A group of high-profile executives have formed an advisory council to assist national non-profit Operation Homefront with its mission to help military families become financially strong and stable and thrive in the communities they protect as they transition from military to civilian life.
The newly-created Veterans Financial Services Advisory Council (VFSAC) includes prominent leaders from the housing, banking, finance, and mortgage industries. Bob Caruso, Division President, Servicing and Strategy for ServiceLink, will be the Chairman of the VFSAC; Ed Delgado, President and CEO, Five Star Institute, be the council’s Vice-Chairman; and the VFSAC’s managing director will be Brig Gen (ret) John I. Pray, Jr., President and CEO of Operation Homefront.
Numerous reports within the industry, including a Low Income Housing Coalition report estimating that more than 1.5 million veterans are spending more than half of their income on housing, indicate that there is an urgent need to address housing initiatives for veterans. That same report indicated that severe housing costs burdens were more likely to be borne by post-9/11 veterans than veterans from prior eras.
The VFSAC’s goal is to address and find solutions to the financial challenges that military families face.
“After serving in our nation’s time of need and protecting the freedoms we, as Americans, enjoy daily, we see many military families struggling to make ends meet. We want to help those that have done so much for all of us to have the same opportunities they have made possible,” said Pray. “Having a safe and secure place to call ‘home’ is critical to building a better future and our Homes on the Homefront (HOTH) program is designed to help military families establish the foundation upon which to build that better future.”
Operation Homefront has partnered with several major financial institutions to place more than 550 families in homes since 2012, which saved approximately $22 million in mortgage costs. Over the last two years, Operation Homefront has teamed with Auction.com and the Five Star Institute to donate 11 mortgage-free homes to wounded veterans at the 2015 and 2016 Five Star Conferences.
“These homes are an investment in the future of our military families—especially for those who have sacrificed so much for all of us in securing our own way of life,” said Caruso. “Through the Veterans Financial Services Advisory Council, we will build a coalition that is able to accomplish three key tasks: sourcing homes to donate to military families; engaging companies willing to renovate donated homes; and recruiting donors to fund Operation Homefront’s Homes on the Homefront program expenses.”
The leaders on the VFSAC will combine their expertise and resources to support a broad national effort supporting military families who are experiencing difficulties, either financially or with some aspect of the transition from military to civilian life. That effort includes providing these families with:
- relief through critical assistance and housing programs;
- resiliency through permanent housing and caregiver programs;
- and recurring family support through a variety of programs to make sure short-term needs are met and that they don’t become long-term struggles.
“This is a seminal moment for Operation Homefront. Our Advisory Council will capitalize on the expertise of many national leaders in the financial services arena to help chart a strong future for military families for years to come,” said Delgado. “It is absolutely critical to not just raise awareness, but actually deliver tangible results on meeting the very real housing needs of our military families.”
(Editor’s note: The Five Star Institute is the parent company of MReport and TheMReport.com)