Special Operations Warrior Foundation
PURPOSE: For nearly 34 years, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation has provided surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps Special Operations Forces (SOF) with the college education their fallen parent would have wanted for them. It also provides financial assistance and support to special operations personnel who are severely wounded.
MISSION: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) was founded in 1980 to serve the military’s special operations forces and their families. A tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, the SOWF is dedicated to ensuring no-cost college scholarship grants and educational counseling to the children surviving special operations personnel who are killed in a training accident or operational mission. Additionally, the SOWF provides funds to the families of severely wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel to meet their immediate financial needs.
ORGANIZATION: The SOWF is governed by a Board of Directors (up to 25 members), which consults with a Board of Advisors. The Board of Directors has four standing committees: Executive, Development, Audit & Finance, and Governance. The SOWF office is located four miles from MacDill AFB, the home of the United States Special Operations Command. The Foundation has 14 full-time salaried employees.
EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is committed to providing educational counseling and college scholarship grants that include tuition, books, fees, room and board for more than 1,010 children of fallen special operations personnel. In 2011, the SOWF provided $3.7 million in scholarship grants, educational programs, beneficiary support, counseling and secured funds for future obligations.
WOUNDED SOF WARRIOR SUPPORT: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides much- needed immediate financial assistance to severely wounded and hospitalized special operations personnel. In 2012, the SOWF provided $290,000 to the families of wounded Special Operations Forces. Since this program began in 2005, about $1.8 million has been given to SOF families.
CHALLENGES: The Warrior Foundation strives to relieve Special Operations personnel of concern for their families, which might distract them when they need to be—and when America needs them to be—at their very best. Since 1980, over 905 Special Operations personnel have lost their lives on operational missions or during intense training programs. Today, more than 615 children survive these oft-unsung heroes. With over 140 children eligible for college each year, the Foundation’s actuary valuation financial need is approximately $116 million.
FUND RAISING: The Special Operations Warrior Foundation obtains its funding from corporations, private citizens, fundraising events and from participation in the Combined Federal Campaign and State Campaigns in Florida, North Carolina, Washington, Texas, California, Maryland, and Virginia. The Special Operations Warrior Foundation has received its seventh consecutive four-star rating (out of four stars) for its financial efficiency and transparency from Charity Navigator, the nation’s leading nonprofit watchdog group.
“There are no words to explain what the SOWF provided me. My father was killed when I was 15 years old. The SOWF was something I could 100% rely on and not be in fear of rejection. The SOWF never gave up on me, and it’s why I have a future.”
– Eric Thompson, son of Army Col. Jerald Thompson, 5th Special Forces Group, who lost his life in Iraq in 1994.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation began in 1980 as the Col. Arthur D. “Bull” Simons Scholarship Fund. The Bull Simons Fund was created after the Iranian hostage rescue attempt to provide college educations for the 17 children surviving the nine special operations men killed or incapacitated at Desert One. It was named in honor of the legendary Army Green Beret who repeatedly risked his life on rescue missions.
Following creation of the United States Special Operations Command, and as casualties mounted from actions such as Operations “Urgent Fury” (Grenada), “Just Cause” (Panama), “Desert Storm” (Kuwait and Iraq), and “Restore Hope” (Somalia), the Bull Simons Fund gradually expanded its outreach program to encompass all Special Operations Forces. Thus, in 1995, the Family Liaison Action Group (established to support the families of the 53 Iranian hostages) and the Spectre (Air Force gunship) Association Scholarship Fund merged to form the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. In 1998, the Warrior Foundation extended the scholarship and financial aid counseling to also include training fatalities incurred since the inception of the Foundation in 1980. This action immediately made 205 additional children eligible for college funding.
The Warrior Foundation’s mission is to ensure a college education for every child who has lost a parent while serving in the U. S. Special Operations Command and its units, during an operational or training mission. Special Operations Forces covered by the Special Operations Warrior Foundation include, but are not limited to, Army Rangers and Special Forces personnel, Navy SEALs, Marine Corps and Air Force special operations personnel, stationed in units in the U.S. and overseas.
The Warrior Foundation also provides immediate financial stipends of $3,000 to special operations personnel who are severely wounded in operations to help with unexpected expenses incurred by the family (i.e., travel, pet boarding, child care, etc). Since 2005, the foundation has provided more than $1.8 million to the families of wounded special operations personnel.
Today, the Warrior Foundation is currently committed to ensuring scholarship grants, not loans, to more than 1,010 children. These children survive over 905 Special Operations personnel who gave their lives in service to their country, including those who died fighting our nation’s war against terrorism as part of “Operation Enduring Freedom” in Afghanistan and the Philippines as well as “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
Children from all military services have received or been offered Special Operations Warrior Foundation scholarships. To date, 234 children of fallen SOF personnel have graduated college with the assistance of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Currently enrolled in colleges and universities across the country are 129 sons and daughters of fallen special operations warriors.
|John T. Carney Jr., President/ CEO||Steven L. McLeary, Executive Director|
|P. O. Box 13483 – Tampa, FL 33681||4409 W. El Prado Blvd. Tampa, FL 33629|
|State Employee Campaigns in California, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington|