Brandon Nichols of LeClaire helps heroes get home.
Nichols, a veteran himself, and fellow Navy veteran Casey Maust, also of LeClaire, are the founders of Getting Heroes Home. The nonprofit group does exactly what its name says: Provide emergency travel accommodations for military personnel to get home for holidays, special life events or funerals.
Both Nichols, 34, and Maust, 33, learned about a serviceman who wanted to get home for Christmas but couldn’t find a program to provide the money for his travel.
“We kept having discussions about what organization might be able to help," Nichols said. “Then we thought, 'Why don’t we just do it ourselves?'”
"We’re trying to fill in all the gaps,” he added.
Nichols served nine years in the Navy, and Maust still serves in the Navy Reserves. Both are operations instructors at Exelon.
They run the nonprofit out of their hometown using their own funds to get it started. Recently, they have held some fundraisers in the Quad-City area, and they do some social-media marketing to create awareness.
Another fundraiser will be 5-8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 19, at The Tangled Wood, Bettendorf.
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“Our biggest challenge is letting people in the military know we exist, period,” Nichols said.
They are talking to recruiters and attending events where veterans are on hand.
Their first “client” was an uncle who wanted to visit his niece who was in hospice care.
“We’re trying to get our name out to military people,” Nichols said, adding that flights are expensive when you find out you have leave on short notice.
“You might get home but you use all your savings to pay for it,” he said.
Any active-duty military member can apply through the organization's website at https://gettingheroeshome.org/
The co-founders hope to provide for at least 10 military members to get home for Christmas this year.
For more information, visit https://gettingheroeshome.org/.