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VETERANS RECOVERY PROJECT

Our recovery fund will be restricted. Several of our guests have volunteered to join our oversight committee to help raise and distribute the funds. We will post the names and ranks of the committee upon their return to the states as many are still traveling. 

 

The funds will be held and only distributed to the following:

 

Those who had out-of-pocket expenses in Costa Rica within the budget that was given to them.

 

Refunds are to be issued for travel programs between July and the end of December 2023 that we will cancel so we can recover and rebuild. 

 

If you were in Costa in July and have out-of-pocket expenses, please submit a request for reimbursement along with your receipts. Please complete the following form:

 

If you have contributed to receive benefits from any of our travel programs until the end of 2023, we are going to reimburse you in full. Please complete the following form:  

 

 

If you would like to donate to our recovery project to help us recover and rebuild, please do so by clicking below: 

Once the storm ended and the sun came up, many of our couples made the best of their time in Costa Rica. We thank them all for their compassion, understanding, and grace. We hope to recover what was lost. We cannot compensate them for the mental health agony and stress inflicted. Yet, what we can do is to make sure their unexpected expenses are reimbursed. 

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FUNDS SPENT ON COSTA RICA

CLICK TO SEE AN EXPANDED VERSION OF THE DOCUMENT

Dear Community:

 

When we arrived in Costa Rica after spending $75K+ to get everyone here for the couple's retreat a major storm/flood hit our area on the afternoon of our arrival. We had about 40 people on the ground, and 18 were on their way. Some of the Air B and B lodging accommodations we had secured were in the center of the flood, and some were too far to travel to due to road closures. We figured out a way to get everyone to take shelter in our main house and some nearby hotels. It is expected that some would choose to ignore the danger and consequences of moving around when a dangerous situation takes place. It even happens in the states. 

 

When I went to drop off two of the couples at their lodging, we ended up getting stuck in flood and rain. Rocks were coming down, and trees were falling. I sent a message to Maria at base camp and told her not to move anyone and have them stay within walking distance, and at base camp, where we had a few rooms until the flood, rain, and storm ended. That is when everything went south. 

 

I was stuck in the car with two couples. They were very gracious and knew the situation could not be helped. We finally found a restaurant and took shelter. But some of the guests did not understand the severity of the condition until later in the evening. Somehow, they thought I had run away or avoided them, but Mark, Maria Sorden, Dwayne Jechart, and Leticia Metz were in the car and saw the whole thing unfold. Finally, we took shelter at a restaurant with no internet and barely a phone signal. After hours of waiting and witnessing the relentless rain and storm, the locals helped us find a couple of rooms as it was impossible to drive forward or backward. It was dangerous.

Only one month ago a storm that hit the same area placed many people in danger and injured countless people. Last year on the same month two Americans were killed along with some locals. Houses were flooded and many people were injured. 

 

I sent messages to base camp, conveying that everyone's safety was the most critical part of the situation. We began shifting gear attempting to place as many guests in hotels. Many had to pay for their new accommodations as going to local air b and bs was no longer an option. Our budget was limited and we needed to use what we had for better accommodations that kept everyone safe. When the morning came, we managed to make it back to the city, but the road closures and the storm's aftermath clearly indicated the situation could not be taken lightly. 

 

I did what I needed to do in order to see this through. But the truth is that we did not raise the money for it due to post COVID climate. This is 100% undisputable because there are personal credit card charges that add up to proof of $43K+ spent outside organizational funds. The total spent is more than $75K. So, the Math is clear. In addition, we spent more than two times the amount everyone paid for up until the point the storm hit. Nonetheless, it was my responsibility to take care of them. 

 

We knew there might be some glitches along the way since were in a third world country but nothing to this extent. I am certain one of the main issues is that post-covid, we got into a travel program spree due to our inability to plan the large events that we used to plan before Covid. But since we had already spent so much on this program, there was no going back. The most important thing was to see it through. However, having a travel program without a contingency plan is never a good idea. But due to our limited budget we did not have much choice. 

 

We walked in after a full day of damage control and moving everyone around, and that is when we witnessed the world going dark.

 

The news had reached our members in the United States. Countless credit card disputes had come in for upcoming Costa Rica retreats. The funds we had to see the retreat through were impacted by the additional cost of finding new accommodation and new transportation options, as well as an ocean of disputes as Costa Rica was no longer an option for future travel. 

 

So, I would like to provide you with some facts: 

 

  1. There were guests with missed flights and delayed flights who had no idea about the flood. As they were coming in, we needed to brief them on what was going on and why and try to make their arrival as painless as possible. These conversations and adjustments take hours of our time. 

  2. A few were traveling with family so they chose to pay out of pocket to stay in San Jose as the roads were dangerous. 

  3. Several couples agreed to pay our of pocket to stay at safer hotels instead of local houses. 

  4. We cancelled all activities. 

  5. 90% of the couples took a meeting with us; we made plans to re-strategize, and we all came to some conclusions. We canceled the activities and allowed everyone to receive a budget to book their own activities and receive reimbursement. 90% agreed. The disputes in the middle of this chaotic mess are about to drain our account on the next business day.

  6. We canceled 4 air B and Bs and there are still two uncanceled ones that people did not want to go to. It was the right thing to do as those accommodations were no longer safe.  

 

When you see your house burning down, all you can do is watch it disappear before your eyes. But in order to be made whole again, you think of all the things you did wrong and apply those lessons when you rebuild. 

 

We need to raise funds for the funds we ended up spending on accommodations that were not expected, such as hotels and nearby houses, due to the dangerous situation created by the flood. In addition, we need to reimburse everyone who has paid into this retreat and ALL retreats and travel. Most importantly, our guests' sacrifices to secure their own accommodations so they can be safe cannot be overlooked. We want to make these veteran couples financially whole as some of the expenses post-flood were unexpected to them. 

 

The only program that we can keep are the ones with restricted funds which are the Europe trips. Every other program that we had will be canceled until January 1, 2023. We will then go back to what made us successful for the first 5 years before Covid, which is the 8th Annual Veterans Awards. 

 

This is what we ask of all of you: 

 

It is up to you to do as you wish as a reaction to where we are as a nonprofit. However, if we can ask for your grace to not dispute any charges, we will make you financially whole in the coming months. We need a chance to rebuild. After Covid, so many businesses closed, but I managed to keep us going, as I did not want to take the easy way out. 

 

We are going to apply for government grants and an EIDL loan upon our return. It will take some time, but it is designed for situations like this. We have all the proof that this has happened post-pandemic, and the decisions I made were of good intentions to keep going. 

 

However, if credit card disputes begin to drain us even more, we will be forced to file for bankruptcy. Every attempt to hurt us out of malice will only make matters worse. If we end up filing for bankruptcy, we will not be able to receive government grants or any type of aid to make this right. Therefore, it would mean no refunds for anyone at all.  

 

I can say this with complete confidence; I may be guilty of having made a poor business decision by keeping things going because I was unaware of the new sociatial and financial climate we would face and push to keep going. Still, my intention was never to make life difficult for anyone or mislead. If that was my intention, I would not have put my financial well-being and mental health at risk so many times over the years. 

 

So, here is the plan to rebuild: 

 

  1. We will cancel ALL travel programs until January 1, 2023. We will send out an official reimbursement form to include in the grants and request funding from SBA and other entities so everyone is accounted for. 

  2. Meanwhile, we will begin a traditional fundraising campaign to recover your funds while we wait for larger sums of funds. For such funds, we will create a restricted account that will be only for this purpose and cannot be touched. We then will begin a payment plan process until every dollar you have paid into the programs is paid back. 

  3. The new recovery project will require an oversight committee. So, if you would like to join the governing board and volunteer to help us with the distribution and raising of the funds, please let me know. 

  4. The next program that will take place is the 8th Annual Veterans Awards, which made us an organization seven years ago. That event will take place in January. 

  5. The only programs that will stand are our Europe trips because they are funded with restricted donations. 

  6. Everyone who has donated toward retreats, flights, and travel other than Europe trips can request a refund through a site that I will open up as soon as we are done with it later today. 

  7. Our attempt is to rebuild and return funds for programs that were impacted by this new turn of events. Therefore, we ask everyone to please give us a chance and not dispute the charges. Because if that happens, our merchant will close, and we will be so far deep in the negative (red) that we will not be able to rebuild and recover. If that happens, bankruptcy is the only option. 

  8. Many claim their rage is due to their "care" for the community. Well, if they genuinely care about the community, they would cease hurting an entity that is trying to do right by the community. 

  9. We also need a social media committee to monitor false statements and malicious attempts. Such acts must be shared with the community so that we can decide what to do as a family. 

 

It has been a rough few days. The level of mental health impact is beyond measure. 

 

Lastly, I want to apologize from the bottom of my heart that I have failed our community. . This organization has saved my life. It needed a new plan after Covid, yet that only lasted a short while. I would very much like to go back to the entity that it was two years ago with celebrity support, our Annual Veterans Awards, and yearly movie screenings. But I cannot do it alone. It will take a village. I need all of you to participate. This organization, while founded by me, does not belong to me. It belongs to you. 

 

 

Warmest regards,

Assal Ravandi 

United States Army Afghanistan Veteran 

M.A. in Ed, & H.D.

M.A. in Strategic Public Relations  

President | CEO

Academy of United States Veterans Foundation

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IN PARTNERSHIP WITH
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AUSV and Check-6 Foundation partnered back in April 2020 with the goal to help as many veterans who saw a significant decrease in income or loss of income completely, due to COVID-19.

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Since April 2020  the Recovery Project has helped fund over 60 veteran households in need across the Nation. 

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WHAT IS COVID-19 RECOVERY PROJECT

We want to do everything we can to make sure the community of veterans we serve and their families have the support of all of us to get through the storm with dignity. The project will screen applications to verify and confirm that the individuals meet the hardship criteria we have set for those whom can benefit from our recovery project. 

While we want to help everyone who seeks assistance during this time of crisis, we need your support to ensure that we meet the needs of our community members who reach out to us for financial assistance. 

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WHO BENEFITS

Nearly one-fourth of the households are Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed. IN SHORT: They have no savings to help in a time of crisis.

As a veterans advocacy organization we felt that it is our obligation to do our part in helping veterans who have lost income and were placed in financial hardships  due to the COVID-19  pandemic. 

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HOW WE HELP

Veterans who have lost life altering income due to COVID-19 pandemic can submit a request for assistance through this portal. Our team will screen all applicants diligently  to help those  in need with essential funding for rent, electricity and water bills, food and out of pocket prescription cost. 

Direct payments will not be made to veterans. All funding will be paid directly to the entities to which veterans owe. 

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HOW YOU CAN HELP

YOU donate $50 = One week of groceries for one veteran.

WE place your name on the wall of honor at the 6th Annual Veterans Awards placed at the arrivals on the red carpet

YOU donate $500 = One week of groceries for a small family. 

WE give you one weekend at the luxurious five star resort Wynn/Encore in Las Vegas. Two nights of hotel, meals included, airport pickup and drop off. All you have to do is get there and we will do the rest with a full weekend on activities in Summer 2021.

YOU donate $1000 = Sponsor a small family  (Groceries,Rent, Utilities and Daily Essentials)

WE give you one weekend at the luxurious five star resort Wynn/Encore in Las Vegas. Two nights of hotel, meals included, airport pickup and drop off. All you have to do is get there and we will do the rest with a full weekend on activities in Summer 2021.

AND an annual Diamond Membership.

DONATE HERE

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HOW TO APPLY

If you are a veteran and have lost your income due to COVID-19 crisis you may submit a request for assistance by submitting your request below. 

Please be advised that your loss of employment must prove to be directly related to COVID-19 crisis and your employer's inability to sustain your employment due to financial hardship of the business.

APPLY HERE

For any assistance on completing the application or questions you may have, please contact:

Katie Katz, Director of Public Relations and External Affairs 

katie@vettys.org

702.835.9270

MILITARY 

SUICIDES

have increased by as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019.

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As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the effects on Veterans have been exceptionally difficult. Constant isolation, worrying about family members getting sick, and job loss can easily trigger PTSD making it very difficult to accomplish any day-to-day task.

18 MILLION VETERANS IN THE U.S.

...comprising 7.1% of the population. Half of all U.S. veterans are aged 65 years or older. Among those between ages 18 to 64, 77% are in the labor force, actively employed or seeking work. The other 23% consist of students, and disabled, retired or unemployed veterans.

POVERTY

The veteran poverty rate was 6.7% in 2019 where ages from 18 to 34 are higher than all other age groups.

Post-9/11, World War II, and peacetime era Veterans have higher poverty rates than other periods of service.