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The Green Beret Foundation: Caring for Green Berets and their families

Article by George W. Bush Presidential Center May 1, 2014 //   7 minute read

The George W. Bush Institute’s fourth annual Warrior 100K bike ride is being held this week in Crawford, Texas. The Institute selected 16 warriors as riders for the May 1 -3 mountain bike ride at President and Mrs. Bush’s Prairie Chapel Ranch.  In turn, the military personnel nominated organizations that have helped their recovery,  transition and reintegration. The military service organizations being highlighted this year are Hire Heroes USA, the Green Beret Foundation, and Wasatch Adaptive Sports 

The Bush Institute blog asked each organization to describe their work, their accomplishments and their  obstacles. Here is how the Green Beret Foundation answered our  questions:

What do you do – and why do you do it?

The Green Beret Foundation provides support to wounded, ill and injured Green Berets, as well as to their families and the families of those Green Berets killed-in-action. 

We provide support in several ways:

We help Green Berets and their families advocate for their needs, find financial resources and get transition support as they move from the military to civilian careers. Our services range from offering business consulting to securing health care to lining up educational scholarships.

We began our work in 2009 and have met critical needs for hundreds of Green Berets and their families. Since the foundation received its 501(c)3 status in February 2010, we have financially supported over 500 Green Berets and their families. In addition to providing financial support to our Green Berets and families, we have advocated for more than 1,000 in our community by way of networking, business consulting, and mentoring. 

We often do this in challenging environments.  We deal with many complicated family dynamics in stressful situations.  Many of these experiences are the most traumatic, tough times these people will face.  We work to ensure that the appropriate family members are at the bedside, that they are set up to live in these long and stressful situations and that they are able to support their Green Beret to ensure he is progressing in the best way possible.

Each member of our board of directors is a Green Beret who has commanded wounded Green Berets or has been wounded themselves.  Our executive director is the wife of a severely wounded Green Beret. She has intimate and personal experience with the care system and the obstacles Green Beret families face. 

In fact, each of our directors and staff has a personal interest in caring for Green Berets and their families. We understand personally the need for a sustainable legacy.

What impact are you having? 

The Green Beret Foundation is having a positive and lasting impact on not only Green Berets, but also their families.  We have managed to support hundreds with very little resources in a very short amount of time.

As an example, we provide acute and long-term support for our Green Berets and their families by reacting immediately when a traumatically-injured Green Beret is MEDEVAC’d out of theater.  Once the Green Beret is stabilized, we develop long-term plans for support for the Green Beret and his family.

Most of these injuries are severe and have complications. So, this work requires finding them a place to live, moving belongings, and locating medical equipment and therapies that are not covered by military insurance. We help the soldier and their family with numerous other moving parts as they navigate through the healing process.

We are now able to financially support our Green Beret community more than when we started, but there is more to this impact than the monetary aspect. We provide comprehensive support to the Green Beret community.

The idea that there is an organization specifically for Green Berets and their families has re-energized very tired people and provided some sense of comfort for the Green Beret and his spouse.

The most effective way to understand roadblocks, obstacles and progress of our Green Berets is to listen to the caregiver - that person who knew the Green Beret before and after injury.  One way we do this is through our Steel Magnolias caregiver group.  We also provide a trusting environment for spouses, survivors and caregivers. This is a place where resources are shared and mentorship is delivered.

We started with nothing other than a dedicated board of Green Berets and a Green Beret wife.  We set short-range targets such as providing support to our traumatically wounded as they were MEDEVAC’d out of theater. We do through a $1,000 casualty care check and coverage for any gaps in managing their lives during this very stressful time.

We have expanded our support deliberately and methodically. We have done so to ensure our network of people and financial resources are being used appropriately.

What stands in the way for progress for you? 

Three ideas control a non-profit organization: money, or the lack of it; inadequate leadership; and negative perceptions, whether real or perceived.

Our foundation has no problem with its leadership. The lack of money will always keep a non-profit from progressing, if growth is the objective.

Growth certainly is our objective. We serve approximately 40 percent of our community. The rest are hard to reach because of financial and human resource constraints.

We have taken great care to manage perceptions regarding inflated salaries and a large staff. As a result, we often are in a reactive mode when delivering our programs and services. This has a tendency to burn folks out.

Our skeleton staff has streamlined processes to allow for a “work smart, not hard” mindset. Still, we are behind the curve.  

We need to cautiously and methodically expand our human resources so we are more proactive in the way we deliver and expand our programs and services. We want to make sure there are no more gaps in the community we serve.

We also need to expand our network and ensure that the mission of the Green Berets is known and understood by the public.  We need assistance in helping the public understand the Green Beret mission.

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