"Defenders of Freedom" is a 501c3 Non Profit Organization committed to supporting deployed Troops around the world with personalized care packages, aid wounded Troops in their transition to civilian life and empowering all Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation New Dawn with life & career mentoring, job search assistance and general transitioning to the civilian sector.
Defenders of Freedom (DOF) was birthed from the Welcome Home a Hero program at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport in September of 2004. This program supported the Army's Rest and Recuperation program for weary Soldiers to come home for 2 weeks during their yearlong tour. Donna Cranston attended her first greeting in June of 2004, and it changed her life. Her son was in Iraq at that time. As she met more and more Soldiers coming through the airport and learned many were not receiving care packages, she decided to support them. As the numbers grew she knew she needed some help sustaining it and found that many people wanted to help, they simply didn't know how. She formed Defenders of Freedom as an avenue to connect the community to the Troops.
As the wars have prolonged the focus of Defenders of Freedom has turned to helping Veterans at home. DOF offers emergency financial assistance to wounded and transitioning Veterans, resume preparation, and employment searches. Additionally, they have Veteran initiated programs for peer mentoring. They continue to send care packages upon request from deployed Troops.
1. How many donors did Defenders of Freedom have in 2014, and how much did you receive?
In 2014 we had contributions from 375 individuals, businesses and organizations who contributed totaling $355,735.00
2. What regular or annual events does Defenders of Freedom hold to generate more funds?
We host the 3 Gun Shoot, Biker Ride, Clay Shoot, special dinners and the largest event, our annual golf outing.
3. Does Defenders of Freedom have a paid staff? How many active volunteers do you have in your organization?
We have one paid staff person and approximately 30 volunteers we can call on for our events.
4. How many active Veteran volunteers participate in Defenders of Freedom activities?
Many of the Veterans we have helped want to pay it forward and help us by participating in events we hold, speak at events in the community or ready out to help other Veterans. At any time we have at least 12 - 15 we can call on to help us. We have had as many as 35 participate at some level in our annual events.
5. What is your board makeup and how many Veterans do you have on your board?
Our board consists of a Chairman of the Board, President, Vice-President of Marketing, Treasurer, Secretary, and Veteran Representative. At this time we have two Veterans serving on the Board.
6. How many Veterans did you help financially in 2014?
- 124 Veterans were assisted through emergency financial assistance and/or moral support through our
- 87 Veterans were assisted with rent or mortgage payments
- 10 Veterans were placed in hotels so they would no be homeless
7. How much did Defenders of Freedom provide per recipient?
Because we look at the long term support we provide our Veterans as they transition, the continuum of care for each one is different. Each Veteran comes to us from different situations. Some Veterans may only need one time assistance with a gift card for food or gas, while others need several months of assistance while waiting on benefits to start. Here is a breakdown of how we helped the Veterans we served last year's programs.
Emergency Financial Assistance
- Mortgages, Rent 67,093.00
- Hotel (prevent homeless) 12,690.00
- Utilities 17,541.00
- Car Payments 14,825.00
- Repairs 2,028.00
- Bills 6,252.00
- Insurance 3,063.00
- Gift Cards for food & gas 12,050.00
- Miscellaneous Bills 3,627.00
- Special Events 25,650.00
- Support to partnering organizations 25,375.00
Homes for Defenders of Freedom 9,952.00
TOTAL SPENT ON VETEREANS $200,146.00
Fundraising $ 73,190.00
Operational Expenses 24,713.00
8. Was all of the financial assistance provided spent on Veterans living in North Texas?
We are proud to be able to help Veterans around the country. The majority of Veterans we help live in North Texas, however when we have unrestricted funds, and a request from another area of the country, we will provide assistance.
9. Are all the Veterans you provide assistance for from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?
We concentrate on assisting Veterans who served in Iraq, Afghanistan (post 9/11), Kuwait and Africa with combat Veterans taking priority.
10. Do you ever help the spouse and/or children of Veterans directly?
While we work directly with the Veteran a majority of the time, much of the assistance we provide helps their families as well.
11. Can you assist a Veteran in finding employment?
Yes, we have built relationships with Veteran friendly companies and assist Veterans with resume preparation, job searches, leads, and mock interviews to help them prepare for job interviews.
12. Do you keep in touch with Veterans after you've provided assistance?
This is an important function of what Defenders of Freedom does. We invite them to participate in our activities throughout the year so they can continue to meet other Veterans and find connections so they can be a support to each other. Additionally, we encourage people who participate with them in our activities to continue to connect with them on an ongoing basis.
13. What does a Veteran need to provide in order to qualify for assistance from Defenders of Freedom?
We require a DD214 before we will help any Veteran.
18. How does Defenders of Freedom become aware of a Veteran who needs assistance?
We primarily receive referrals from the VA Social Workers, AW2's, the homeless crisis hotline, other Veterans, and requests from our web site.
19. What is your vision for the next 5 years?
Defenders of Freedom's vision has always been to take care of our Troops and Veterans where their needs are most critical. We envision continuing to do what we are doing today with emergency financial assistance, job searches, and morale programs. Additionally, we will be growing by opening chapters in cities around the nation who will duplicate what we have done in the North Texas area, allowing communities to help the Veterans living near them.