Today’s article comes to you from Breach-Bang-Clear contributor Anthony Winegar. We reckon it’s a great way to begin Warrior Care Month (#WarriorCareMonth). This is SOC-F, a charity we institutionally stand behind. It’s easy to post pro-veteran memes on social media and hit like – not quite so simple to make the effort to write a check, send some money, do something with your hands. Make that effort. Mad Duo
“We got it. Put her on the bird!” — The Philanthropy of the Special Operations Care Fund
As I looked at the rough outline of the bearded facial profile superimposed on a Magpul Pmag and now frozen on my computer screen, I immediately realized that it was a memorial. Chief Petty Officer Brett Shadle, a.k.a Shady, had only days before died in a parachute accident in Mesa, Arizona. I did not know him personally, but his death’s impact on a small group of dedicated professionals and acquaintances was immediately apparent. In a few short weeks, through generous donations of time and material from several industry powerhouses, one of the SOCF founders named David Kramer along with his tight knit crew of superheroes were able to turn some Pmags with Shady’s face on them into $30K worth of help for some quiet professionals.
The Special Operations Care Fund (SOCF) is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to generating philanthropy and funding for wounded Special Operations personnel and the loved ones of the deceased. SOCF is based in Atlanta and thus removed from the larger military-industrial complex where the charity organization could easily get lost in the shuffle. Additionally, with a small board of four members (none of whom are former military), the organization can move with the same quickness and voracity that makes their beneficiaries such formidable powerhouses. For example, one of the board members got a late-night phone call asking for financial assistance for an SOF family in need. That board member made three phone calls, and the family received the money early the following morning. Simply put, the decision-making process for distributing the money is sleek, simple, and translates into immediate action.
SOCF is 100% volunteer, and when it comes to charities, this is huge. The organization has no overhead costs, no labor costs, and relies on volunteers and philanthropic donations. The only expenses they have are during times when pro-bono just isn’t possible, such as occasional catering costs, etc. SOCF also tries to stay in tempo with the needs of the community. When the time is right for an elegant meal (read: $$$$ per plate, Iron Chef cooked meals, and real cloth napkins), the event is set up to give the operators in attendance a chance to be themselves in a quiet atmosphere. Sometimes, however, there is a need for bigger but still intimate crowds and action-guy like activities such as clay pigeon shooting, barbecue, and auctions. Some of the items I’ve seen (and bid for…sorry honey) have never been seen elsewhere. And keep in mind that the auctioned items are also donated.
Because of the secrecy requirements of so many of the beneficiaries, we can never know the full details of the services that are provided to the men and women of the community. There are, however, glimpses into that world that should not go untold. One of those stories involves Grace White, a beautiful little girl (and daughter of a special operations community member) who is battling Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). Grace is a fighter, full of spunk and determined to live life to its fullest. SOCF stepped up to help make her even stronger by providing a medical flight in a flying hospital room from North Carolina to Ohio for treatment. Their answer to the request was immediate and decisive: “We got it. Put her on the bird!”
So why give money to SOCF? There’s an old saying in CQB: “we die in the gaps.” While referring to violent close-quarters combat, it equally applies to the aftermath and the “gaps” in medical care that the Department of Veterans Affairs may not be able to meet. In many cases, military personnel are forced to turn to the civilian sector to address those deficiencies in care. Lacking insurance coverage, Caring Bridge and GoFundMe accounts have become alternative funding sources. Enter SOCF, who has identified an area where there is no existing 501 (c) 3 and has filled that gap. Though they donate many of their funds to organizations such as the Unit Scholarship Fund, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Lone Survivor Foundation, the group also keeps a reserve on hand for emergencies like the one described above. From medical flights to barometric chamber treatments for those with Traumatic Brain Injury, SOCF has given away a quarter of a million dollars.
SOCF and its generosity provide a distinct and noticeable difference in the lives of men and women who simply cannot, or will not, always be able to ask for help. I am a proud volunteer when asked to be so, and I have seen the transformation in some of the warriors first hand. I will always be personally grateful to the organization for what they have done for some of my friends. If writing is worth something, I am happy that I have found something to give. I encourage each and every one of you to find the same.
For more information, or to directly donate, visit SOCF online here.