It’s a lonely feeling: being by yourself, far from home during the holiday season. While military members are quick to adopt each other and celebrate “Friendsgiving” or a Christmas with buddies, nothing quite takes the place of being home for the holidays. And when the only thing coming between you and Grandma’s pumpkin pie is money? It makes it just that much harder.
That’s why the Armed Services YMCA and Jack Daniel Distillery have partnered again this year for Operation Ride Home, a program that helps active-duty members (E-4 and below) and their families afford travel home for the holidays. Operation Ride Home has a distinguished history of helping cash-strapped junior enlistees and their families since 2011. Last year, Operation Ride Home helped more than 770 military-affiliated people travel to the tune of more than $150,000.
Booking travel arrangements can take place between now and December 11 and funds are able to be used between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, meaning that service members can use the travel vouchers and pre-paid debit cards when they are given leave.
To participate, active-duty members must demonstrate need and be traveling at least 350 miles from their installation and must apply through their local Armed Services YMCA branch. If selected based on need, individuals will receive a $400 plane voucher per person or a $100 prepaid debit card per person, meant for gas, lodging, and food.