WHAT WE DO

The military provides world-class medical care for injured service members. But sometimes gaps open up between the support the military can provide, and the support the injured and their families need.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund helps fill the gaps throughout the recovery process, from hospital to hometown.

Whether they’re recovering in the Washington, DC, area at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, or back in their home communities, YRF provides real support for real heroes.


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HOSPITAL-BASED PROGRAMS

VETERAN & FAMILY PROGRAMS

When a service member is injured, a family member or close friend leaves home to come help with the recovery, often for a year or longer. YRF’s FAMILY CAREGIVER PROGRAM has pioneered support for caregivers. We’re still one of the only service organizations to offer childcare and family-oriented activities, plus stress-relieving massages and spa visits, mutually supportive dinners out, and more — all at no charge.

We also provide free HOTEL ROOMS for visiting relatives desperate to be at the side of their injured loved ones.

We provide free RENTAL CARS and TAXI RIDES to give them some freedom and control at a time when they control very little.

As injured service members recover and become outpatients, we provide free, furnished APARTMENTS for families who otherwise would have to endure the added stress of separation or crowding into a hotel room.

Meanwhile, after a life-changing injury, our innovative MENTORING PROGRAM helps injured service members start planning for the future, with education and career guidance, networking, and job shadowing that opens doors.

Yellow Ribbon Fund volunteers and donors also make it possible for the injured and their families to enjoy sporting and cultural events, tours, outings, and get-togethers. Combined with those of the Family Caregiver Program, we organize MORE THAN 100 ACTIVITIES every year.

These events are more than just fun — they’re an important part of the healing process. YRF activities offer stress-reducing breaks from the grueling rigors of recovery, while reducing isolation, nurturing family relationships, facilitating mutual support, and building confidence.

After injured veterans return home, our AMBASSADOR PROGRAM connects them with volunteers all over the country. These “ambassadors” provide one-on-one support to help them build new lives and ensure no one falls through gaps in community safety nets. If needed, ambassadors can even refer veterans and their families to YRF-funded legal services.(Read the Ambassador Program brochure.)

Veterans facing more complex issues receive additional support from YRF’s WELLNESS PROGRAM. Our staff social worker help empower them to find short- and long-term solutions to financial, physical, emotional, legal, and family challenges. Financial problems and post-traumatic stress are the top two issues facing those in need.

We’re also building a supportive community of veterans in partnership with Blue Titan Fitness of Rockaway, NJ. The veteran athlete ambassadors on YRF’s TAKING UP FITNESS (TUF) TEAM have personally experienced the healing power of community fitness, and now inspire and mentor their fellow vets. (Visit the TUF Team website.)

In addition, our FAMILY CAREGIVER PROGRAM continues to provide support to the caregivers of injured veterans after they return home. Retreats and outings for mutual support, VA guidance, scholarships, and career mentoring help caregivers adapt to their new role.

Latest News on
Hospital-Based Programs:

“Still a necessary tradition: YRF Christmas parties at Walter Reed & Ft Belvoir”

Latest News on
Veteran & Family Programs:

“Scholarships help wounded warrriors, spouses & caregivers move ahead”

Santa poses with a wounded warrior family at Ft Belvoir.

Santa poses with a wounded warrior family at Ft Belvoir.

Watch the 1-minute video

The Yellow Ribbon Fund’s holiday tradition continues to be needed at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and Ft Belvkoir Community Hospital in nearby northern Virginia.

Though America’s deployed troops have left the headlines, they’re still out there serving. The wounded, ill, and injured still arrive at Walter Reed and Ft Belvoir. There are fewer of them, but their injuries are still severe, their recoveries are still long and arduous, and they and their family caregivers and children are still far from home during the holiday season.

And the Yellow Ribbon Fund is still there to lift their spirits.

At Walter Reed, Vito and Santa go way back.

At Walter Reed, Vito and Santa go way back.

YRF board member Vito A. Pampalona hosted the first Uncle Vito’s Christmas Party at Walter Reed in 2003. Since then, the event has grown to three parties at two military facilities, serving hundreds of injured service members and their families every year.

Ashley hands out gift bags at the Ft Belvoir party.

Ashley hands out gift bags at the Ft Belvoir party.

YRF events director Ashley Keene got this year’s parties started at Walter Reed, with a quiet celebration on the ward where psychologically injured service members receive treatment for the invisible wounds of war. They ate pizza and opened their gift bags, then joined in a raffle with prizes for everyone. Some said they’d never won anything before. The medical staff said some had never smiled before. For a few of those patients, our party gave them the confidence to take a big step: The next day they left the ward to attend the next party.

YRF volunteers decorated occupational therapy and the MATC, where amputees work out.

YRF volunteers decorated occupational therapy and the MATC, where amputees work out.

As usual it was held in the Military Advanced Training Center (MATC), which is big enough to hold a crowd. The crowd rocked out to the MusiCorps Wounded Warrior Band, whose members learned or relearned their instruments during their recoveries at Walter Reed.

MusiCorps has been mentored by musicians from Pink Floyd's Roger Waters to cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and performed at the Kennedy Center, Madison Square Garden, and the Grand Ole Opry.

MusiCorps has been mentored by musicians from Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters to cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and performed at the Kennedy Center, Madison Square Garden, and the Grand Ole Opry.

At Walter Reed, Lidos provided enough pizza at a discount to feed more than 100.

YRF volunteers serve the pizza that Lidos provided at a discount for the party at Walter Reed.

There was more pizza, more raffle prizes with an Apple watch as the grand prize, and more gift bags for everyone, including special bags for caregivers filled with self-care items from Bath & Body Works. Santa posed for photos with the kids. Each child got to pick out a toy from the sleighful donated by generous YRF supporters.

Volunteer Megan Eckhart, who assisted at all 3 parties, helps a small guest choose a toy donated by generous YRF supporters -- apparently a very hard choice.

Volunteer Megan Eckhart, who assisted at all 3 parties, helps a small guest choose her gift toy — apparently a very hard choice.

IRS employees were among the Individuals and groups who contributed to the YRF Toy Drive.

IRS employees were among the individuals and groups who had contributed to the YRF Toy Drive.

A day later, the party moved on to the Ft Belvoir Soldier and Family Assistance Center, next door to the Ft Belvoir Community Hospital.

Uncle VIto himself delivers a raffle prize to a winner at Ft Belvoir.

Uncle Vito himself delivers a raffle prize to a winner. Prizes included Capitals hockey and Wizards basketball tickets, donated by Monumental Sports.

That brought the total number of Uncle Vito’s Christmas Parties to 23, which over the years have delivered holiday cheer to thousands of injured service members and their families.

The Italian donated all the pizza served at Ft Belvoir.

The Italian Store donated all the pizza served by YRF volunteers at the Belvoir party.

This year, more than 20 YRF volunteers helped host and decorate. Scores of YRF supporters donated enough new, unwrapped toys for every child. Businesses contributed food and giveaways. With their help, for as long as it’s necessary, the Yellow Ribbon Fund will be there to honor and support our injured heroes and their families.

Happy holidays from the Yellow Ribbon Fund!

Happy holidays from the Yellow Ribbon Fund!

Scholarship recipients pursue their degrees online.

Scholarship recipients pursue their degrees online.

Applications are now being accepted for full-ride scholarships to Colorado Technical University (CTU), in collaboration with the Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF). Fifty scholarships will be given to injured service members, their spouses, and their non-medical attendants or caregivers. See if you qualify and apply before July 31, 2016.

After a life-changing injury on the battlefield, education can give injured service members control over some of those changes. The same is true for the spouses, who often give up their jobs and move far from home, dropping everything to care for the ones they love.

That’s why YRF participates in CTU’s Wounded Warrior Scholarship program, with YRF board member Vito A. Pampalona and executive director Mark Robbins serving on the scholarship selection boards. CTU is particularly well-suited to meet the unique educational needs of injured troops and veterans, and their spouses and caregivers, because it offers online education.

“Their days were already filled with… therapy, and many were unable to get to class,” according to Jim Hendrickson, vice president of CTU’s department of military education and a major in the Air Force Reserves. “Others did not want to draw attention to their serious wounds. Still others were nervous about being in small, confined classrooms with strangers — a common side effect of post-traumatic stress.”

Education empowers spouses and caregivers, who may also have become the primary breadwinner.

Education empowers spouses and caregivers, who may also have become the primary breadwinner.

An online education gives students the option to study when and where they’re able. This year, 50 wounded warriors and their spouses and caregivers received CTU scholarships.

“Being able to complete my general studies degree online provides the flexibility I need to care for my child and my husband, who is an amputee,” according to past scholarship recipient Ashley Toppin. “With my husband’s injuries, we’re not sure when he’ll be able to go back to work. I want to provide the best for him, and the way to do that is through an education.”

The Yellow Ribbon Fund is proud to be part of a scholarship program that empowers positive change.