Vail Veterans Program merges with Semper Fi & America’s Fund
the Vail Veterans Program started with a simple idea: to provide injured veterans with outdoor experiences in and around Vail. This idea becomes much, much bigger.
Effective March 31, the Vail Veterans program will merge with Semper Fi & America Funda non-profit group with the same mission – to provide assistance and emotional healing to injured US military veterans.
Vail Veterans Program founder Cheryl Jensen said the group’s “core programs” will remain in Vail. But the merger allows both groups to offer more.
“We continued to look for ways to deepen our impact,” Jensen said of the “long process” of finding a partner. Any merger had to be the right one, Jensen said. The groups were thoroughly checked financially and philosophically.
Semper Fi & America’s Fund fit the bill. This band has a four star rating on Charity Navigatorand is one of the few nonprofits to earn this designation.
More meaningful support
The merger will allow the Vail Veterans Program to provide meaningful support to alumni, Jensen said. This significant support from last year became “Our Continuing Mission”. This project began when COVID-19 put an end to in-person visits, providing direct financial support to families and caregivers of veterans. The program also helps provide emotional support and mentorship to veterans.
Even after restarting in-person visits this winter, the Vail Veterans Program has wanted to retain Our Continuing Mission as an important part of its services.
It was going to be a big, expensive job. This is where the Semper Fi & America’s Fund comes in. Since the group’s inception in 2004, it has provided more than $241 million to veterans and their families.
Jensen praised Karen Guenther, president and founder of the Semper Fi & Amrica fund.
“What I love is (Guenther) and I line up so much,” Jensen said.
In a statement announcing the merger, Guenther said the sentiment was mutual.
âWe have known (the Vail Veterans Program) since its inception and have deeply appreciated Cheryl and her team’s love and passion for this very special community,â Guenther said in the statement. “Hundreds of service members have already been helped by both organizations, so it feels like a natural evolutionary effort for our entire team.”
Jensen said the two programs naturally complement each other, adding that veterans participating in both groups will be eligible to participate in the other’s programs.
The Vail Veterans Program will continue to base its programs in and around Vail, Jensen said. And, she added, she will continue to serve the new, larger group as a member of an advisory board.
“The passion I have for this job doesn’t go away because we merged,” Jensen said.
“A phenomenal fusion”
A veteran who has benefited from both programs believes the merger is a good decision.
“The merger of two incredible organizations, the Semper Fi & America’s Fund and the Vail Veterans Program, in my humble opinion, is the merger of two veterans service organizations that epitomize selfless service,” wrote Greg Gadson, a Col. retired from the US Army. âBorn from the roots of humble patriots, the merger of these organizations will create a synergy that will benefit even more warriors and their families. These organizations have similar beginnings, grassroots organizations that harness the energy of our patriotic communities â it will be a phenomenal merger.
While Jensen is excited about the future of groups caring for injured veterans, she acknowledged that she has had moments of tears.
“It’s my baby, and I’m delivering it,” Jensen said. “But it’s the best organization we could partner with.”