Since its inception, Heroes In Transition (HIT) has committed itself to honoring Marine Captain Eric A. Jones’s memory by providing critical assistance to active service members, veterans, and military families in our region. During Military Appreciation Month and National PTSD Awareness Month, held annually in May and June, respectively, that commitment is redoubled to ensure individuals who sacrifice so much for our freedoms receive the support they need and deserve.
“Especially with Memorial Day in May, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by our military, and the importance of our work to help anyone who puts on a uniform to defend our freedoms,” said HIT Executive Director Nicole Spencer. “At HIT, we understand it’s not only active service members and veterans who need help, but their families who also endure the impacts of deployments and frequent relocations.”
HIT was formed by Cyndy and the late Kenneth Jones when their only son, Eric Jones, died in a helicopter crash in October 2009 while flying a combat mission in Afghanistan. The nonprofit carries on Eric’s mission by providing support to individuals who are serving and have served our country as well as their loved ones.
The organization has grown under Spencer’s direction, adding nearly a half dozen programs and two major fundraisers since she was named its first-ever executive director in 2016. Those programs are aimed at offering healing, strengthening relationships, building community, and empowering individuals. Among the new initiatives are a Spring and Fall Couples Retreat; separate outings for veterans and service members, military couples, military families, and military spouses every other month; and an equine therapy program for veterans.
Spencer credited HIT’s Community Partners, Cape Cod 5 and The Lobster Trap, for providing the organization with consistent year-round funding that has allowed it to add this deeper layer of assistance to the individuals and families it serves.
Cape Cod 5 has been a longtime supporter of HIT, dating back to the nonprofit’s 2nd Annual Fall Gala in 2011. It was then that former Bank CEO and current Executive Chair of Cape Cod 5’s Board, Dorothy Savarese, asserted the Bank’s commitment to supporting Heroes In Transition, which has continued over the last decade. That support was buoyed last year when Cape Cod 5 stepped up to become a Community Partner.
“Everything Heroes in Transition is doing is making a difference,” said Cape Cod 5 CEO Matt Burke, an Army National Guard veteran who served in the Iraq War. “When you’re in the military you have a support structure, but when you transition back to civilian life, especially if you’ve served a significant period of time, you lose that. It can be difficult to make that transition. Through the programs HIT provides, they are bringing people together – service members, veterans, military spouses, and families – and providing a sense of familial support. I wish there were more organizations like Heroes In Transition.”
Cape Cod 5 has long served as a champion for veterans- and military-related causes. It offers banking programs targeted toward service members and veterans; participates in Red Shirt Fridays to honor members of the military; uses their Banking Centers to serve as drop off locations every November so the community can send care packages to troops deployed overseas; and provides philanthropic support to organizations who serve members of the military, both past and present, and their families.
“It’s not surprising that the Bank was one of the first businesses in our region to step up as a Community Partner for Heroes In Transition,” Spencer said. “Cape Cod 5 has always been a leader when it comes to identifying and serving community needs, and we’ve seen that consistently with its efforts to give back to service members, veterans and military families.”
It’s a similar story with The Lobster Trap whose owner, David Delancey, has been passionate about giving back to organizations like HIT. “My greatest hero in my life was my grandfather who was a Marine paratrooper in World War II and who served in the Navy in the Korean War,” he said.
Through the years, he has organized an annual Oyster Bash in the fall to raise funds for HIT. When the Bourne restaurant celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019, it held a party with proceeds going to benefit Heroes In Transition’s programs. And during the entire month of November in 2020, it donated $1 to HIT from every brunch item sold and then matched that amount.
“We always like being in the community and giving back,” Delancey said. “We get so much support from local residents and our local community. I never dreamed in a million years I’d be living life the way I am so it’s important for me to give back and help others.”
With Military Appreciation Month now over, Spencer is hopeful that other businesses will follow the examples being set by Cape Cod 5 and The Lobster Trap and work to make honoring and supporting our active service members, veterans, and military families a year-round commitment.
“That is exactly why we set up our Community Partner program,” Spencer said. “We want to remind business leaders that they can provide year-round support for those who sacrifice so much for our country.”
To learn more about becoming a Community Partner, email Nicole Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.