Petty Officer Thomas Trujillo with the United States Naval Reserves recently visited Sweetwater Elks’ Lodge #1257 on his “Walk Across America”. He is the President and Founder of the nonprofit One Soldiers Dream. He started a walk across the United States on February 1, 2011 at the Santa Monica Pier in California, and his destination is Washington, DC. He is doing this walk to get the nonprofit’s name out to the national public as quickly as possible. Finding the members of the Sweetwater Lodge to be a family of caring and sharing ELKS, he spent the weekend with them and attended an officers’ meeting and InterLodge in Wichita Falls. One Soldiers Dream is a 501(c)(3) public nonprofit organization formed in order to bridge the entire gap of everything that is lacking for the care of our frontline soldiers, their families back home and disabled or homeless veterans.
For the frontline soldiers, they provide funding for round trip plane tickets home for emergency leave. Currently, soldiers have to pay for their flights out of pocket. It can cost from $1,000 to $3,000 for a ticket home from the Middle East, and the price can be more for a short notice flight. Soldiers also need money for additional safety gear, such as quality Camelback water containers, knives, a compass and premium flashlights. They would also like to provide “morale boosting” meals and entertainment from the United States.
One Soldiers Dream will also provide funding for emergency situations for the soldiers' families back home, including emergency food assistance, vehicle repair, appliance repair and home maintenance repair. One Soldiers Dream will act as a subsidy for the VA, covering things that are not currently provided to veterans and to also assist the homeless veterans by proving temporary shelter, clothing and food.
Petty Officer Trujillo is a two-consecutive tour war veteran, spending both tours in Iraq and at the Iraq/Kuwait border vehicle check point. He has a total of 14 years combined service; six years active duty with the US Air Force, and eight years duty US Naval Reserve. He is currently on a “no drill /no deploy status” due to unexplained nerve damage to his inner left thigh. He suffers about 5 to 20 attacks a day, with each attack lasting about 15 seconds. After the attack has subsided, there is no residual pain or tenderness to the area. He has been prescribed a strong neurological medication to control the pain. Even though this injury may have limited his ability to perform military duties, he is confident he can still complete the walk across the United States.
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), there are approximately 1.5 million nonprofits currently in the U.S., that are all competing for the same donation. One Soldiers Dream has to set itself apart from the pack in order to get their name and cause known in order to receive these donations. The more funds they can raise, the more soldiers and veterans they can help. This is why they are doing the walk across America — to get national attention as quickly as possible. The need is immediate. The operating cost is 10 percent and 90 percent of all donations will go towards those in need.
Petty Officer Trujillo is quoted as saying, “I am doing this walk to help my fellow soldiers and their families during the tough times of deployment. After two deployments, I am fully aware of the difficulties that arise during deployment, and how these circumstances directly affect the soldiers and their families. Never before has a nonprofit organization been formed to bridge the entire gap of everything that is missing in order to take care of our frontline soldiers, their families back home and disabled or homeless veterans. I am asking for the support of the American people. If you support the military members, please support me now, so I can make things right. I also ask for your prayers and God speed in completing this large task at hand.”