By Nancy Alspaugh-Jackson, Executive Director, ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment)
We are often asked why ACT Today! (Autism Care and Treatment) has a special program called ACT Today! for Military Families. 8 years ago I received an email that touched my heart. It was from an autism mom and wife of a Marine colonel named Karen Driscoll who wrote of the many challenges facing military families raising a child with autism.
Moving on average every 2 years, the mobile military faces a complex maze of services at each new duty station. Imagine having supports in place and then having to start all over again to build a support system with schools and other services. The financial strains on the military family are enormous as well, on very limited salaries. And often times a parent is deployed, leaving a spouse at home to shoulder the significant burdens.
“Every military family makes special sacrifices that few who have ever watched a spouse or parent go to war can fully appreciate” said Major General Mike Lehnert. “Those families with children who have been diagnosed with autism have additional stresses as they cope with an extraordinarily complex bureaucracy to secure the support these precious children deserve.”
After reading the email, we decided that very day to start this special program and are now proud to say we have raised over $700,000 for autism care and treatment for military families. Our signature fundraising event, the 8th Annual ONEHOPE ACT Today! for Military Families 5k/10k and Family Festival will be held on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at Tecolote Shores in San Diego. This race has truly become a favorite event among runners, military families and the autism community.
Since our inception, we have received many letters of gratitude from the families who have received grants from this program.
“I apologize for not writing sooner. My husband has been away for military exercises, so my hands have been really full. I just wanted to let you all know how extremely grateful I am to your organization. The grant you gave our family is truly amazing. My son with autism, Timmy, has been able to participate in therapeutic horse riding. His progress has been remarkable, his confidence, balance, attention, and social skills are improving.”
– Tim, Emily, Joel, Ben and Timothy, Jr.
“One of our biggest worries was our yard was not fenced, we worried about our child that escapes…ACT Today! awarded us a grant for $2,525.00 to provide fencing for our home. We hung up the phone in shock that this happened. There are angels on this earth. We never know the form they are going to take. Every day we experience so many trials it is hard to remember the good things — this organization is one of the good things.”
– Camille and Caragh’s family, Dad US Navy
Our all-volunteer forces who serve this nation, in particularly those with special needs children, deserve to be cared for, and we are honored to be able to answer the call.