The Plan Forward

The Rick Herrema Foundation

The Rick Herrema Foundation addresses a critical gap in military deployment and reintegration services for active duty soldiers and their loved ones. Our foundation was founded in 2014 by Special Operations Force soldiers to honor the late Rick Herrema, a soldier who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Our mission is to support relationships and build community for the military family – as broadly defined – through fun, quality activities.

We currently host approximately 500 visits from soldiers, friends, and family members each month at Ft. Bragg, the largest US military installation. These soldiers face brutal warfare and return to a difficult social reintegration process. A near constant alert status often confines their travel to areas near Ft. Bragg.

We provide evidenced-based, fun group activities that promote familial cohesion, reduce stress, improve quality of life, and offer tailored social support. Examples include team relays, family obstacle courses, educational gardening groups, horse and other animal interactive fun, and other activities soldiers say help them reintegrate and reduce stress. We work at a 50-acre greenspace 5.5 miles from Ft. Bragg, thus within the travel perimeter allowed.

According to Max Dolan, Dept. of Defense Region 9 PEER Support Coordinator, “No one is doing what RHF is doing.” Several top U.S. Army leaders use our work and support it to address relationship concerns related to deployment and reintegration. With the success and broad support we have enjoyed at Ft. Bragg, we believe that there is tremendous potential for replication at different bases across the nation.

Vision: Strong Family. Strong Military. Strong Nation.

Mission: The Rick Herrema Foundation (RHF) strengthens relationships and builds community for The Military Family through fun, quality activities. 

Our operational objectives include:

2018:

    1. Complete Phase 1 site engineering and build select infrastructure. Phase 1 infrastructure sets the conditions for family fun and for a therapeutic equine facility that will allow horses to be safely stabled or housed at RHF for fun, quality activities that reduce family stress. Until we complete construction and remove construction debris, horses are only able to come to the property episodically and then they must be confined to specific areas of the property.
    2. Plan, execute and collect data on one full year of operations. This includes extending our outreach efforts as well as initiating an inventory of natural resources on the 50-acre Rick’s Place park.
    3. Conduct operations at a high professional standard as measured by an external audit, expert assessment and stakeholder surveys.
    4. Continue to build our organizational capacity with excellence.
    5. Organize park-type programs and construction projects for park-type items.

2019: 

  1. Operate and scale select operations. This includes completing the inventory of natural resources at Rick’s Place park.
  2. Once our barn, field and parking lot construction zones are cleared of debris and safe for horses,  we will initiate a program to allow kids and adults to interact with horses in a way that is both fun and reduces kid and adult stress. Partnerships for such a program have been in the works since the original horse farm was purchased in2014, but the property has only accommodated limited visits from horses due to its lack of infrastructure to support caring for horses (e.g. watering challenges, construction zone debris, etc.).
  3. Build our capacity to raise funds;  explore new entrepreneurial revenue generation opportunities.
  4. Complete Phase 2 site engineering and build select infrastructure for the purpose and needs of the RHF park.
  5. Explore expansion plans with high level franchising experts.
  6. Continue to build our organizational capacity with excellence.