Experienced Veteran Goes the Distance to Lead Operation Homefront’s Efforts in Central Midwest
For Darcy Clardy, her need to serve others did not stop when she was medically discharged from the Air Force after seven years of service. For the past 12 years, Darcy has been serving in a different way.
As Operation Homefront’s Senior Director for Region 2, she manages a 12-state territory across the central Midwest, raises funds, and delivers programs for active-duty service members, Guard and Reserve members, and veterans in her area. She is responsible for a geographically large area that extends from the western edge of Nebraska and the Dakotas to Ohio, from Minnesota and Michigan to Missouri and everything in between. She has traveled many miles for events in her area, but she loves to go the distance for her fellow veterans.
During her Air Force years, both Darcy and her husband served, which sometimes created unique circumstances. Military deployments and temporary duty travels (TDYs) were more challenging as dual-military couples must have additional short- and long-term plans for their kids and pets. While stationed in California, her unit was deployed to Egypt for six months, but Darcy was unable to go as she was on a medical hold.
Since she was staying back, Darcy became involved in the unit’s “booster club,” which functioned like a Family Readiness Group to engage with family members throughout the deployment. The unit had a few dual military families, so Darcy quickly became involved in a few short-term plans, as well as serving as the caretaker for pets for some of the single service members who needed to deploy.
“It was tough not being able to deploy with my unit, but it was nice to have a different ‘mission’ while they were gone,” she said.
When Darcy medically discharged from the military, she came to work for Operation Homefront, which allows her to continue to serve by helping military and veteran families.
She loves everything about her job, but for Darcy the programs are her driving force.
“Interacting with the families and our volunteers is so rewarding and makes me so proud of what we do here at OH,” Darcy said. “This position (and organization) allows me to continue to learn from not only leadership and fellow staff, but also from the families we serve, our volunteers, and our partners!”
Darcy recalls a time during her earlier days at Operation Homefront when a family who contacted her when they were finally expecting their first child. The veteran had been injured during a deployment, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. When the veteran returned home, his spouse and parents came to Operation Homefront for help. Darcy’s granting committee approved some assistance for the family, and during her interactions with them, the spouse talked about how paralysis had impacted their ability to conceive, how daunting the treatments and in vitro fertilization were for them, and how they hoped they could someday have a child.
“It was so wonderful to not only hear that their dreams had come true but that OH had made such an impact that they wanted to share their news with our office,” Darcy said.
Darcy also remembers when she worked with a family from Milwaukee who were in the process of relocating back home after the veteran was medically discharged. The veteran was still undergoing treatment in Texas for sniper fire to his face, and the family had been chosen for one of Operation Homefront’s mortgage-free homes in the Milwaukee area. As part of the award, they were invited to a Tim McGraw concert, and McGraw planned to congratulate them on their new home. The concert was taking place during Summerfest, a 10-day music festival in Milwaukee drawing hundreds of thousands of people.
After learning the background and knowing the veteran’s issues with large crowds, Darcy was concerned this was not going to go well. In addition, the spouse was eight-and-a-half months pregnant, and the veteran was dealing with some significant medical issues, so Darcy was asked to attend with their caseworker. Darcy’s concern quickly turned into admiration as she watched this family.
“The veteran was so concerned for his wife being in the heat since she was so far along in the pregnancy, yet the large crowds were really challenging for him,” she said. “I watched his spouse recognize when his anxiety would increase and quickly turn his face to hers so he could only concentrate on her until he felt better. I was so impressed with them!”
To those considering reaching out to OH for help, Darcy says–call!
Even if Operation Homefront can’t help directly, caseworkers will do their best to help find other resources. Unfortunately, OH cannot help everyone, but it does its best to help those who need it the most.
“We can do more with the help and support of our donors and partners, so I encourage you to find out how you can get involved,” Darcy said.
Darcy believes that working at Operation Homefront has positively impacted her life by giving her many reasons to be thankful and to appreciate how small her issues are compared to those of so many others.
“Operation Homefront makes me humble and makes me want to do more, be more,” Darcy said. “And our Military Children of the Year (award-winning) kids make me want to be a better parent and to push my kids to do more and be more.”