Deb Quackenbush McElhinney is the Founder/CEO of American Military Family. Her heart and passion for our military and their families stems from 1968 when her brother and his friends were deployed to the war zone of Vietnam. The 60's were turbulent times and the anger and hatred directed to those who were serving was unfathomable. In January 2005 she started American Military Family with the sole intent of educating the population about the importance of SHOWING their unconditional support for America's troops and their families. The first two (2) years of the charity were spent working with the Colorado State Legislature in direct support of Senate Bill 080 to convince them of the need for a "Colorado Supports the Troops" license plate. We testified before every committee in the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado State Senate about the importance of this plate. 93% of every dollar raised in this program is returned directly to our veterans, troops and their families. The middle of this plate has a yellow "THANK YOU" ribbon which SHOWS our support for those who serve and sacrifice for our country and our freedom!
In 2006, Debbie was invited to a personal meeting with President George W. Bush and was recognized and honored for her service working in support of our military and their families. Later that year, she was invited to meet with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the other team members of the America Supports You campaign. Since 2005, American Military Family has received over 25 certificates and plaques of recognition and appreciation for services rendered in support of our veterans, troops and their families.
Since January 2005, American Military Family has provided a multitude of services for our veterans, troops and their families through a host of programs. We have returned over $500,000.00 in emergency financial and mental health therapy assistance. We have provided for the entertainment of over 2,500 troops and their families, including live family reunions from Iraq and Afghanistan, and facilitated a recreational center in Iraq for the 4th Infantry Division which included computers, videos and games, pool table, dart boards, furniture and DVD players. Additionally, we have provided over $35,000 in gift cards to our veterans and their families who were struggling with financial issues and provided over 15,000 toys for the familes at Fort Carson during the holiday season.
We have presented five (5) veterans and their families with a complete home makeover and modifications to provide handicap accessibility for these veterans and spent five (5) years working in direct support of our Gold Star (Fallen Heroes) mothers. In 2009, members of the American Military Family team walked 1,080 miles, from Ft. Carson, Colorado to the Middle East Conflicts Memorial Wall in Marseilles, Illinois, to raise awareness and provide closure for the families of our fallen warriors in the Global War on Terror in the Iraq, Afghanistan and other battlefields. We spent four (4) consecutive years working in direct support of the Fort Carson Wounded Warrior Transition Battalion (WTU), where we experienced the bitter agony of seven (7) suicides by combat veterans in six (6) months. We have hosted over 30 military memorial services to honor our fallen heroes.
Today our mission at American Military Family is to STOP VETERAN SUICIDE through a comprehensive program entitled, American Military Family Got Your Six (GY6). In the military, "Got Your Six" means "I've got your back." This program addresses the seven (7) critical reintegration issues facing our Iraq/Afghanistan veterans:
• Financial Stressors
• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
• Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
• Receipt of Earned Veterans Benefits
• Job Reintegration
• Legal Issues
• Societal/Personal Relationship Dissonance
WE MUST STOP VETERAN SUICIDE!