Those serving our country in the armed forces make incredible sacrifices every day, and all of us at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois are so thankful for all they do. Oftentimes when exiting the military, veterans find themselves searching for a worthwhile cause to devote themselves and their time to once they return to civilian life. Becoming a full-time Foster Parent at SOS Illinois is the perfect choice for veterans as it provides them with the ability to continue to make a difference for the future of our country, as well as children in foster care.
Listed below are some of the many reasons veterans make excellent Foster Parents, as well as one Foster Parent’s story of going from veteran to Chicago Village Foster Parent.
Veterans are Structure-Oriented
Children need stability and structure in their lives – especially those who have experienced trauma and are in need of healing and renewed hope. Veterans as Foster Parents serve as wonderful role models to children in foster care. Veterans are able to teach youth how to create and manage a schedule, as well as how to properly define and handle priorities. Veterans are also great at providing healthy discipline and correction when a child needs to be reminded of proper rules and manners. The structure-oriented mindset of veterans teaches children how to form and maintain respect-centered relationships with their families, peers, elders, and communities.
Veterans are Service-Hearted
Given that they willingly dedicate and sacrifice their lives to provide better possibilities and freedom for those back home while in service, it’s easy to see how veterans are service-hearted. This trait serves them well as caregivers for children in foster care because it’s another way they can offer dedicated, loving service in order to create a world that is better for others. Their desire to serve others is inspirational to the youth in our care and is a wonderful example of how we are building youth to become caring, self-reliant adults.
Veterans are Community-Minded
Veterans understand the importance of the community. For those serving, leaning on your fellow servicemen and women is vital for support, survival, and companionship. As a result, veterans know that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Professional Foster Parents at SOS Illinois understand the same to be true: that the success of our mission is a direct result of our Village Model of Care, which provides comprehensive services in a community-focused setting. By keeping the importance of relationships at the center of parenting, veteran Foster Parents help infuse their homes with these same principles, inspiring the youth in our care to become loving, self-reliant adults.
From a Veteran to the Village: One Fosters Parent’s Decision to Continue Serving Others
Greg Harris, known at our Chicago Village for both his culinary craft and his care of children, came to SOS Illinois with a history of serving others.
“After high school, I served in the United States Navy for eight years as a Hospital Corpsman,” Greg shared with SOS Illinois. “I completed Fleet Marine Force training at Camp LeJeune, after which I served at the Naval Hospital Okinawa, Japan at Evans Clinic as the Lead Petty Officer in charge of our treatment and procedure centers. Additionally, I served in San Diego at the Naval Medical Center Balboa as the Surgical Supply Officer responsible for the requests of 5 surgical clinics.”
Greg’s service didn’t stop there. Instead, he brought his heart for service to Illinois, where he first began serving the needs of children in the community.
“After my military service, I attended Southern Illinois University Carbondale for my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. I taught 8th grade at James Hart Junior High and also served as the boys basketball coach and mentor, as well as assistant coach to the chess team.”
For Greg, joining our Chicago Village as a professional Foster Parent for SOS Illinois was the “natural next step” in his life of service. As the current caregiver for a home filled with siblings ages three to sixteen, Greg considers this “mission” to be his greatest yet.
“My grandmother fostered many children when I was growing up and that experience stayed with me now as an adult,” Greg offered. “I wanted to be an advocate, provider, and protector for those who need it most: children coming into care. Now that I am a foster Dad, I would not have my life be any different! This impactful, rewarding work is the most important thing I have done with my life.”
Foster Parents like Greg are at the heart of our Model of Care, and it is the dedication of individuals like him that allow us to continuously reach major milestones, celebrate successes, and build the future of foster care.
Become a Full-Time Foster Parent for Children in Foster Care
If you are a veteran of the armed forces, we invite you to become a Foster Parent at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois by filling out this application.
Know someone retiring from an active-duty military position that would benefit from a career helping youth in foster care? Invite them to consider this transformative opportunity. They can find more information here.