2015 Winners

Overall Winning Entry

$50,000 AWARD

Operation Mend

UCLA Operation Mend, Los Angeles, CA

Established in 2007, Operation Mend is a unique public-private partnership that connects the best of the military’s resources with the skills of exceptional surgical and medical specialists at UCLA to provide a collaborative and comprehensive approach to healing wounded post-9/11 service members. Operation Mend’s success has been marked not only through its surgical achievements, but also through its embedded psychological health and community support programs for the service member/veteran and his or her family. All services are provided at no cost to the participants, and the team takes incredible pride in tailoring each patient’s care and providing a truly seamless experience to optimize healing—body, mind, and spirit. For more information, contact Melissa MacRae (mmacrae@support.ucla.edu) or visit https://www.uclahealth.org/programs/operationmend

$30,000 AWARD

Zero Day Innovation Center

Zero Day, Inc., Dewitt, MI

Zero Day provides necessary training and support services for Veterans toward their attainment of a self-sufficient and independent lifestyle. This includes a plan for life’s basic needs including employment, housing, transportation and health care. Zero Day functions as a community development entity, a job incubator, and a provider of quality affordable housing. We provide ACCREDITED vocational training, life skills mentoring, licensed therapy support, job coaching and placement, as well as entrepreneurial opportunities for Veterans to become business owners. For more information, contact Steve Sandstedt (stevelsand@aol.com) or visit www.zero-day.us.

Adaptive Vans Award Program

Helping Our Military Heroes, Easton, CT

Help our Military Heroes (HOMH) is dedicated to providing fully equipped, adaptive minivans to the country’s most severely wounded, injured and ill service men and women who sustained their injuries while on active duty since the Iraq and Afghanistan wars began. HOMH is donation driven; all non-program expenses are paid by its founding and board members, which means 100% of public donations go toward the purchase of modifies minivans for our heroes, as well as support for other programs that help the wounded and injured. For more information, contact Ted Hollander (ted.hollander@helpourmilitaryheroes.org) or visit www.helpourmilitaryheroes.org.

Kids’ Club

Southwestern Illinois College Foundation, Belleville, IL

Recognizing that veterans’ benefits may not be sufficient to cover childcare costs for nontraditional students, Southwestern Illinois College and Kids’ Club will provide free childcare services for military parents who are enrolled in college. Children will participate in high quality, research- based programs while their parents attend college classes to advance their career prospects. Family events and parenting workshops will also be provided on campus. Parents and children will have access to free tutoring to help overcome any academic challenges. For more information, contact Suzette Hechst (suzette.hechst@swic.edu).

Tech for Troops Project

Tech for Troops Project, Richmond, VA

Tech For Troops Project (T4TP) provides refurbished computers to veterans, enabling them to connect with employers and develop critical computer skills. Veterans receive free computers through other local non-profits that partner with Tech For Troops Project in the Central VA Region. The only requirement is the individual is a veteran and in need of a computer. In addition to providing computers, Tech For Troops Project hires veteran to support the growing demand of recipients as well as provide technical training to local veterans. Technology donations to Tech For Troops Project are evaluated for reuse for veterans and are also recycled. Keeping usable computers out of landfills and recycling all unusable electronics have benefited the local environment as well as provided funding to support the organization. Volunteer driven, T4TP was initiated after a Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) business student saw first-hand veterans struggling to find work after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program has been expanded to help all Central VA veterans, giving them a tool to connect with family, benefit services and employment. Ultimately, the goal is to help a veteran reach out and find a better quality of life. For more information visit https://techfortroops.org.

A Home for Healing

Warriors & Quiet Waters Foundation, Bozeman, MT

Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation (WQW) serves the nation's traumatically combat-injured OIF/OEF/OND veterans and active service members experiencing challenges with mental health, relationships, transitioning to civilian life, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries. At the heart of WQW's therapeutic fly fishing programs is the lodging out of which they are based. With ADA-compatible renovations, a permanent Home for Healing ensures warriors and their spouses get the proper level of comfort and security in which to promote healing and rebuild resilience in a setting far removed from hospitals, doctors, and the rigors of combat. A permanent home eliminates the occurrence of qualified participants being told to "reapply next year" at a time in their lives when intervention may literally be key to their survival. For more information, contact Emily Wallace (emily@warriorsandquietwaters.org) or visit www.warriorsandquietwaters.org.