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:

“Mentoring helps turn dreams into reality”

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.”

SGT Keith Serpans was interested in studying nursing, so YRF’s Bob Talbot helped him explore that option.

Army SGT Evan Cole was still in a wheelchair recovering from combat injuries when he first met YRF’s mentoring director Bob Talbot at Walter Reed. The Mentoring Program begins assisting injured service members early in the healing process. Evan was interested in architecture, so Bob took him to the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC.

College campuses are familiar turf for Bob, who spent 42 years at CUA, including as dean of admissions. But for Evan, it was foreign territory. After touring the campus and meeting with faculty, Evan asked uneasily, “Would I have to live on post?” It took his puzzled civilian hosts a moment to realize he meant on campus.

He’s come a long way. After recovery and four years at CUA, he was back on his feet and graduating with a degree in architecture last spring.

Evan handled coin tossing duties at a CUA football game, where his military service was publicly honored.

Evan was one of the first injured service members Bob helped transition from the military to college. Since then he’s helped many others do the same, making introductions, guiding them through the application process, and writing recommendations.

“We took advantage of Bob’s experience in admissions,” says SGT Matt White, who was injured while in Afghanistan with the 82nd Airborne and is now studying nursing. “He set up appointments with the dean and the admissions office, and arranged campus tours. It made the process easier, since most of us have been away from school for the past three or four years.”

Matt White got to know Bob during outings to sports events, thanks to tickets donated by YRF supporters.

SGT Randy Tharpe, who served in Afghanistan and Iraq, will also graduate this May with a BA in business management. Others are studying music, physical therapy, and engineering, to name a few. Most recently, Bob arranged for Navy medical corpsman Ken Schwartz to meet with a pre-med advisor.

Ken, a Navy medical corpsman, was injured while running to aid wounded Marines in Afghanistan.

“We were just talking, and he asked me what my plans were,” recalls Marine Sgt TJ Brooks. Bob helped TJ explore his interests in engineering and golf, leading TJ to pursue a degree in golf course management.

TJ attends class with his service dog, Macho.

The Yellow Ribbon Fund’s support remains available for as long as the healing continues. Following Evan’s graduation, Bob set up appointments for him at architectural firms. He’s now in graduate school, with a new career ahead of him.

Bob recently caught up with Evan at grad school.

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