OC provides for basic hygiene along with a few items of comfort to combat troops
deployed to the remotest locations in the Global War on Terror...
those warriors at the "tip of the spear."

 
 

About Us

Operation Caregiver™ (OC) is a nationwide program operated under the Victory Fund of the Nice Guys (an IRS tax exempt 501-(c)-3 public charity) to supply relief to our troops at the "tip-of-the-spear"

These warriors (our sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, and spouses) live in the most primitive conditions. They live in foxholes, tents, Humvees or some unoccupied local structures without heating or air conditioning with temperatures ranging from sub-0 in the winter to 128 Fahrenheit in the summer. The dust storms are Biblical in scale. There are no fixed base facilities with creature comforts (no PX, no chow halls, no running water (no showers or sinks or flush toilets), no electricity), nor access to the mobile PX services. They may go months without a shower, a hot meal and they may run out of the basics of hygiene before re-supply is possible. It is truly a Spartan existence.

Operation Caregiver (OC) had its humble beginnings in 2004 when a friend of mine was deployed to Iraq with a USMC rifle company. I decided that I wanted to do something to support the troops. I wrote him and asked if there was anything I could send to make his deployment a bit less Spartan.  My friend emailed back that he would love some home-baked cookies. He added that, if possible, he’d like enough for 250 men! That request is not surprising for a senior NCO; they routinely put the welfare of the troops before their own.

I quickly realized that home-baked cookies for 250 would take more than just my oven to supply in a reasonable period of time. I spread the word where I live in Scripps Ranch in San Diego and my friends, neighbors and total strangers began dropping off home-baked cookies at my house to the point that it looked like a Keebler elf tree in my family room inside of a week. My kids and I packed it all up, along with letters of encouragement from donors, local Scouts and neighborhood school children, and we shipped it all to Iraq. I was told that the troops just loved it.

A few months passed. I asked my friend if he needed something else. He responded that he could use some more cookies, but if I could also get powdered drink mix, baby wipes (to bathe!) and Gold Bond powder that would be really appreciated. Again, if I could get enough for just (!) 250 men that would be great. This request was now clearly beyond my means. Once again, the call went out to everyone I could think of and the patriots in my neighborhood in Scripps. Once again, they all responded very generously. My kids and I packed and shipped it all to Iraq.

The next request was for a list of a dozen items of comfort and hygiene (now at 15 items) that could not be had where he was in Iraq (it sounded like the 5th level of Dante's, "Inferno"). I knew I would need to take this project to a bigger audience to have any hope of fulfilling this request.


I dubbed this new grass-roots support effort   “Operation Caregiver”
and the requested dozen items a “Caregiver Kit” and inertia has given it a life of its own.  My associates at work, my social contacts, my family, friends and neighbors all rallied and we raised money and accepted material donations as well. We went shopping at the PX and even the crew there worked miracles with the vendors to get price breaks on the Kit's items.

This first really big shipment was done in a restaurant dining room after a meeting of a local Irish men’s group. Since then, it had been done in my great room with a hoard of volunteers eating my wife’s home cooking. Now we use the local Reserve Center because of the size of the shipments.


I thought I was through after my buddy finally came home from his second deployment to "the sandbox". Two things happened to change my mind.

First off, I went to a Homecoming for the Third Battalion of the First Marine Division. While there, I went to use the head (toilet) in the barracks. There on a dry-erase board was written, "The Marine Corps is at war. America is still at the mall." I stared in disbelief at what I'd just read.

It struck me that this young Marine was communicating to anyone who would listen his belief that the Nation was oblivious to his service and that of his comrades, and even to the war itself. I was inspired by his blunt message to continue the meager efforts I had begun. I wanted to let this Marine, and any others I could reach, know that his fellow Americans do indeed know he is there and about the sacrifices he is making and, most importantly, that we do care and will support you. This Marine's simple message at first just inspired me to continue OC. Now it motivates me to stay engaged for as long as there are troops in harm's way.

The second fact that made me want to continue in this effort was that this little charity was apparently successful. We had donors who wanted to support us. The word about OC's Kits had now spread to other units and these units were asking for the same support. We had donors and we had recipients. I took it as a sign that we should continue the effort until we ran short of either the former or the latter (preferred).

This grass roots effort has been blessed in so many ways. Each time we faced an obstacle, the Lord provided in ways I could not have imagined. Six years later, we now have:

  • PX and Wal-Mart workers devoted to finding us great deals on the items.

  • businesses that donates all the packing supplies.

  • an army of volunteers who help sort materials and pack all the Kits.

  • a local USN-USMC Reserve Center that let's us pack the large shipments on-site.

  • a local Middle School writing letters of encouragement that we place in each cookie box.

  • transport of the materials before & after packing by volunteer local USMC Reservists.

  • local USPO workers who help us get this shipment done at the lowest cost.

  • an umbrella 501 (c) 3 charity that lets us accept tax-deductible donations.

  • all the necessary whatever and all the required paperwork done by the OC clerk (me).

  "We are deployed to the Al Anbar Province in Iraq, and have the city of  Ar Ramadi as our AO.  We recently suffered a loss and after the memorial, SgtMaj G. passed some of your care packages onto me so I could give them to the Marines of the platoon that lost their brother.  I took the care packages out to the Marines and told them the gifts were from a former Marine who still believes in what we are doing.  The items that you provided sir were given out by the platoon sergeant and were definitely appreciated. While the material items don’t last long, the thought of someone like yourself providing for us out here will last the deployment.  It never ceases to amaze me how much support today’s military receives from the veterans."

1stSgt S. L. M.
Wpns Co 1/9

Some corporations and community groups have responded favorably to requests for support and the list seems to be growing daily. In response to a recent interested donor's request for "our website", (we did not have one) two friends stepped forward to offer their services to create and maintain a website for Operation Caregiver.

Why am I telling you all this? Simple. I want you to know that every cent you give to this cause will be used to send more Caregiver Kits to the war zone. There is no office staff, no one is on salary; simply put, there is NO overhead . You will receive a personal thank you letter and a tax receipt from me for your donation.

More importantly, you may even hear from a young American halfway around the world thanking you for your note and the Kit. You see, it really matters to them when they get something from home from a total stranger; more so if it is filled with stuff they really need. It let's them know that some average American knows they are there and cares enough to send a little "comfort for those in harm's way." It stiffens their resolve in the midst of it all.

I think that fact alone makes all this effort worth all it takes. I hope you agree. Please keep Faith with this effort and send whatever support you can afford. We can't keep doing it without your commitment and contributions.

                    "Doc"                                                
           (Michael G. LaMar, MD, USN-Ret.)