The Yellow Ribbon Fund was founded in 2005 to serve the wounded coming back from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since then, our mission is to provide practical support for wounded, ill and injured service members and their caregivers. We recognize the importance of keeping the family together during the critical recuperation phase, because the presence of family and friends accelerates recovery and rehabilitation and makes for a successful transition back to civilian life.
YRF provides two critical programs: The Crossroads Program (Housing and Transportation) and The Keystone Program (Family + Caregiver Support Services). The United States Military is protecting our freedom in over 150 countries around the world. Service members continue to come back injured. Many of those previously injured now need additional surgeries and treatment. The immediate and long-term needs of wounded, ill, and injured veterans, and their families, continue to grow.
We have seen families torn apart by the awful effects of war, but more often we see how families rally together during a critical time. Through the Crossroads Program, we provide, on average, 5,240 lodging nights and 5,280 rental car days per year at no expense to our recipients. These services promote immediate financial stability and allow service members and their caregivers to focus on the road to recovery. Since the founding of the Yellow Ribbon Fund, we have given service members and their families a chance to live off hospital grounds, in their own apartment, free of charge while they are being treated. Without the Yellow Ribbon Fund apartments, most of the families would not be able to afford to stay with their service member while they are being treated. Some service members will even forgo medical treatment due to the financial strain on the family.
The YRF apartments are conveniently located near Walter Reed in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase area. The offering also includes important necessities such as household starter kits, furniture, water and electricity.
Since the military normally does not cover the cost for hotels for visiting family members that come to see their injured and ill service members, the Yellow Ribbon Fund steps in. We cover the cost for hotels up to 14 nights at hotels near or on base at Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir. At this point in time, the YRF has covered the cost for over 10,000 individual hotel stays. Due to high cost of lodging in the DC Area, many of our wounded, injured and ill service members would be able to afford having a family member visit during treatment. YRF provides this service and is eligible to service members returning for follow up care or family members visiting in-patients.
YRF’s rental car program is often called a ‘lifesaver’. Mobility is critical to families and service members experiencing unexpected medical crises. Not everything is available on medical treatment facilities. Sometimes very practical necessities (food, sundries and clothing) are only available outside of the immediate area. Also, it is important for patients and caregivers to feel independent and free to move outside of hospital walls.
In partnership with Fitzgerald Auto Mall, we provide rental cars to families and service members for up to 30 days.
Time spent caregiving can lead to the loss of income/jobs and exact a substantial physical and emotional toll. In response to the need, Yellow Ribbon Fund developed the Keystone Program. Keystone is defined as, the central stone at the summit of an arch, locking the whole together. Without a strong lynchpin holding the family together through crisis, the family unit will collapse. YRF is committed to supporting and empowering the caregivers to be the version of themselves in their new life and best advocate for their family.
Initially, YRF started the caregiver program by offering respite opportunities to caregivers at the hospital. These activities included: massages, manicure/pedicure, and dinners out with fellow caregivers. By engaging with these dedicated men and women, we identified evolving needs and launched the Keystone Program to include: peer to peer support; life skills development; family building/bonding activities and health and wellness events. Soon, we plan to offer more childcare, career guidance and job placement and more retreats.
YRF provides a high touch approach to those we serve. Each location is led by a military caregiver who has firsthand experience with the needs of the community. Our Keystone Program is currently located in the DC Metro Area, Eastern Tennessee, Southern California, Central Kentucky, and Fort Campbell area.