By Andrea Kjaer
Dianne Moore’s wings aren’t made of feathers. In fact, they aren’t visible, but many local veterans know she has them. Moore has been involved with Soldiers’ Angels for more than 13 years, first as a volunteer and now as an employee.
Soldiers’ Angels was founded in 2003 by Patti Patton-Bader, who was the daughter of a veteran and a mother of a soldier serving in Iraq. When she heard about how very few of her son’s friends were receiving care packages, she started organizing to make sure they felt remembered and valued. Within a few years, Soldiers’ Angels grew to thousands of members, uniting under a common mission:
May no soldier go unloved,
May no soldier walk alone,
May no soldier be forgotten,
Until they all come home.
As more veterans have returned stateside, online adopt-a-soldier programs evolved to take care of them. Now, the Soldiers’ Angels of Atlanta focuses on giving help to homeless veterans by packing lunches and hygiene kits as part of a program called Front Door, which Moore describes as “a one-stop shop for homeless veterans to get into the VA system.” They can register to obtain health screenings and receive basic needs like clothing, food and hygiene items.
As the service area director for the state, Moore oversees the activities for the three VA hospitals in Georgia—Atlanta, Augusta and Dublin—but she can’t do it alone. These programs depend on donations and help from volunteers.
“We certainly appreciate it when companies like Comcast jump in to help. It’s a lot easier for us. UPS, Home Depot, several church groups and youth organizations have also volunteered,” Moore said.
For Comcast Cares Day 2017, a group of local employees came to the warehouse to prepare boxes full of personal items and lunches for veterans in need.
Comcast Senior Director of Customer Experience Compliance Michael Daves explained that serving American veterans is crucial to the company, which plans to hire thousands of veterans within the next several years and has already hired far beyond its target goal for the year.
Comcast’s VetNet also provides a mentoring program for soldiers returning home. Former Staff Sergeant Andrew Ernst, now a Divisional Strategy Manager at Comcast, was one of VetNet’s first mentors.
“I was in Operation Iraqi Freedom in Afghanistan in 2010, and when I came home I started out as a front line employee at Comcast,” said Ernst. “It took me a long time to get where I am now. It’s a tough transition to come from a war zone back to the states, and I was happy to help others make the same journey successfully.”
Resources for veterans haven’t always been so readily available, so programs like Soldiers Angels are a crucial resource for many. “Prior to the founding of Soldiers’ Angels, there were no food resources for homeless veterans at the VA, unless you were a patient,” said Moore. “Now they have something to eat on hand, presorted and prepackaged to give as needed.”
“This is a beneficial thing, not just for veterans, but also for people who do the project. It gives them a chance to give very direct aid to these veterans, instead of throwing money and not knowing where it’s going,” Moore explained. “You’re having a hands-on experience. In the case of the dinners and luncheons we sponsor at the VA, a lot of times volunteers can interact directly with the veterans, and see their faces and get to know them.”
According to Moore, getting involved is easy. The Soldiers’ Angels website provides a variety of opportunities. “We have a team that sews blankets, caps, wheelchair bags, and whatever else might be needed,” she said. “If you are good at baking, you can bake for soldiers overseas.”
Other options for giving include planned donations, cause-related marketing projects, community partnerships and more. Local volunteers who are interested in giving time or other sponsorships to Soldiers’ Angels can get started by contacting Dianne at firstname.lastname@example.org.