Bob Woodruff Foundation Expedites Investments in Veteran-Serving Organizations in Florida to Urgently Address Needs Following Hurricane Ian - Bob Woodruff Foundation

Bob Woodruff Foundation Expedites Investments in Veteran-Serving Organizations in Florida to Urgently Address Needs Following Hurricane Ian

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NEW YORK, Oct. 7, 2022 – In response to the devastation of Hurricane Ian, the Bob Woodruff Foundation (BWF) has expedited grants to organizations serving the military and veteran community in impacted areas in Florida. BWF has invested in four organizations that provide emergency relief to address the urgent needs of service members, veterans, caregivers, and survivors. The funding is in keeping with the organization’s mission to find, fund, shape, and accelerate equitable solutions that help our impacted veterans, service members, their families, and their caregivers thrive.

Hurricane Ian left thousands of veterans vulnerable to its devastating aftereffects. Florida has one of the highest veteran populations in the United States, with more than 100,000 in the Orlando tri-county area. The U.S. Census estimates there are more than 1.5 million veterans in Florida. Of those, nearly half have a household income less than $50,000 per year; more than half are over the age of 65. Central Florida is home to nearly 400,000 veterans. Of these, 90,000 are seen at the current Orlando VA Medical Center every year.  

“The Bob Woodruff Foundation stands with all who are impacted by Hurricane Ian. Our hearts break for those who have lost their homes, loved ones, or sense of normalcy. Drawing from lessons we learned following Hurricane Harvey, and our partnership with the Qatar Harvey Fund, in the Texas Gulf Coast, we knew it was critical to provide funding to the Florida area as quickly as possible,” said Anne Marie Dougherty, CEO of the Bob Woodruff Foundation. “Through our grants, we’re investing in organizations that provide emergency relief and legal services which will be greatly needed during this difficult time and in the months to come.”

BWF has invested in the following veterans serving organizations in Florida: 

Bay Area Legal Services

Bay Area Legal Services has worked within the Bay Pines VA Medical Legal Partnership (MLP) since 2016 to provide legal assistance to income-qualified veterans with legal issues impacting their health, including related to hurricane recovery. MLP is a unique service model that integrates lawyers into health care settings to address patients’ civil-legal issues concurrently with their healthcare. This model is especially effective when addressing health disparities related to housing and addressing complex legal issues to improve mental health outcomes. This BWF grant will provide legal services to remove barriers to wellbeing and improve quality of life and personal stability for at least 500 veteran households in the greater Tampa Bay area.

Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association

The Veterans Advocacy, Legal Outreach & Representation Project, or VALOR Project, advocates on behalf of low-income veterans in Central Florida to provide free civil legal assistance with legal issues, including related to hurricane recovery, all in partnership with local VA Medical Centers and VA social workers. This BWF grant will provide legal services to remove barriers to wellbeing and improve the quality of life of at least 200 veteran households in central Florida.

Volunteers of America of Florida

Volunteers of America of Florida helps veterans and their families find safe and affordable housing, and provides them with the vital support services they need to stabilize. Funding through an NFL-Bob Woodruff Foundation Salute to Service grant will allow Volunteers of America of Florida to 1) make immediate repairs to their Punta Gorda housing facility to ensure the safety of its veteran residents and 2) provide emergency relief to military/veteran households impacted by Hurricane Ian. 

Heart of Florida United Way

The Heart of Florida United Way’s (HFUW) Mission United provides case management and direct assistance in housing and employment to ensure that veterans and their families maintain stability while seeking additional services, especially crucial during hurricane recovery. This BWF funding will equip HFUW to provide emergency relief to military/veteran households impacted by Hurricane Ian in the region.