More than 1,400 miles from home, Capt. Jon Flaspoehler helped residents in the remote countryside of Honduras as part of his U.S. Army mission. Some received medicine and relief from pain; others received eyeglasses to help them see clearly for the first time. “It is a part of what I do that is so rewarding,” says the civil affairs officer.
During that mission, he couldn’t help but think about his wife, Veronica. Six months pregnant, she was working as an operational risk manager for Wells Fargo, taking care of their 1-year-old son, and managing everything else for their home, which is in the Fort Bragg area of North Carolina, where Jon is stationed. (The Flaspoehlers are pictured on the right in the photo above.)
Jon says one thing he didn’t have to worry about was who would handle the yardwork back home. That was done by the Military Property CareSM Program, a Wells Fargo service available with no out-of-pocket expense when a team member or spouse/domestic partner is away on orders for 30 days or more. In winter conditions, it also provides snow-clearing services.
Veronica says she found out about the service at a crucial time: “Needless to say, I needed all the help I could get,” she says. “When I heard about the program, I felt such a great burden was lifted because it was one less thing to worry about.”
Responding on short notice
That’s a familiar response from the families who have been helped since the program began in 2014, says Jeff Chavannes, manager of Military Property Care, a joint effort with Wells Fargo Home Lending Property Preservation. It is part of the company’s overall military support initiative — including home donations to wounded warriors, Warriors to Summits, and other services.
“We are helping to alleviate some of the stress of property maintenance for the military spouse.”
“We have served more than 50 team members, cut more than 2.6 million square feet of grass, and removed more than 18,000 square feet of snow,” Jeff says. “By providing these services, we are helping to alleviate some of the stress of property maintenance for the military spouse, allowing them more time to spend with their families.”
The service came in especially handy last summer for Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Smith and his wife, Natasha, a Wells Fargo store manager in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The couple and their two young children had just moved into a new home with a steep, hilly lawn — no easy task to mow. (The Smiths and sons Aric,10, and Caden, 8, are pictured on the left at top of the story.)
“I had just gotten the call on a Friday that I had to be in Texas for training three days later and would be gone all summer,” says Aaron, an aircraft electronics technician who works on F-16 fighter jets. “When my wife told me about the service, I was happy that she would have that kind of support, especially mowing that steep lawn.”
“We had very little notice to plan for his absence,” says Natasha. “And I knew there was no way I’d be able to take care of that lawn myself. But Wells Fargo had someone out to our house to mow the lawn within a week’s time.”
Both couples find ways to pay it forward to their communities: The Smiths through volunteering with Junior Achievement, Habitat for Humanity, and Feeding South Dakota (a local food bank); and the Flaspoehlers through charities that include the University of North Carolina Young Alumni Leadership Council, Wounded Warriors Project, and USO.
“I’m looking forward to what comes next for me as a civilian,” says Jon, who transitions out of the military this summer and begins MBA studies at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. “I’m looking forward to spending more time at home with my wife and our kids.”