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Foundation would support groups that support veterans

By Cynthia Lescalleet
Memorial Examiner

John Carloss, Founder of Operation American Heroes and owner of Venetian Blind & Floor & Carpet One
John Carloss, founder of Operation American Heroes Foundation and owner of Venetian Blind & Floor & Carpet One, is determined to forge a financial safety net to help existing veteran support organizations.

Houston is generous and its people patriotic, which is why a group of business and civic leaders has been laying the groundwork for a new foundation to support those who serve us, whether in the military or emergency services.

Aiming for a national presence to be based here, the fledgling Operation American Heroes Foundation challenges all citizens and businesses to support its mission, which is to funnel funds to existing organizations helping veterans as well as police, fire and emergency personnel and other first responders.

Founded last fall by John Carloss, a Vietnam veteran who owns Venetian Blind & Floor & Carpet One, the foundation initiative is seeking nonprofit status. Its goal is to be in place by Veterans Day.

Its intent is to support organizations already providing assistance so that they aren’t bogged down in the fundraising side of their operations, he said, sort of like the United Way boosts social service agency efficacy.

“They’re service providers, not fund-raisers,” he said. “We’ll take that off the table for those organizations.” Some of them are spending more than a third of what they receive on raising money, he said.

Another goal is to strengthen the overall sense of patriotism, he said, and to “separate the politics from the soldiers.”

Distressed last fall — angered, actually — by the number of suicides in the military and concerned at the severity of brain trauma and other injuries, Carloss came up with his idea for a financial safety net to make sure these heroes receive care and assistance as they resume civilianian life.

He amassed a board here of like-minded individuals of high integrity from a cross section of backgrounds and they built a business plan to enhance what is already available.

While their effort is an ambitious one, it is also one lead by a very determined chairman — Carloss.

Been there, and back

A resident of Braes Heights, Carloss was a captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces —the Green Berets —and served two tours in Vietnam in the ‘60s. Severely wounded then, he is adamant and passionate that today’s service men and women have proper care and transistion assistance, particulary since they are experiencing and surviving “injuries never see before.”

Just as Carloss’ men did not leave him behind when he was near-mortally wounded, “I am not going to leave anyone behind now,” he said.

Properly structured, the foundation can be more “nimble” than the government’s veteran support services, Carloss said.

Formatted to be fully vetted and transparent, Operation American Heroes Foundation will be run by disabled veterans, he said.

Carloss outlined the fundraising challenge to come. The foundation’s goal is to encourage 50 million citizens to each give $21, a reference to a 21-gun salute.

Meanwhile, private business owners will be asked each year to donate a portion of their their profits from one day.

That day will be Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

Last year, Carloss did just that. He chose to donate 11 percent of sales to honor the hour, the day and the month of the armistice ending World War I in 1918.

He’d also like to get U.S. Congress to expand Veterans Day’s recognition to include all first responders by renaming it “Heroes Day.”

But that’s another idea for another time.

Regardless, he pointedly suggests, “Whenever you meet these people, look them in the eye and thank them for their service.”

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