The first grants Navy Safe Harbor Foundation provided to our wounded, ill and injured Sailors in 2009 came from donations given by our founding members. Since that time, the culture of support from donors has been consistent and generous. Through that generosity, NSHF has been able to provide over one million dollars in support for our Sailors, their families and caregivers, easing financial burdens on the road to recovery. NSHF has been very fortunate and we value the relationships developed through the common goal of helping.
The Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Club of Washington DC (NOSCDC) is one of those relationships. On June 1, Rear Admiral Christopher Cole, USN (Ret.) and I attended NOSCDC 2021 Grant Presentation Award Luncheon. Despite a year of pandemic and social distancing, NOSCDC awarded 13 grants to organizations that support the military and our Sailors, including NSHF. NSHF is grateful for the continued support of NOSCDC and thankful for this grant that will help us continue our mission. We look forward to sharing the success of the Sailors with NOSCDC and with you as this year moves forward.
Heidi Weller, President, NSHF & Amy Whitworth, President, NOSCDC
Thoughts from our Board
Mrs. Camilla Route
Stepping into the Wayback Machine, perhaps you might remember the year 1973, when the United States eliminated the draft. Since then, almost fifty years now, the all-volunteer force has been one of America’s greatest success stories! And in order to retain a professional force that was well-trained and capable, the military needed members who would stay long enough to make the expense of their training worthwhile. From the beginning, the military recognized that if service members decided to reenlist it often depended on whether their families were happy with military life. There used to be a saying that, “If the Navy wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one in your seabag.” That kind of thinking was thankfully replaced with many wonderful programs that were established that continue today, providing good support to military families.
As a young Navy wife during the wayback years, I learned about Navy support of
families when we were moved to Athens, Greece. CNO Admiral Zumwalt forward-deployed six destroyers from the east coast to Greece during the height of the Cold War to watch the Russians in the Mediterranean. All the wives, kids, cats, dogs, household goods and cars were loaded aboard the USS PUGET SOUND, a destroyer tender. We sailed from Newport to Norfolk to Charleston to pick up families, and sailed 18 days across the Atlantic and into the Mediterranean. Along the way we were provided dental care, received international drivers’ licenses, and were taught Greek language and customs. We arrived prepared and found the Navy standing by to assist with finding places to live out on the economy. Over the years I remembered how much I appreciated the Navy for preparing me to navigate the challenges of living overseas.
About that same time, a group of Navy wives sat around a kitchen table and decided they wanted to offer their knowledge about this unique lifestyle and began a volunteer organization, Naval Services FamilyLine. It continues today providing information and resources to sea service families. I was proud to serve as the chairman of FamilyLine for several years and during that time we developed COMPASS, a 12-hour Navy course for new spouses; a Command Spouse Leadership Course for command officer spouses; and after 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina, we developed a guideline publication for Navy family emergency preparedness.
In 2009, because of my experiences as a Navy spouse and because of my volunteer efforts through the years, I was asked to consider joining a brand new organization to assist Navy & Coast Guard wounded, ill & injured. I jumped at the chance as it was right down my alley. Helping military families! I have been a proud member of the Navy Safe Harbor Foundation for over a decade.
Over the years, we have found that one of our main areas of focus has been in helping enrollees and their families participate in the annual Wounded Warrior Games – transportation to and from training camps, lodging for those that need special accommodations, adaptive athletic equipment, coaches and uniforms. The Warrior Games are an important element of recovery. Athletics and training help our enrollees achieve a “new normal” despite their new limitations. I have attended two of the Warrior Games and I made a point of spending some time talking with the family members – moms & dads, spouses, children. Every family member I spoke with told me that the games changed their serviceman or woman – boosted their confidence, motivated them to keep going, and helped them to see that they can control their destiny. Hearing these kinds of testimonies made me believe in the importance of our mission: that we ensure that every seriously wounded, ill and injured Navy and Coast Guard Sailor is given every opportunity for a full recovery by providing non-medical care and support to them and their families.
We rely on donations to carry out our mission. You donation this season may help a parent or spouse travel to the Warrior Games to cheer on their Sailor; or attend a Caregiver Coffee Break for support and encouragement; or get to the bedside of a critically ill or injured Sailor. I’ve seen the tears of joy at the Games, listened to the stories of hardship that change a family forever, and received the grateful thanks from Sailors and their families for what Navy Safe Harbor has provided. On behalf of all our enrollees, I thank you for your continued support.
IT1 Ruth Freeman receives Wounded Warrior of the Year
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Peter Lewis
Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Public Affairs
Information Systems Technician 1st Class Ruth Freeman was presented with the Wounded Warrior of the Year Award by Navy Safe Harbor Foundation, during a private ceremony aboard Naval Station Norfolk, April 8.
“IT1 Freeman has exemplified the spirit of the wounded warrior program,” said Kendall Hillier, the Navy Wounded Warrior mid-Atlantic regional program director,
and a guest speaker at the event. “She truly sets an example that all other wounded warriors can follow proudly.”
Nominated by Navy Region Mid Atlantic, IT1 Freeman has endured multiple surgeries and radiation treatment at both Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC). Despite facing significant challenges due to her illness, IT1 chooses to embrace life and experience new adventures whenever possible.
“Words cannot explain the gratitude that I feel for being selected for this recognition,” Freeman said. “I am both honored and humbled.”
While she has had a many successes, despite her illness, Freeman noted that she has also faced many personal struggles. She gives much of the credit for her continued success to the support she receives from her peers who have faced similar difficulties.
“Having to go through several surgeries with another on the horizon, weighs heavily on me. There are times when I feel like a failure for not physically being able to be who I was before the cancer,” she said. “My friendships with other wounded warriors and caregivers provide a normalcy not available outside the adaptive world. Having tread similar paths, perfection is not expected; just acceptance.
They know I am more than my scars and my limits, and understand that recovery is not just physical. Here among my peers, ‘invisible’ wounds are visible and supported. We can laugh, cry, vent and feel loved. They understand the journey and you can’t replace support like that.”
Freeman added that having a strong, supportive partner has also been key to keeping her on the path to success.
“I have been blessed with a lot of support, but my husband has always been my rock. He’s gotten me through every struggle, set back and storm,” she stated. “He also celebrated every inch of recovery and won’t let me give up. Knowing I have him, my family and friends behind me, makes it impossible to quit.”
Freeman continues to demonstrate a high level of motivation and determination to achieve new goals in her personal life. She actively participates in adaptive athletics, including the USO Outdoor Adventure Team, Get Set 4 All, Virginia Beach Veteran’s Rowing Family, USA Cycling, US Rowing programs, and The Warrior Games as part of Team Navy. She has been selected to represent Team US at the next Invictus Games.
Naval Officers’ Spouses’ Club DC Support
Navy Safe Harbor Foundation and National Capital Council Navy League are
teaming again this year to raise funds to aid service members and their families through our 11th annual golf tournament. This year’s tournament will be held at Springfield Golf and Country Club on August 9th. Check in begins at 11:30 AM. Register now at and reserve your spot.
In addition to golf, we are partnering with AmFund to provide our supporters the opportunity to take the trip of their dreams while backing service members and their families. Included in your golf registration is access to our virtual and in person travel package silent auction. Seven trips ranging from the beauty and relaxation of Key West, Florida to the grand castles of Ireland will open for virtual bidding on Monday, August 2nd at 9:00am and continues through Monday, August 9th at 6:30pm. Exclusive trips will be opened up for bidding during the cocktail hour available to in person attendees only following the golf tournament.
Use this QR code to be the first to bid on a trip of a lifetime all while helping service members and their families.
In 1980, the 54 women graduated from America’s service academies for the first time. Over half the graduates from the U.S. Naval Academy went on to become career naval officers.
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