By Gabby Wylie

More than 500,000 military veterans reside in Arizona and many are still learning to cope with the everyday struggles of their transition back into society. Whether it’s dealing with medical costs not covered by military health insurance or adjusting to civilian life, out-of-pocket expenses and life changes can feel overwhelming for any former serviceman or servicewoman.

Members of the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC), comprised of Marine Raiders, also face the challenge of being the newest to the United States Special Operations Command. Formed in 2006 by Donald Rumsfeld, Marine Raiders are the most elite of the country’s special operations teams. They are quiet professionals deployed around the world to execute complex operations in uncertain environments. You’d think coming home would give them peace of mind, but that’s not always the case. Being new also means fewer support systems exist.

This is why the 501c3 nonprofit Marine Raider Foundation stood up in 2012; not only to pay for the out-of-pocket expenses accrued by raiders and their families, but also with an emphasis on building personal, professional and family resiliency.

This past October, Marine Raider Foundation hosted its inaugural Valley of the Sun Gala in Phoenix. More than 150 people joined 16 Gold Star Family members (parents, siblings and spouses of military service members who died in combat) at the gala to raise $86,000. MARSOC Foundation’s four main programs are raider support, including transition assistance, funding for award ceremonies and receptions, and funding for events that focus on personal and professional resiliency; family resiliency support, including assisting raider families experiencing health and welfare challenges and with events that enhance personal and family resiliency; tragedy assistance and survivor support, including assistance for wounded, ill and injured raiders, Gold Star Families and funeral services and commemorations for MARSOC personnel; raider legacy and preservation support, including construction and upkeep of memorial structures and commemorative items, as well as funding for events that commemorate WWII and MARSOC Raiders. Since 2012, the Marine Raider Foundation has provided more than $4 million to World War II Marine Raiders, active-duty and former Marine Raiders and their families.

“The outpouring of support from the Phoenix community at the inaugural Valley of the Sun Gala sends a powerful message to the Marine Raider community that their service and sacrifice do not go unnoticed,” said Executive Director Andy Christian.

The Marine Raider Foundation has opportunities for volunteers throughout the year, including donating time or money to support veterans and their families Valleywide. Anyone interested in cultivating a deeper relationship with the organization may become an ambassador or host his or her own fundraising events. In doing so, the mission of the Marine Raider Foundation will be supported by engaging with local communities, increasing awareness and facilitating fundraising activities by seeking out contributions. As this year comes to a close, it is an important time to contribute to those that have made many sacrifices in service to this country.

For more information about volunteer opportunities, becoming an ambassador and upcoming events, visit