When Ahwatukee resident Anthony Ameen returned from serving overseas in 2008, challenges were still ahead for the Marine Corp veteran. Despite serving with the 2nd Battalion/7th Marines — 1st Marine Division, with whom he saw action nearly every day before an improvised explosive device cost him his most of his left leg, he nonetheless faced immense difficulty getting the medical treatment and financial compensation that should have been afforded to him by his service.
Denied Social Security for two years all while battling Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and undergoing some 30 surgeries, he was fortunate to have the Ahwatukee community and friends rally behind him to offer support. Through a local church, his friends began a non-profit called “Wings for Anthony” with the hope of raising money for Ameen and his family. When he saw the support he was getting he understood all too many service members faced similar troubles without such help — and so he set out to offer a hand.
“I did not want other wounded warriors and their families to struggle, and I wanted to do what I could to make their lives easier,” said Ameen.
Eventually receiving his Social Security payment, he found himself in a position where he could change that non-profit that was started to help him into an outlet through which he could offer help to others. Dubbed “Wings for Warriors,” the non-profit focus would be to raise awareness about the plight of veterans while providing counseling to wounded warriors and financial assistance for them and their families.
Now, the organization is celebrating its five-year anniversary this month, and “Wings for Warriors” has grown from something small to a non-profit that is nationally recognized and growing in exponential fashion to meet the demands of wounded warriors around the country.
In November 2014, Wings for Warriors was awarded an ad grant by Google that would provide free visibility for the organization, far beyond what it could have achieved through its own means.
“Most non-profits do not have the financial backing to afford these kinds of advertisements, so Google has a program for non-profits like Wings for Warriors to make and receive up to $10,000 per month for 12 months straight, depending on how much traffic you are getting through the ad,” said Ameen. “Wings for Warriors broke records for them this last year and we were able to earn in six months what it takes other non-profits 12 months to raise.”
With this new partnership, Wings for Warriors was effectively able to double the size of its organization over the course of 2015, meaning, as Ameen put it, “twice the donations, twice the volunteer base, and twice as many veterans and families we were able to help.”
It did not stop there, however, as just this month the organization secured the next level of ad grant from Google, allowing the non-profit to earn between $30-40,000. That means that although 2015 was by far the largest year for Wings for Warriors, Ameen expects that this year’s growth can be more than tripled in 2016. In fact, the organization has been so successful with Google’s grant program that Wings for Warriors has been selected to be the representative at Google’s economic forum next May where a business or non-proft from each state that has found success with Google will be featured on a national platform.
“Our relationship with Google is growing stronger every day, and that just means so much for the future of our organization and our ability to help wounded warriors and their families on a national scale,” Ameen said. “We have more than 600 volunteers from around the country that I can call on directly, and that number is growing every week.”
The organization’s success in 2015 does not end there, as they were able to partner with Neutron Media and the Wealth Consulting Group from Phoenix to advertise Wings for Warriors on an electronic billboard in Time Square in New York City. The advertisement was up for 75 straight days, including during Veterans Day and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, standing as a sort of tangible validation of the organization’s immense success over the last year.
“I never thought Wings for Warriors would be as successful as it is,” said Ameen. “I don’t want to say that we are big yet, it is still just me and a board of directors, but I would say we are a relatively small non-profit trying to make a big difference.”
As for the future of the organization, Ameen hopes that in 2016 he can open a physical office where he can hire interns and, if successful enough, begin hiring veterans and their family members to work for the organization.
“I want to be able to grow the company to its capacity so we can help more wounded warriors and their families, because there are so many out there that are in need of help and who are faced with so many challenges in regards to their health care and financial benefits — someone has to help.”
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