By Rebekah K. Bohannon Beele
An exciting new foundation was born this year that aims to provide support and care for the needs of soldiers and veterans. The Welcome Home Our Hero’s Foundation is the brainchild of co-founders Barb and Patrick Miller; it is their way of serving those who serve in the American armed forces.
“Our mission is to help anyone who puts on a service uniform,” said Patrick.
Originally from New Hampshire, the Millers both had brothers, uncles and grandfathers who served the country and were raised by mothers who were nurses. Patrick remembers going to work with his mother and visiting with elderly patients. Their family would invite patients with no family over to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Barb’s mother suffered an aneurism and miraculously survived, although she was unable to take care of her children. Barb was raised by her stepmother, who had a genuine love of people that greatly influenced her. Having been raised with a foundation nurturing service to others is what propels the Millers’ project to care for and fulfill the needs of American soldiers, veterans and their families.
With tears in his eyes, Patrick said, “It’s not just about the military, it’s about helping people, like my mother did.”
Growing up in the 1960s, the Millers watched as the nation turned its back on soldiers returning from Vietnam. They refuse to let history repeat itself. They are taking great strides to provide support for local veterans and to be proactive in regards to care for combat veterans returning from overseas, as well as those currently serving in the armed forces.
“We’ve done the research, and this foundation, backed by this community, is the best help we can give to our deserving soldiers and veterans,” said Barb. “The bigger we grow, the more veterans we can help.”
At the early age of eight, Patrick had been taking golf lessons from a very passionate player – his father. Learning, practicing and playing golf became a passion he and his father could enjoy and share together. Patrick went on to become a professional golfer for nearly 20 years in Florida before moving to Tennessee.
After moving to Crossville, the Millers wanted to do something to help the community, but they didn’t know where to start. They decided to get involved with organizations and civic groups to make new friends and support the community they believed would in turn support their project. They met and befriended J.B. Wallace, who was an Army veteran that served in Vietnam. Wallace was a member of many civic organizations and an investigator for many years with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department. He showed great enthusiasm for the Miller’s quest to start a foundation for veterans. The Millers, partnered with their newfound friend and his fiancé, began brainstorming about the Welcome Home Our Hero’s Foundation. They discussed how they would start it, support it and raise the money necessary for serving the soldiers who had served the country. Wallace and his fiancé were to have dinner with the Millers one May evening in 2011; however, Wallace was tragically killed while riding his motorcycle. The community mourned the loss and the Millers lost a dear friend. Not being able to imagine starting the foundation without him, the Millers put their plans on hold.
Time passed, and a quiet conviction about their unfounded foundation lingered. Patrick and Barb decided it would better honor their dear friend to continue forward, and so they began pouring the footers of their honorable endeavor with time and money. The Millers were able to set up a website with the $1-a-day and $1-a-week donation options to show how little it takes to help a lot. A few of their New Hampshire friends signed up first to donate and helped the Welcome Home Our Hero’s Foundation get off the ground.
“This foundation is to serve not only our veterans but their families as well,” said Barb. She continued, “Their families serve right along with them.”
Keeping his father’s service, teaching and memories close to his heart, Patrick wanted to incorporate his golf expertise into their project. They decided to hold an annual golf tournament as one of the year’s fundraisers in which all proceeds would go directly to the honored veterans of the tournament. This year the Welcome Home Our Hero’s Foundation Golf Tournament will be held on Sept. 15 to honor its first two veterans, Christopher Hancock and Glenn Holloway.
Christopher Hancock is a Crossville native who lost both legs to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) detonation during his second tour in Afghanistan. Glenn Holloway is a Rockwood resident who fought for our country in WWII.
In between hosting fundraising events, the Millers will be working on their next organizational steps of acquiring 501(c)3 status and growing the foundation’s membership. The Millers are passionate about their cause and look forward to the future of the Welcome Home Our Hero’s Foundation in this loving community.
“We are dedicated to make it work,” Patrick Miller tenderly said. “We are dedicated to make a difference.”
For more information about the Welcome Home Our Hero’s Foundation and the upcoming golf tournament to honor Christopher Hancock and Glenn Holloway visit www.welcomehomeourheros.com, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Patrick and Barb Miller at 200-4612.