November 09, 2009
Washington, DC-- USA Cares Executive Director Bill Nelson had just climbed the stairs on his way into a meeting with the Veteran’s Administration in Washington when his Blackberry mobile phone signaled him with an incoming email. The message was from his Dallas, Texas Field Representative informing him about the horrific event at the largest military installation in her area of responsibility.
Stephanie Melson is the USA Cares Field Representative who spends a large portion of her time interfacing with various support organizations on the base at Fort Hood. Her message to Bill Nelson was terse, “Bad news – they just broke in & mentioned that there has been a shooting at Ft Hood. 7 are dead, 12 injured & we don’t really know much other detail. The base is on lockdown at the moment”.
That sketchy and short message loomed very large in Nelson’s mind as he entered the VA Headquarters. For many at the VA, Nelson’s relayed message was the first they had heard about the shootings.
According to Nelson, “This tragedy certainly underscores the need for robust public and private sector support of America’s military personnel and their families”. He went on to add “this will result in many family members needing emergency travel, lodging and other resources. USA Cares has established a Fort Hood Family Emergency Fund to assist with these and other unforeseen difficulties”.
Nelson immediately contacted Dennis Miller, the National Spokesperson for USA Cares who announced the creation of this fund on his national talk radio program “The Dennis Miller Show”. He did this by saying on-air to the 220 or more stations carrying his show daily “I just want to let all of my Fort Hood listeners know that if any of the victim families need any assistance to contact USA Cares by calling 1-800-773-0387 and ask for Forest.”
Nelson had already assigned one of his senior Family Resource Coordinators in charge of this contingency. Forest (last name not published), a 20 plus year US Army retiree, was asked to field calls in lieu of the normal website application for assistance that the organization usually requires. He did this in order to be as responsive as possible to grieving and anxious family members needing to be near their loved one at Fort Hood.
Anyone wishing to donate to USA Cares’ Ft. Hood Family Emergency Fund can do so by visiting usacares.org, clicking the donate button and noting “Fort Hood Fund” along with their contribution of any amount.
About USA Cares
USA Cares is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that helps post 9/11 military families bear the burdens of service with financial and advocacy support. Its mission: To help with basic needs during financial crisis, to assist combat injured Veterans and their families and to prevent private military home foreclosures and evictions. In six years, USA Cares has received over 19,000 requests and responded with more than $6.3 million in grants. Military families anywhere in America can apply for assistance through the USA Cares web site, http://www.usacares.org/ or by calling 1-800-773-0387. For more information on USA Cares contact John Revell, email@example.com or call (270) 352-5451 x101.