Operation Homefront Preparing To Assist Military Post-Afghanistan
Organizational Changes Part of Long-term Strategic Decisions
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – The U.S. military mission is changing, and Operation Homefront is changing to prepare itself to best serve military service members and their families now and beyond the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. As part of its strategic planning process, the organization is undertaking a change to its operating organizational structure.
Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Assistance is in the form of grants to meet the most basic of needs like rent, utilities, food and housing.
Since its inception 10 years ago, Operation Homefront has had a national office and chartered Chapters around the country. Each Chapter is its own nonprofit with a Board of Directors and responsibility to fund itself locally, while delivering a host of programs and services under an agreement with the national organization. Each Chapter handles its own governance, fundraising, accounting, legal registrations, web site maintenance and a myriad other administrative and management responsibilities. The National organization provides national partnership, standards and procedures, donated in-kind goods, common infrastructure systems, and other types of resources and assistance to Chapters.
"Like our military, Operation Homefront has been asking questions like 'How will our mission need to change?' and 'Where will the needs be?' and 'What resources will we have and how should those resources be best employed to help the most families?'" said Jim Knotts, Operation Homefront's president and chief operating officer. "These are complicated questions, but it would be irresponsible not to take an active approach to making the changes necessary to continue supporting our service members. One thing is certain – Operation Homefront will continue to serve our military service members and their families, now and after the deployments to combat zones end."
The National Board of Directors therefore has decided to change to a nationalized structure instead of having separate chartered Chapters. Operation Homefront is working with the chartered Chapters as they consider whether to remain affiliated with the organization, or continue serving military families as unaffiliated nonprofits.
“With these changes, we will be able to leverage the strength of national support and deploy increased resources while serving our military families on the local level,” said Glen Latona, chairman of the board. “Our donors, who have been so supportive, will continue to have the option of supporting our service members and their families at the local level or wherever the need is greatest around the country.”
Transition from an affiliate model to a national model is already underway as a result of Board decisions by eight Chapters – Colorado, Hawaii, Hampton Roads, Indiana, Oklahoma, Michigan, Tennessee/Kentucky, and Wisconsin. As part of this transition, the Michigan Field Office also will serve military families in Indiana and Ohio. The Wisconsin Field Office will serve military families in Minnesota and Iowa. The Hampton Roads Field Office will serve military families in Southern Virginia and West Virginia. The Oklahoma Field Office will serve military families in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Colorado office will serve military families in Colorado and Wyoming.
Additionally, the national organization recently established Field Offices in Boston to serve five New England states and in Boise, Idaho, to serve military families in Montana, Idaho, and Utah where chapters currently do not exist. As a result of establishing these national Field Offices and expansion of service territories, Operation Homefront will have local outreach and program delivery in 14 states where before there was no local presence.
The transitions are taking place over time to insure Operation Homefront continues providing high levels of service to military families. With the transition, the administration, management, and governance requirements of the chapters will shift to the national organization, leaving Field Office staffs more time to focus on serving military families and their evolving needs.
"One of our benefits has always been our forward presence in communities around the country, where we serve our military families face-to-face," said Jim Knotts. "Similar to what most for-profit companies have experienced over the past several years, these changes help us to leverage the strength of our national organization with our focus of serving families locally. It will eliminate duplication of efforts and costs around administrative and management tasks, which means more of our donations go directly to serving families. The changes also make it easier to meet the expectations of our national donors in more local communities."
Knotts said, “We understand that some of our Chapters might want to serve families in a different way, and may choose to do so separate from the national organization. We will respect their decisions. However, we will evaluate the need to continue having a physical presence in those territories and we’re likely to create Field Offices in some or all of those territories to continue serving military families with the emergency assistance and morale programs for which we are known.”
"Our focus is on the families and how best to serve them today and tomorrow," continued Knotts. "We will still have the local presence, and in fact will have that presence in more places than ever. Those who want to support families locally can do so knowing their support will be used locally, backed up by resources and expertise from the national level."
About Operation Homefront: A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers with nationwide presence, and has met more than 590,000 needs of military families since its inception in 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, 94 percent of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes directly to assist service members. For more information, go to www.OperationHomefront.net.
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