Menlo Park resident Dana Hendrickson is the first to admit that military veterans, especially those that served in Afghanistan and Iraq, are not top of mind for many local residents, even on Veterans Day, which is today.
“Given the all-volunteer nature of service and the demographics of our community, people here who know someone in the military usually means that person attended one of the military academies,” he said.
But Dana reminds us that two million enlisted men and women have served in the two most recent wars. Learning that some return home facing a variety of challenges, he founded the non-profit Rebuild Hope four years ago.
“The good news is that medical care is better than ever,” he said. “Services through the Palo Alto VA and other regional facilities are super.
“The problem is on the service-connected compensation side,” he said. “Applying for financial help can be a long and complicated process. One reason for that is that there are so many vets, which has resulted in a spike in demand.”
Vets that meet Rebuild Hope’s requirements receive a financial grant, but Dana stresses that the support the organization provides is much more: “We work with the vets and their families to get them to recognize their financial circumstances. We take them through the exercise of creating a 12-month cash flow budget. We work with them to think through things that are likely to happen. And we refer them to other organizations that might provide additional financial aid as well as legal and psychological services.”
Dana is particularly proud of the fact that Rebuild Hope has not turned away an eligible vet in its four-year existence — and that the organization was honored at the White House earlier this year.
Given the up coming holiday season, the current focus is providing gifts for the vets and their families, which can be done through Rebuild Hope’s website.
Dana also welcomes additional volunteers who are interested in working with the vets Rebuild Hope serves. “It’s not easy work but I’m happy to talk with any one who thinks they’d like to give it a try,” he said. More details about volunteering are found online.
Photo by Chris Gulker (2009)