The military provides world-class care while injured service members are in the hospital. 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 bridge the gaps while they’re recovering in the Washington, DC, area at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital.

Even after they return to their hometowns, YRF continues to help.





The Yellow Ribbon Fund provides free
HOTEL ROOMS for visiting relatives desperate to be at the side of their injured loved ones.

We provide free
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.

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, empowering horseback rides, and more — all at no charge.

Meanwhile, after a life-changing injury, our innovative MENTORING PROGRAM helps injured service members build new lives through education and career guidance, networking, and job shadowing that opens doors.

After injured veterans return home, our AMBASSADOR PROGRAM connects them with volunteers all over the country. These “ambassadors” provide one-on-one support to ensure no one falls through gaps in community safety nets. (Read the program brochure.)

And when injured service members need an advocate to stand up for them, VOLUNTEER LAWYERS FOR VETERANS provide pro bono legal services.

Yellow Ribbon Fund volunteers and donors make it possible for injured service members and their families to enjoy sporting and cultural events, tours, outings, and get-togethers — 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, and building confidence.

Latest News on
Housing & Transportation:

“YRF bus fills gap for sled hockey team”

Latest News on
Support Programs:

“YRF is in it for the long haul”

Latest News on
Activities & Events:

“Roundup: The year in events”

The wives of two USA Warriors players hold the YRF banner at a championship in Connecticut.

The USA Warriors sled hockey team needed to get to an ice rink in Newington, Conn., so they could participate in a championship. The team members were outpatients at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. But since Walter Reed no longer provided bus service for trips like that, they had no way to get there.

So they turned to the Yellow Ribbon Fund for help. YRF’s housing and transportation director, Diane Shoemaker, chartered a wheelchair accessible bus with a friendly driver for the overnight trip.

Each year, YRF charters buses in a variety of sizes for 50+ outings, enabling injured troops and families to get away from the hospital.

Afterward, the trip organizer sent Diane a picture of the team, telling her the guys had a great time.

Diane responded, “The smiles on their faces make our jobs worthwhile! These amputees have gone through a lot of pain and effort to get back to where they are today. I am so glad that YRF was there to help out by filling the gap in bus service. We’re focused on making it work.”

These injured veterans volunteer with YRF to encourage their fellow vets to heal through community fitness.

The young, combat-wounded veteran was under tremendous stress.

The wounds that ended his military career still caused him pain. He suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He was in financial trouble. He saw no way out.

Last July, only a month after his discharge from the military, he came apart in a PTSD-driven outburst and threatened to kill himself. He was arrested, charged with wanton endangerment, and jailed on $500,000 bond – all this in a state far from home. He had no access to the VA or the proper medications for PTSD and pain management. His father was fighting cancer and his family had no money. His public defender didn’t understand the needs of veterans in his situation.

His desperate mother contacted every organization she could think of that might be able to help. The one that did: The Yellow Ribbon Fund’s Ambassador Program.

As YRF enters its tenth year of filling gaps in services, this young veteran is the new face of the injured service members who need and deserve our help going forward.

A decade earlier, YRF started out providing free hotel rooms, rental cars, and cab rides to the families who rushed to Walter Reed to be with injured loved ones fresh from the battlefield. Because the severe injuries of today’s wars often require years of outpatient recovery, YRF’s services soon expanded to support injured troops and their families during that time, too. Eventually, the injured vets returned to their hometowns to build new lives. But without their battle buddies, many found themselves with no support network. To fill that gap, YRF launched the Ambassador Program in 2011.

Program director Amanda Basek began with the list of thousands of injured veterans and family caregivers who’d been served by YRF and were now back home. One by one, she called them all. Some were doing fine, but some were not. The brother of one struggling veteran told Amanda, “It’s like a prayer was answered for me the day I received the phone call from you.”

For those who needed it, Amanda could offer hands-on help because she was recruiting a nationwide network of volunteer “ambassadors”.

“They assist with job hunts, college applications, VA paperwork, and referrals to free legal or social services,” she explains. “Sometimes they simply serve as a listening ear and watch for signs of depression.” Recently, veteran athletes, many of them combat-injured, began joining the volunteer network as members of the TUF Team.

Ambassador Program director Amanda Basek and veteran athlete ambassadors attend community sports events to raise awareness and reach out to physically and psychologically wounded veterans.

The word on YRF is getting around. Increasingly, Amanda is hearing from people who are new to YRF – like the mother whose son was in jail. Amanda connected her with YRF ambassadors Dave and Rebecca Coatsworth.

They quickly got to work, with backup from Amanda and social worker Nicole Treiber, YRF’s Wellness Program director. Dave took the lead, working with the veteran’s mom, his public defender, the VA admissions office, and the jail’s medical department to build his support network. For months, Dave and Rebecca churned out emails and phone calls on the young veteran’s behalf. When he was finally released from jail, Dave was instrumental in securing permission for him to return to his home state to be near his mom for support. Dave also helped him find housing.

Among the brave Americans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, many will be recovering for years to come. Nearly 20 percent suffer from major depression, anxiety, or PTSD. A quarter million are dealing with a traumatic brain injury. Fifty thousand were physically wounded. Looking ahead to our next ten years and beyond, the Yellow Ribbon Fund is proud to continue filling the gaps, wherever they may be.

Daytrip to New York City with VIP visit to a taping of “The Colbert Report”

Each year, YRF organizes more than 100 events and outings for Walter Reed, Ft Belvoir, and the Ft Campbell area.

Outing to the Emerald Society Fishing Tournament

While some are designed specifically for family caregivers or their children, others, like the sampling of events highlighted here, are arranged for injured service members, either on their own…

Line dancing during Club Night at Ft Belvoir Community Hospital

…with their caregivers…

Halloween Party at Walter Reed

…or with their whole families.

Casino Night at Ft Belvoir Community Hospital

YRF outings and social events are more than just fun and games.

Outing to a Baltimore Orioles game

They’re also mental health breaks from the grueling recovery process, both for outpatients…

Volunteers serving at Pizza Night on an inpatient ward at Walter Reed

…and inpatients who cannot get away.

Civil War Battlefield Tours – Gettysburg

They nurture relationships that must endure the stresses of that process.

Outing to a Baltimore Ravens game

They build confidence as injured service members learn how to get around, deal with stares, and other challenges.

Volunteers serving at an Ice Cream Social at Walter Reed

And when our volunteers get involved, YRF events build bridges between civilians and the military community. That’s important in the long-term, since those who are severely injured will need the support of their fellow Americans long after they leave the military.

Super Bowl Party at Walter Reed

Karaoke at Walter Reed

Whiz Quiz trivia game at Ft Belvoir Community Hospital

Wine Tasting at Walter Reed

Cinco de Mayo at Ft Belvoir Community Hospital

YRF-chartered bus taking wounded warriors to a Welcome Home Dinner

Outing to a Crab Feast

Cookouts on the YRF-built BBQ patio at Walter Reed

End of Summer Bash at Walter Reed

Retirement Parties for medically retiring wounded warriors

Outing to a Washington Redskins game

Thanksgiving at Ft Belvoir Community Hospital & Walter Reed

A YRF-chartered bus took Walter Reed’s wounded warrior sled hockey team to an out-of-state championship tournament

4 Christmas Parties at Walter Reed, Ft Belvoir Community Hospital, & the Ft Campbell area