2018-01-01 Exec. Dir. Report

It is always hard to lose a good friend. But, on 7 November 2017, the River Rat and AWCF community, as well as myself,  lost a great friend and icon for our mission and organizations. On that morning, Carole Thompson flew west. Carole had been a strong supporter and builder of the San Antonio pack that has grown into one of the strongest packs among us. She was instrumental in creating the program that the AWCF operates at the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC). This has evolved into the largest program that the AWCF has. Along with that, Carole was the editor of the MIG SWEEP for many years and helped build that into the publication that you see today. I had the honor and privilege, as CINC Rat, to present Carole with her full fledged membership into the River Rats. She was one of the earliest of the women to be given what we called the three letter full membership. We will miss Carole very much. We will also enjoy the things that she gave us when she was able.

In staying with the San Antonio activities, I am happy to report that we passed the $3 Million milestone in September in grants and aid that the AWCF has given to the families at the SAMMC. This has been truly remarkable under the leadership of Gary Baber. This year, the AWCF is preparing to provide around $35,000.00 to about 50 families, for 125 children, for our Christmas Hope program, led by Rick Zehrer. We will be providing grants of $600.00, $850.00 and $1,100.00 to families with 1, 2 or more children respectively. This is down from last year when we provided 60 families $40,000.00. This is a good sign because it means that we have fewer Wounded Warriors in the hospital. We have been operating this program for over 10 tears and have raised more than $900,000.00 to support Christmas Hope and other programs for the children of the Wounded Warriors.

Our biggest effort over the past months has been in helping the families of active military, National Guard, Reserve, and retired who have been impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Working with the National Guard Headquarters of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as well as other active and reserve military agencies, the AWCF has provided $150,000.00 to over 200 families that lost homes and property because of the hurricanes. Many of you, River Rats, contributed to that fund. On behalf of all of us at the AWCF, I offer my sincerest thanks for the support.

In the DC area, at Fort Belvoir and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC), or as we call it, Walter Reed Bethesda (WRB), we have continued our support for the Wounded Warriors and their families. Our biggest effort this fall has been to provide Thanksgiving dinners to 15 families who are staying in the various facilities at WRB. We provide containers with turkey, ham or roast beef with all the trimmings plus an apple or pumpkin pie for desert. All the family has to do is heat it up. This has been organized by Gene Russell. We plan to have the same program set up for Christmas. This has been an ongoing program for the past 6 years.

Lastly, it is with great pride that I inform you of the AWCF earning its 5th consecutive 4 Star rating from Charity Navigator.


Therapeutic Riding Program FAQ

Are there any programs that would potentially benefit our community since our services are free?
ANSWER – Yes. AWCF support may be by cost per child/lesson (a personal scholarship) or, in the case of those TROs that do not charge participants, a blanket award to the Therapeutic Riding Center (TRC); all payments/donations are made directly to the TRC. Completion of the TRP Application is required for all participants.
How might a military family with a disabled child be reviewed for funding?
ANSWER – Military rank or branch of service is not an issue. The AWCF makes its decision solely on each child’s situation, medical prognosis and “need.” The AWCF reserves the right to verify the military status of the sponsor(s) and dependent status of the child involved, the medical condition of the child and the “need.”
Does your program provide support for military dependent children that do not have a diagnosed disability?
ANSWER – No, the AWCF TRP is designed to assist military dependent children receive disability therapy not covered by the traditional military service “safety-nets,” e.g. CHAMPUS, TRICARE, etc.
What is the advance timeline that they would need to apply?
ANSWER – Whenever a child is approved by the TRC for participation or is already participating, we will accept a completed TRP application and begin the process for possible funding. The AWCF approval process takes approximately 2-3 weeks to be completed and the Therapeutic Riding Center/family notified of whatever support is approved.
Is there a specific format?
ANSWER – Yes, please review our TRP Application.
Do you share participant information with anyone other than the AWCF, the Therapeutic Riding Center and family involved?
ANSWER – No. As with all AWCF philanthropic activities, all information is dealt with on a confidential basis unless, on a voluntary basis, written permission of all parties is obtained.
We are an EFMH (Equine Facilitated Mental Health) program, and the majority of our riders are able bodied but wrestling with many issues. Would your program be able to sponsor scholarship for those students if they qualified?
ANSWER – Probably not, as our program is not currently designed to support “able-bodied” children. However, our medical staff will review a child’s condition diagnosis/ prognosis statement, completed by his/her doctor, and make a determination of eligibility.
Some of our students are from families so broken apart that there is no contact between parents. Do you have access to military service information if the fathers are unreachable to fill out forms about their service history?
ANSWER – No, we do not have such a capability but the parent caring for the child should be able to provide sufficient information for our review. Having a “regular” family, i.e., not divorced/separated/etc, does not qualify nor disqualify a needy child from participating in our program.