USOA Ms. Pennsylvania from Birdsboro grants veterans’ wishes
Brianne Houck established nonprofit organization American Hero Wishes
USOA Ms. Pennsylvania 2022 Brianne Houck, an Army veteran from Birdsboro, recently launched American Hero Wishes, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for severely wounded veterans.
“I hope this organization not only benefits and uplifts our wounded veterans that much more but that it galvanizes more people, in general, to support the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms!” said Houck.
Her goal is to grant a minimum of 12 wishes to severely wounded veterans across Pennsylvania by the end of 2022 as part of her Ms. Pennsylvania 2022 platform which is Operation Helping Our Heroes, dedicated to the men and women who have served and are serving in the military.
“From there, my goal, as the founder of this organization, is to see that number of wishes granted consistently increase year over year and, as mentioned previously, to expand beyond the boundaries of Pennsylvania.”
Wishes may include (but are not limited to) trips, signed sports jerseys, room remodel, exquisite meals, etc.
“We want it to be something that our veteran recipients will treasure and remember always,” she said.
A veteran herself, Houck attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point after graduating from Daniel Boone High School in June 2002. She served on active duty in the Army from July 2002 until health concerns discontinued her military service in August 2005. During her service, she received the National Service Medal.
Her USOA Ms. Pennsylvania platform is Operation Helping Our Heroes dedicated to the men and women who have served and are serving in the military.
Houck is a mentor for Veterati, a free mentorship service for veterans transitioning to civilian careers, and she advocates for organizations, including USO, Wounded Warrior Project, Soldiers’ Angels, and Team Red, White & Blue.
“As a veteran myself, coming from a family with a military background, and as someone who has been actively involved with veterans who are transitioning to civilian careers, I understand how difficult it can be to try to acclimate to civilian life again once you’re not serving any longer,” said Houck.
With that in perspective, she took into consideration how exponentially more challenging it must be to acclimate back to civilian life while also carrying permanent wounds.
“I have worked with Wounded Warrior Project for several years now, and I know and have met veterans who have been wounded to the point that their lives will never be the same,” she said. “We have men and women who lose limbs and may be confined to a bed and/or wheelchair of some type for the rest of their days.”
Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, approximately 300,000 men and women have suffered traumatic brain injury, and that’s just since 9/11, she said.
“As someone who is passionate about supporting our active-duty military personnel and our veterans, I knew that there was more I could do personally to ensure our wounded veterans never doubt how much they and their service are appreciated!”
“Thus, I sprang into action with creating American Hero Wishes.”
An established 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, American Hero Wishes is similar in concept to Make a Wish Foundation except it is solely intended to grant the wishes of severely wounded veterans who were wounded either physically, mentally, or both while serving.
“The purpose of granting a wish of a severely wounded veteran is to uplift them and encourage them in moving on to their next mission in life — whatever that may be,” she said.
Looking forward, she plans to expand American Hero Wishes to across the country “to positively impact and uplift as many wounded veterans as possible. I want them to know how much they’re revered, supported, and loved by their country for what they have done for us.”
Nominate a Veteran
A veteran cam be nominated via the website www.americanherowishes.org. Click on “Nominate a Hero” and provide background information about their time in service (to be verified with the veteran’s respective DD-214) as well as a brief description of the wounds they sustained, the overall impact the wound(s) had on their lives, and what having a wish granted would mean for them. The American Hero Wishes board members will review nominations and select a veteran to receive a wish.
“From that point, we will ask for three potential wishes from that veteran that would just have an overwhelmingly positive impact for him or her,” said Houck.
The board members will then vote upon which wish will be granted.
“We hope to receive nominations as soon as possible! We are very much looking forward to getting started to support our wounded veterans!”
Fundraisers and Donations
Fundraising efforts will help support the wishes.
“I’m very honored and excited to say we will be partnering with the Junior League of Reading on a service project to help with fundraising for American Hero Wishes!”
The Junior League of Reading, a nonprofit organization that focuses on empowering female youth and teaching them valuable leadership skills, will be completing a service project, creating patriotic art pieces that will then be auctioned, with the funds directly supporting wishes for American Hero Wishes.
“I just want to express my sincerest gratitude to the community for the support thus far and for any and all support in the future.”
Other fundraisers will be held as well to build funds that will help to grant the most once-in-a-lifetime wishes for wounded veterans. The non-profit is also accepting donations.
“The response thus far has been nothing less than positive from those individuals who have learned of American Hero Wishes’ mission and the reason for its inception. It’s another opportunity to honor our veterans (specifically veterans who have been seriously wounded) who did sacrifice so much for us and our country,” said Houck.
“I just want to express my sincerest gratitude to the community for the support thus far and for any and all support in the future!”
Follow American Hero Wishes on social media (Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn). For any questions, contact American Hero Wishes at info@ americanherowishes.org. To nominate a veteran, visit www.americanherowishes.org and click on “Nominate a Hero.”