Foundation of Freedom: PTSD Awareness & The PenFed Foundation

Foundation of Freedom: PTSD Awareness & The PenFed Foundation

Story by Liesel Schmidt | Photography Courtesy of The PenFed Foundation

These United States have been built on a foundation of freedom supported by a strong military presence and men and women who dedicate themselves each day to preserving our cherished way of life. As much as they give of themselves, it is still often a struggle to build a financially sound future for themselves and their families. Fortunately, organizations like PenFed Foundation are there to offer their support. “The mission of the Foundation is to empower military service members, veterans, and their communities with the skills and resources to realize financial stability and opportunity,” says General (Ret.) John W. Nicholson, who has held the position of President of PenFed Foundation since April of 2019. “We want to support this community to help prevent financial crises, help military and veterans have a home, and help veterans who want to build a business.”

Knowing the various ways in which active duty military personnel and veterans need assistance, PenFed Foundation has three core programs available. Launched in 2018, the Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP) helps veterans build their own businesses using a three-pronged approach that includes education, preparation, and investment. The Military Heroes Fund helps veterans prevent a crisis, providing emergency financial assistance and caregiver support. “We also launch emergency relief programs, such as a COVID-19 relief program in March 2020, which helped more than 560 veterans and service members experiencing a financial difficulty during the pandemic so far,” says Nicholson. The third core program offers closing cost and down payment assistance for the purchase of a first home. “We know that home ownership is a key marker of financial stability, so we help this become a reality for hundreds of families each year,” Nicholson notes.

For the countless men and women of the military and their families, rising to the call of duty often brings costs that aren’t readily seen. PTSD is a very real struggle that needs addressing, and PenFed Foundation offers their support to those suffering its effects and works to bring awareness—especially during June, PTSD Awareness Month.

“So many of our combat veterans experience different types of PTSD, which can impact their ability to hold jobs or create other challenges for them that limit their financial opportunity. Our Foundation is proud to help this community, in particular, through those financial challenges.' - General (Ret.) John W. Nicholson

“Our emergency financial assistance and caregiver support programs can help veterans who find themselves in financial need resulting, in part, from their PTSD. By helping caregivers with childcare assistance, they’re able to turn their attention away from worrying about financial stress and focus instead on making sure their veteran is able to get to VA appointments and receive the treatment they need. Additionally, our caregiver support program provides costs to cover additional training for caregivers who need a flexible work schedule or need to change careers to support their family. This helps ensure that veterans get the support from caregivers that they deserve.”

Created by the PenFed Credit Union leadership with a great deal of support from its membership in the DCUC, PenFed Foundation was established in 2001 and has since provided more than $38.5 million in financial support to veterans, active duty service members, families, and caregivers. The DCUC has supported various PenFed Foundation fundraising events and initiatives, most recently having donated to support PREVENTS, a VA-led partnership that focuses on a holistic public health approach to suicide prevention. “We especially appreciate the advocacy and leadership of Tony Hernandez at DCUC. It has been tremendous working with him,” says Nicholson.

In all the ways that our military serves this great nation, they deserve our support in achieving their financial goals. For PenFed Foundation, offering that support is a daily mission; and they’ve got boots on the ground.

For more information on PenFed Foundation, visit

'Credit unions are always focused on giving back to their members and communities. It is part of our ethos and the credit union difference. In fact, there are many credit union foundations across the United States that perform selfless acts of services along with providing needed support. For more information on how you can get involved, please contact your local credit union or the DCUC at' - Anthony Hernandez, CEO of Defense Credit Unioni Council
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