Photo by Sal Veder – AP
Homefront Hugs – Where No Hero is Forgotten
January 1, 2017
Welcome to Homefront Hugs USA, a somewhat corny but loving name for an all volunteer organization with a heart and passion for inclusion and peace, weary of the useless reasons for division, ready for us all to find our common humanity, and a passion to give unconditional support to our brave troops, their courageous families and our amazing veterans.
Homefront Hugs was founded 14 plus years ago on October 11, 2001 ( my husband’s birthday and a little over a month after 9-11 ) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania . I was a former US Air Force pilot’s wife and daughter of Foreign Service & US Army Officer . Watching friends deploy and knowing there was such anger and sadness, I wanted to be able to positively make a difference for the sake of my son and healing for all of us .
At first, we were simply a small passionate group of volunteers and have now become a national volunteer organization with over 10,000 active members and almost 100,000 members in all. Sign up for our news updates through emails to keep updated on latest projects to support our heroes and make a difference in your community, while serving our troops and families, and helping in natural disasters and disaster relief where many times our troops are deployed and the amazing Red Cross. Just email us at HomefrontHugsUSA@aol.com.
We now have our final national headquarters in spectacular Ann Arbor, Michigan which is in the middle of the gorgeous Great Lakes, incredible sunsets, biking, golf, aviation, camping, fishing, skiing, music and art, farmer’s markets , art festivals , wildlife, cherry and tulip festivals, lighthouses, the brilliance of all 4 seasons, with some of the warmest, friendliest Americans and outstanding public schools and universities. Ann Arbor is my 2nd favorite city in the world, second only to quietly sparkling Charlevoix, Michigan which should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Charlevoix is a gem right outside of Traverse City – serene beauty with amazing townies who don’t mind when the fudgies (tourists) come but are happy to have their small jewel all to themselves too . I fell in love there with my husband Steve Schmidt after meeting him at the University of Michigan …before he joined the United States Air Force . Every season is breathtaking …and the residents are wonderful.
In the USA, we live among heroes from all religions and walks of life who have served our country humbly, courageously and we serve heroes all over the USA and world.
I am half Swiss so we love our 2nd homeland Switzerland too and all the wonderful memories especially of my late grandmother Ruth Hanmer -Schlaefli and her beautiful town of Solothurn. Homefront Hugs reminds me how this world can unite together for peace and how interconnected we all are and need to be for the sake of our children.
The world is a big place with our troops assigned all over, so we try to make it a bit smaller by reaching out to one another and their brave families. We need you. We need you wherever you live to help us support those heroes who need us most .
Whatever your age, race,culture ,sex, ability, sexual orientation ,religion,politics or passion, we need you and we respect you . There is a place for everyone here at Homefront Hugs from all walks of life .
Bottom line – you can help us from home – you can choose any mission, from writing a card to our wounded troops and their hero medical staff who care for them, adopting a deployed hero or heroine with too many now on our waiting list with the latest deployments, or adopting a wounded veteran now home, or their brave family dealing with one of these many long deployments. You can also help with our homeless veterans and helping vets find resources and employment. You can knit or quilt scarves, fingerless mittens , and lap blankets. You can do anything you wish in thanks for your freedoms and come up with your own ideas as well for you, your business, your family or friends…or even place of worship.
You can even be one of the first to start a Homefront Hugs Kids,Teen, Student or Seniors Club in your school , college or community supporting our heroes. The first Homefront Hugs Kids and Teen Club meeting was held in Gulf Breeze, Florida at our previous headquarters with a super response on March 15, 2010.
Forget any criticism of our youngest generation…they are fabulous . Just look on our Kids and Teen page at all the good they are doing everywhere ! If you do not have time, please consider telling others about us…we are still a small grass roots organization with headquarters in Michigan.
You can also start a club at your university . Amy Shah of Ann Arbor is the first to do so at University of Michigan this year – Go Blue ! Her sister Kimi has been busy at University of Pittsburgh working on projects with their VA with Operation Healing Angel and soon will be headed to med school .
No one receives a salary or any compensation here. We are all volunteers trying to make this war and so many conflicts more bearable for all, making sure no hero feels forgotten. We wish everyone a beautiful safe winter season and pray our heroes come home soon safe to their loved ones once their missions are complete. This is a very tough time for all military families who are dealing with deployments right in the middle of the holidays or on high alert with bags packed .
And when our veterans are home, we need to make sure their needs are not forgotten either. Homefront Hugs helps with those resources and helping vets acclimate ,getting through the red tape of the VA and DOD system for benefits, finding employment and knowing how to access all resources out there for them . We work with the entire family as they are all heroes before, during and after deployments.
This country cares – we just need to be part of the solution and support in thanks for our freedom and safety .
Let us hope for understanding and compassion for each other …for peace everywhere – in our hearts – families – neighborhoods. communities and countries. We began because of 9/11 when we stood united as Americans and with our allies against terrorism . We still stand united .
” Savor those special moments”, my best friend and husband Steve Schmidt would say holding me , a humble and wise veteran, awesome writer, golfer, and amazing US Air Force pilot from Charlevoix. Our marriage did not last due to a family tragedy and military deployment but I miss him every day .
One never knows how long one has on this Earth so the greatest tribute we can give to the sacrifices of our veterans, is to make the most of our lives , cherishing those we love, never giving up on our dreams, savoring the moments .
Freedom Endures. Freedom means sacrifice . It is now our turn to say thanks and give back especially with thousands deployed to Africa,Syria, Iraq, Qatar, Europe, South Korea, Japan, Kosovo, Kuwait,Afghanistan, Syria and all over the Middle East and world in our war against terrorism and our humanitarian efforts.
I am grateful every day that Steve made it back from Desert Storm safe and sound without any lasting wounds though sadly the loss of our twins in utero was too much for our marriage to sustain . We were a military family that needed the support Homefront Hugs now values and offers to hundreds of military families each day as well as our heroes in need.
Every wounded warrior or sick veteran we help reminds me this could have been Steve, or another loved one who has served . No hero should ever feel alone or forgotten and that is our mission here. Join us here in ensuring their sacrifices are always honored and our freedoms are never taken for granted .
Wishing you all the best in this 2016. Together we can make a real difference rejecting divisions and those who prefer to divide us from each other . Life is too short .
Sincerely yours in peace,
Alessandra and son Ed Kellermann (co-president)
- US Air Force Family
- Presidents and Founders of Homefront Hugs USA, Inc.
- Recipients of the Four Chaplains Award
- Recipients of Points of Light National Volunteer Award
- University of Michigan Alumnus 1988 (Alessandra)
- Mom is a proud Wolverine- GO BLUE Forever !
Ed Kellermann learned how short life is the hard way, as his father died of brain cancer and they never had enough time together . He helps run Homefront Hugs in memory of his father and hero – also a USAF veteran – combat pilot but never married to his mother as he had another family .
Ed ,now almost 18 ,hopes to pursue medicine and find a cure for brain cancer that was not there in time for his Dad. RIP Mad Dog.
OUR PHILOSOPHY FOR HOMEFRONT HUGS MISSIONS:
- Where Freedom Means Sacrifice and Freedom Endures (TM)
- Where No Hero is Forgotten (TM)
- Where our Heroes are Supported Without Conditions (TM)
- Where we honor and dedicate our missions to our World War II veterans who quietly and honorably served making sacrifices that few of us could ourselves even imagine .
- Where we honor Dr. Henry J. Kellermann, Homefront Hugs founder’s late grandfather, who helped to prosecute the Nazis at Nuremberg, re-educate the German brainwashed youth and taught his family , including Alessandra, of the endless sacrifices of our WWII veterans. May we never forget. He is honored at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC .
- Where we honor and dedicate our missions to USAF Gulf War veteran and pilot Steve Schmidt of Charlevoix, Michigan whose dedication and ability to beat the odds, keep a sense of humor, and meet any challenge. inspired us to begin Homefront Hugs. Steve is laid back, intelligent, caring who had the compassionate, kind heart of his American-Indian mother : Claire Rose Genia Schmidt , may she rest in peace. Claire keeps us all under her angel wings now . Alessandra chose to begin Homefront Hugs on Steve Schmidt’s birthday – October 11, 2001 in honor of their 7 years together as a couple, the twins they lost, and Steve’s brave service to our country especially during Desert Storm.
- Where we honor CW5 Dennis R. Bryson, USCG retired, who helped inspire missions at Homefront Hugs through his service in the Coast Guard, USCG sacrifices every day .
Where we dedicate our work to the late Representative Jim Oberstar of Minnesota who reminds us all what integrity means , a true American who was able to work across the aisle , supporting our troops especially our Coast Guard,helping us with safer aviation, and protecting our environment. Jim also worked steadfastly advocating for safe biking routes throughout small towns and cities . Rep Oberstar served on the Hill for 36 years never fitting the definition of the ugly politician . Jim valued his time with family most and is sorely missed. When we see a safe bike lane in any city especially Ann Arbor , we look up and thank Jim . When our founder, Alessandra, is challenged for a solution to help a wounded warrior or hurting military family or troops,she just asks herself: ” What would Jim do ?”
- Where each and every serviceman and woman is honored for their courage and faith volunteering to protect our freedoms and safety including our wounded warriors through Operation Healing Angel.
- Where Americans will never forget 9-11-2001 ,our hero troops and 1st responders , valuing how this country united that day in the hope we will unite again now as ISIS threats increase and more troops deploy .
- Where we attempt to make sure the shameful homecomings and treatment of our Vietnam veterans are never repeated. We honor our Vietnam veterans here and help any vet who needs us .
- Where we remember and honor the sacrifices of LTC Gary ” Mad Dog ” Ducote who served in the US Air Force for over 25 years as a combat pilot – and commander leaving this Earth way too early. His son, Ed Kellermann, runs Homefront Hugs in his honor too.
- Where we help our children remember how precious freedom is and help them thank our heroes finding ways to give back to their own communities in thanks for their freedoms . This focus on stewardship helps eliminate any fear, reminding our children they are safe and protected every single day by our 1st responders and our amazing troops .
Make a personal pledge to “Never Forget” with us today with a donation where 100% of your kind gift is used for our deployed troops and wounded warrior needs helping ensure no hero is forgotten. Not every serviceman or woman has someone who cares and tragically suicide rates are up in our veterans and active duty troops. Your gift in thanks to our veterans makes a big difference in the area of prevention and intervention . Click here to help:
We hope you don’t need our presidential candidates to motivate you to help Homefront Hugs as no one earns a penny here and 100% of your help goes to postage to ship care to deserving wounded warriors , sick veterans and deployed troops without any support .