At Veterans First, our community service efforts support existing charities and nonprofit organizations, as well as our own programs for assisting our country’s Veterans. We’ve found the most powerful initiatives to be those which give us an opportunity to engage personally with active duty servicemembers, Veterans, and their families.
Additionally, we are committed to providing hands-on support and financial education to aid any servicemember’s transition to civilian life. Giving our time and resources is as rewarding for our employees as it is for those we’re honored to help.
Service Dogs for Veterans
Veterans First has been a proud supporter of The Malinois Foundation, which was founded in 2013 to support Veterans with PTSD and/or physical needs with a specialized service animal, a partner in life, and a new best friend. Our relationship with the foundation began years ago with an answer to the need for specialized service dog funding. Events held at our loan centers — puppy kissing booths, dunk tanks, and barbeques — have allowed employees to raise enough money (along with matching corporate funds) to sponsor four service dogs since 2017. Early on, we helped the charity with the sponsorship of a service dog named Cooper the Great. The Belgian Malinois mix serves a disabled Iraq War combat Veteran named Alex, whose traumatic brain injury and PTSD led him down a dark path battling seizures, anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. Seeing Alex’s life transformed by his PTSD/Medical Alert Service Dog over the years, and knowing that dogs’ lives are relatively short, we wanted to do more. So, we approached The Malinois Foundation with an idea for The Service Dog Successor Program. Veterans First Mortgage became the flagship sponsor of the new program and kicked it off by funding Alex’s next dog. Alex’s new puppy will spend three years training to serve Alex’s specific needs and will become top dog when Cooper retires. To watch a video of Al and Cooper, click here.
Veterans Family Gift Shop
The Veterans Family Gift Shop, located at the VA’s George E. Wahlen VA Medical Center, is a favorite holiday giving initiative for the employees of Veterans First. The shop provides holiday gifts for needy Veterans and their families. Each holiday season, children and Veterans are able to pick out popular electronic devices, clothes, toys, and many other items that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. During the pandemic, rather than gift shop items, we donated wireless headphones, pajamas, slippers and more to the VA Hospitals in Salt Lake City and San Diego.
Serving Dinner at the Fisher House
Veterans First employees routinely have the opportunity to serve dinners for the Fisher House Foundation, a charity that builds and supports 76 comfort houses on 24 installations and 32 VA medical centers around the world. These homes are meant to be supportive, relaxing environments where military and Veteran families can stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital. Our staff members serve dinners at Fisher Houses in Salt Lake City, Utah, and San Diego, California. We’ve found providing meals and sitting down to tell and hear stories to be a great way to warm hearts and bellies, while loved ones are healing.
Care Packages for U.S. Troops
Operation Outreach is a care package initiative supported by Veterans First employee donations. These packages filled with toiletries, sundries, and treats are sent to U.S. troops overseas. Since the program started, Veterans First has sent approximately 2,000 packages containing the most requested items to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Veterans First Mortgage passionately advocates for Veterans with PTSD, supporting them through education and partnerships with national charities. One such effort is a fireworks education program. Started by Military with PTSD -- a nonprofit organization committed to strengthening military and Veteran families through peer support, community education, and special events -- the “An Explosion of Kindness” campaign is intended to educate the general public on the effects of fireworks on Veterans. To support this initiative, we’ve created special flyers, held events, and designed and printed yard signs that inform Veterans and those affected by PTSD that fireworks will be used to mark special occasions like weddings and holidays. Such a sign design, available for free download, can be found on our Pinterest page.
Navy Veteran, Jason, found himself homeless and suicidal after his service separation. Thankfully, Jason had taken the Spartan Pledge, a commitment among Veterans to not take their own lives, but to stand with their fellow brothers in arms in their darkest hours. With the support of his Spartan brothers, Jason was able to turn his life around. Jason went from homeless to homeowner with a VA loan with the help of our own loan officer Chris, an Air Force Veteran. Chris and Jason became fast friends. And after the loan closed, Chris took the Spartan Pledge with Jason to became Spartan brothers for life.
"I will not take my own life by my own hand until I talk to my battle buddy first. My mission is to find a mission to help my warfighter family.” –Spartan Pledge