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Operation Warmheart receives large donation

By Airman 1st Class Tessa B. Corrick 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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Operation Warmheart (OWH) is an organization developed to help Airmen in need of emergency financial assistance.

Organized by Barksdale’s First Sergeant Council, the program has already been able to give Airmen more than $4,000 in the last 12 months.

“Out of the total, $3,000 has gone to emergency aid,” said Master Sgt. Mark Hughes, OWH president and 2nd Comptroller Squadron first sergeant. “This has covered anything from sending Airmen home because of illnesses in their families to helping Airmen in the local area with situations with their families and kids.”

“We are trying to encourage everyone to be servant leaders, be giving and ultimately put others before themselves. Service before self, one of our core values, isn’t just about the Air Force, but the entire community,” he added.

OWH, established on base in 2006, stands out from other emergency financial services because it is directly organized by first sergeants and funding can be given out almost immediately.

“We have a very strong connection with the people in our units,” Hughes said. “That way if any first sergeant knows their Airman is in need they have a direct line of financial support that they have easy access to. If an Airman is in need and they don’t have food in their pantry, they don’t have to wait a week or more for another type of financial process to go through. We have the capability to support them that same day.”

One hundred percent of the funds for the organization are solely based on donations and fundraisers. Recently, The Mosquito Association, initially formed after the Korean War in the early 1950s by a group of officers and pilots, donated more than $9,000 to Barksdale’s OWH efforts.

“I am very proud and happy to be able to be a part of this. It makes me feel great knowing it will be used well,” said retired Master Sgt. John Dichard, Mosquito Association president.

The remaining funds of the Mosquito Association were given to OWH. The group voted to dissolve the unit this year due to a significant   decrease in membership.  Once the decision was made, the final assets had to be given to an Air Force organization for charitable purposes, according to their by-laws. Dichard came to Barksdale looking for a place to donate too. Once he arrived, he was told about Operation Warmheart.

“I was fortunate to find out about this organization and after reading the commitment statements, I knew this would be where we would like to give the money to,” Dichard said.

 According to Hughes, this donation is going to significantly impact the work of OWH.

“It is a force multiplier for what we are doing. This substantial amount of money for our organization probably represents about two years of our normal fundraising,” Hughes said. “So when we combine it with the money we already have and the money we are going to bring in, we are going to be able to do a lot more for all the Airmen.”

“It feels absolutely phenomenal to be a part of. My job as a first sergeant is taking care of my people and this is an exact way that we can do that,” he added. “There is no better way, whenever there is an Airman in need, to help them through and ultimately get their focus back to the mission.”