- Special Operations Warrior Foundation
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF), a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded in 1980 to serve members of the
It is dedicated to providing college
scholarships and educational counseling to the surviving children of Special Operations personnel who are killed in a training accident or operational mission. These services are provided throughout the United States, or overseas, depending upon where the surviving children reside.
The 1980 effort to rescue American hostages from Iran ended in disaster when a helicopter and gunship collided, killing nine men. The nine dead soldiers left behind 17 children. The survivors took it on themselves to provide college educations for the children of their fallen comrades.
The Special Operations Warrior Foundation began as the Col. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons Scholarship Fund. It was named in honor of the legendary Army Green Beret, Bull Simons, 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 ( Kuwaitand 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 Foundation extended the scholarship and financial aid counseling to also include training fatalities since the inception of the Foundation in 1980. This action immediately added 205 children who were now eligible for college funding.
The Foundation mission is devoted to providing a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in the Special Operations Command during an operational or training mission. The Foundation covers all books, tuition and housing expenses with grants and scholarships, not loans. Eligible students are not restricted to traditional four year colleges: they may attend junior colleges or vocational schools as well. The Foundation also employs a school psychologist to help families through the grieving processes and the challenges that come with losing a parent.
Another mission taken on the by Special Operations Warrior Foundation provides $2,000 to wounded special operators to defray travel expenses for family members.
The forces covered by the Foundation are stationed in units throughout the United States and overseas bases. Some of the largest concentrations of Special Operations forces are at military bases at Fort Bragg and
Camp Lejeune, North Carolina; Hurlburt Field, Florida; Coronado Naval Station, California; Dam Neck, Virginia; MacDill Air Force Base, Florida; Fort Lewis, Washington; Fort Stewart, Georgia; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Little Creek, Virginia; Fort Carson, Colorado; RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom; and Kadena Air Base, Japan.
There are more than 700 children of fallen Special Operations Troops with whom the Warrior Foundation is charged with helping in their education requirements. With nearly 100 children eligible each year for college in the upcoming years, the Foundation's estimated financial need through 2018 is $60 million.
In 2007, the Foundation was awarded a four-star rating from
Charity Navigator, the nation's largest non-profit watchdog group. this was the second year in a row it received a 4 star rating. [http://www.specialops.org/news.asp]
* [http://www.specialops.org Special Operations Warrior Foundation]
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