Operation Ancestor Search Looks Ahead to Long-Term Sustainability

by Rick Kincaid, OAS Program Director

The Operation Ancestor Search program is embarking on a new chapter in its history as we approach the expiration of our three-year program grant from Ancestry.com this coming August 31.  We now are actively seeking additional sources of funding to replace the annual grant from Ancestry.  We also are developing a strategic plan to help guide us in reaching financial sustainability for future growth.

We appreciate the support that Ancestry.com has given to the OAS program since its inception, both financially with its cash grant of $180,000 over the past three years and in-kind by providing the online Ancestry.com accounts for the program participants.  Ancestry will continue to provide free access to its online accounts for the participants, which guarantees future access to its family of databases (including Fold3.com and Newspapers.com), Family Tree Maker software and related support materials.

Operation Ancestor Search seeks replacement funding for the program grant as it moves toward long-term financial self-sufficiency.  The OAS leadership is in the process of developing a strategic plan outlining the program’s operations, finances, marketing, public relations, and community outreach.  This strategic plan builds on the program’s growth, addresses the challenges facing the program in the future, and strategically lays out the direction and plan of action for others to join with the SAR and ensure the OAS program’s sustainability.

The Ancestry.com grant has enabled the SAR to hire a full-time OAS Program Director at its national headquarters in Louisville and has super-charged the expansion of the program.  Since OAS Program Director Rick Kincaid started in April, 2013, the number of program facilities has grown from four to the 21 current locations, and more on the drawing board or in various stages of development.

The changing nature of U.S. military combat action fortunately has resulted in a decline in the number of injured military service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  As a result, the population centers of wounded warriors is changing as the injured service members and their families transition from major military medical centers to dispersed military, veteran and civilian medical facilities.  When wounded warriors return to service, they are reassigned to Warrior Transition Brigade units or they separate or retire from the military.  While their location and status change, there remains a long (and often permanent) process of medical treatment and recovery.

OAS will address this challenge by gradually shifting its primary target locations from the major treatment facilities (although these will remain a big part of the program) to other medical facilities that continue to treat veterans and wounded warriors.  In addition, OAS will look to engage other facilities that support injured or ill service members, e.g., VA medical facilities, Fisher Houses, veteran retirement homes, etc.  OAS leaders at all levels also will work to maintain and develop relationships with other organizations that may provide additional resources, volunteers and support for the program.

OAS must ensure that it remains a priority program within the SAR.  Continued support within the national, state and local leadership is necessary for continued success.  Throughout the SAR, OAS is considered one of the most worthwhile and exciting programs that the organization offers to support veterans and advance our mission of patriotism.  A continued presence at national, regional, state and local meetings and conferences will ensure that OAS remains a prominent part of the NSSAR’s program offerings.

*****

For additional information about Operation Ancestor Search, contact Program Director Rick Kincaid at rkincaid@sar.org or (502) 588-6147.