading on Twitter.