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Army Specialist Delicia Jackson was deployed to Iraq in 2003 as part of the first wave of soldiers to enter the country. She heroically served until an injury suffered in combat prematurely ended her military career. Delicia was medically discharged in 2004 and returned home to her husband, Shelton, and their eight children. Though she was happy to be back with her family, her injuries had taken a toll, and she was forced to make frequent trips to medical appointments. Eventually, her car broke down and, without enough money to repair it, she had to Uber to her appointments, stretching an already tight budget razor thin.

Then an unexpected gift changed everything. Through the Driven to Serve initiative, U.S. Bank has donated 29 vehicles to veterans in need, and Delicia was one of those recipients. “When I got the new car, it was truly a blessing,” said Delicia. The Driven to Serve initiative is just one of the many programs and commitments U.S. Bank has made to empower veterans like Delicia.

Operation Always Remember
Spc. Delicia Jackson and her husband, Shellton, receiving their basket from U.S. Bank Proud To Serve members Lea Gould and Vincent Bernatis.

Since 2013, U.S. Bank has donated 22 renovated, mortgage-free homes to veterans through the H.O.M.E. (Housing Opportunities after Military Engagement) program, a life-changing initiative that donates houses to veterans who need a place to call home. So far that’s a combined 4 million dollars’ worth of donations to those who have sacrificed for their country. Bryan Schrader, an Army parachutist and recipient of a house in 2019 as part of the H.O.M.E. program, described it in a way fellow parachutists could relate to. “These past few years, my family has been on a weather hold,” Brian explained. “This home is our green light.” Because of H.O.M.E., Bryan was able to pick up the pieces and restart his life.

U.S. Bank saw there was another crucial gap they could fill for veterans who had a house but were still struggling to make ends meet. That was the idea that sparked R.A.M.P. (Repair Assistance for Military Personnel), which addresses problems faced by veteran homeowners who are unable to make crucial home repairs. The R.A.M.P. program has completed nine renovation projects since 2017, giving new life to the homes of veterans and their families. And the work is ongoing, with five more home repair projects currently underway for 2021. 

These various programs and donations are emblematic of the gratitude we owe to the many veterans who served. There is a genuine commitment to never forget what they sacrificed. U.S. Bank has taken this commitment to heart and unveiled Operation Always Remember. To show 42 of the prior recipients of these programs that honoring and supporting our veterans is a continual endeavor, U.S. Bank is delivering care packages with gift cards for gas, home improvement stores, clothing, and even restaurants, worth up to $5,000. In addition, seven of those recipients will receive flagpoles to be installed at their homes. As Veterans Day approaches, Operation Always Remember stands as a symbol that this day of remembrance doesn’t mean anything unless we act and refuse to forget those who fought for their country. 

This acknowledgment was felt strongly by Navy veteran Joe Barrow. Two years after enlisting, Joe was diagnosed with brain cancer when he was only 21 years old. Joe went through an 18-hour surgery and, thankfully, made it out the other end safely. When he finally made it back home, the medical appointments continued, and every six months, he’s forced to make the 16-hour drive from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Bethesda, Maryland, for checkups. The problem was, Joe didn’t have a reliable vehicle.

Operation Always Remember
Navy veteran Joe Barrow receives a care package from Operation Always Remember.

The Driven to Serve initiative was able to provide Joe a vehicle, allowing him to make it to his appointments. Joe reflected on Veterans Day and what Driven to Serve and Operation Always Remember meant to him. “Veterans Day is … a time to pay our respects to our veterans who are still alive, our disabled veterans, our wounded veterans and our veterans who … weren’t deployed. They still wrote that blank check.” When presented with his care package from Operation Always Remember, Joe remarked, “It warms my heart to see that there are people who care about veterans.”

This Veterans Day join U.S. Bank in remembering Joe, Bryan, Delicia, and the thousands of others who gave their all for this country.

This article is made possible with support from U.S. Bank.

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