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Volunteering & Giving
May 20, 2020

‘Veterans leaving the military often feel ill-equipped to handle the transition’

Viewpoints: As more veterans are exiting the military, more transitional programs are needed to support them, writes retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco, Military Warriors Support Foundation’s founder and CEO.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco
Retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco is the founder and CEO of Military Warriors Support Foundation.
Volunteering & Giving
May 20, 2020

‘Veterans leaving the military often feel ill-equipped to handle the transition’

Viewpoints: As more veterans are exiting the military, more transitional programs are needed to support them, writes retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco, Military Warriors Support Foundation’s founder and CEO.

Our monthly Viewpoints series invites guest authors from outside of Wells Fargo to share an important perspective related to their work. Today, we welcome retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Leroy Sisco, founder and CEO of Military Warriors Support Foundation.

After 42 years in the military, I was determined to continue to serve our nation’s heroes because they have supported this great country and me in such a strong way. Many veterans leaving the military often feel ill-equipped to handle the transition, with limited training received prior to exiting. As more veterans are exiting the military, more transitional programs are needed to support them. Since 2007, Military Warriors Support Foundation has been addressing these transitional needs through support programs aimed at helping the participants reintegrate back into civilian life.

We have awarded almost 900 mortgage-free homes to combat-wounded heroes and Gold Star spouses to provide them with a path to homeownership.

Through our Homes4WoundedHeroes and Homes4GoldStars housing programs, we have awarded almost 900 mortgage-free homes to combat-wounded heroes and Gold Star spouses to provide them with a path to homeownership. With Wells Fargo’s donation of more than 300 homes, we have been able to give away homes in all 50 states. In addition to the home, each family participates in our three-year family and financial mentoring program. This program provides a path to financial stability, which will shape future generations. Participating families have paid off more than $20 million in personal debt and raised their credit score an average of 45 points.

Our vehicle donation program, Transportation4Heroes, awards payment-free vehicles to veterans in need of reliable transportation and financial education. We’ve been able to award nearly 100 vehicles through this program with the help of Wells Fargo, which has donated over 35 vehicles and sponsored one-year of family and financial mentoring valued at over $1 million. Combat-wounded veterans and Gold Star spouses who are part of this program use the skills they acquire to pay down, on average, $12,200 of personal debt. In addition, through our WellnessRides4Heroes program, veterans receive transportation to medical appointments at the Veterans Affairs medical centers in San Antonio.

Conducted by former military members, our recreational programs allow the heroes to receive peer-to-peer mentoring in informal settings like hunting, fishing, and golfing trips to infuse the competition and camaraderie that may have been left behind in the military. This mentoring extends into our Leadership4Life program, which guides participants to evaluate and translate the skills learned in the military to civilian life — and to discover the purpose of their life and create a plan to fulfill that purpose. Training focuses on responsibility and overall growth of each individual and duty to their community.

The Ortiz family stands in front of their home. Quote: ‘We were struggling, living paycheck to paycheck. Since being awarded the home, our lives have been blessed with success. I graduated with my master’s degree in clinical social work. My wife is on her thrid year of a civil engineering degree. We have been able to accomplish our goals as a family.’
The Perrotte family stands in front of their home in Hampton, Virginia. Quote: ‘The home and program were a lifesaver and an adventure. We can’t thank you enough for this life-changing gift.’
Abreu family, Paul Goin, Ken Eakes, and new truck. ‘After putting my military career first, my wife was able to finish her master’s degree in accounting. She is currently working a part-time job to be able to be at home for me and my daughter.’
The Beck family, wearing T-shirts and jeans, sitting inside their new minivan. Quote: ‘Learning to budget helped us stop living off our credit cards.’
Standing between Jerry Bowen and Ken Eakes at a podium, Tanya Palmer holds a poster representing the vehicle. Quote: ‘With the help of everyone from MWSF, I can finally focus on my future. Three years ago, I was not sure type of future that would be.'
U.S. Army veteran Marlene Rodriguez stands in front of her home in San Antonio. Quote: ‘It sure has changed my life in so many ways. Since I don’t worry about financial stress, it is amazing to me how much more there is to life.’
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Lyndon Ortiz, his wife Ada Ocampo, and their daughters Thaliana and Ariana were presented their mortgage-free home in Orlando, Florida, in March 2017. Since then, with help from Military Warriors Support Foundation, they have paid off 75% of their debt and increased their credit score by 364 points.
Kayla Perrotte, U.S. Army veteran Dominic Perrotte, and their son were awarded their mortgage-free home in Hampton, Virginia, in 2015. Since then, with help from Military Warriors Support Foundation’s financial mentoring program, the Perrottes have paid off 24% of their debt, raised their credit score by 218 points, and launched a small business in the sport fishing industry.
Paul Goin of Wells Fargo Auto and Ken Eakes, executive director of Military Warriors Support Foundation, presented the Abreu family, U.S. Marine Corps veteran Christian Abreu, his wife April, and their daughter, Shyla, with a payment-free truck in November 2018 in Chandler, Arizona. Since then, with help from financial mentoring provided by Military Warriors Support Foundation, they have decreased their debt by 24% and increased their credit score by 35 points.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Landon Beck was awarded a payment-free vehicle in December 2018, just days after his wife, Jessica, gave birth to the couple’s sixth child. Since that time, the minivan has provided reliable transportation for their busy family, and financial mentoring from Military Warriors Support Foundation has helped the Becks decrease their debt by 31% and increase their credit score by 84 points.
Jerry Bowen, head of Wells Fargo Commercial Auto, and Ken Eakes, executive director of Military Warriors Support Foundation, presented a payment-free vehicle in May 2019 to Tanya Palmer in Charlotte, North Carolina. Palmer is the Gold Star wife of U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Charles O. Palmer II, who was killed in action. Since then, with the help of financial mentoring that came with the donation, Palmer has restarted her career, paid off nearly half her debt, and significantly increased her credit score.
U.S. Army veteran Marlene Rodriguez was behind on her rent and on the verge of being evicted in 2015 when Military Warriors Support Foundation presented her with a mortgage-free home donated by Wells Fargo. Now, with the help of the organization’s Homes4WoundedHeroes financial mentoring program, she is living debt-free and has earned a degree in recreational administration.

Military Warriors Support Foundation could not have done any of this without our incredible supporters, such as Wells Fargo, that we’ve been blessed to have serve alongside us over the years. As champions of so many of our programs, you can see how much Wells Fargo’s employees share our passion for serving our nation’s heroes and how the company has been an incredible example of corporate support of veterans. In addition, the company has organized volunteer events and provided opportunities for executives to spend valuable time with our heroes, teaching them about leadership and professional development strategies.

We look forward to many more years working with Wells Fargo and all our supporters, as we join together to serve the heroes who have served for us.

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