OPERATION RIDE HOME

Bringing Families Together

Jack Daniels and the Armed Services YMCA Operation Ride Home program helps bring military families together for the holidays. Operation Ride Home sponsors travel for eligible service members and their dependents to travel from their duty station back home to spend time with their families. Reconnecting military families during this special time of year is one small way Operation Ride Home is strengthening military families.

 

PROGRAM DETAILS:

  • Travel assistance of up to $400/family member
  • Participants are determined and prioritized based on financial need
  • Travel destination must be at least 350 miles from the service member’s installation
  • Participants must complete an application, submit a leave verification form and write a thank-you note to the community partners that make this vital program possible.
  • Registrations will be accepted through September 23.

 

PROGRAM ELIGIBILITY:

  • Applicants must be Active Duty E5 or below permanently stationed in Alaska. Dependents may not complete the application unless their service member is currently deployed.
  • Family members must travel with their service member, unless he/she is deployed at the time of travel
  • Command approved with financial need

 

ACCESSING THIS PROGRAM:

  • The application period for the 2021 Operation Ride Home closed September 23. 

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply for Jack Daniel’s Operation Ride Home?

Operation Ride Home is open to active duty E-5and below, both single and married service members traveling with their spouses and/or dependents who may not have the financial means to travel home for the holidays. The service member, their spouse or a dependent may apply.

Does the service member have to be one of the travelers?

Generally, the service member travels with their family. However, there may be instances where the service member may not be able to travel, but the family is selected for the program.

What if the service member is deployed? As the spouse or a dependent eligible to apply?

Yes, if the service member is deployed, the spouse and/or dependent of an active duty E-4 and below service member is eligible to participate in Operation Ride Home.

Are there requirements for travel distances?

For those driving, the travel destination must be at least 350 miles (one way) from their installation. The choice to fly or drive is an individual decision made by the service member.

How are participants selected?

Participants will be prioritized and selected based on need, in coordination with their commands.

By filling out an application am I guaranteed free travel home for the holidays?

No. Based on the total number of applicants, and the requests for flights versus driving travel requests, applications will be prioritized based on need as determined by their respective installation commands.

How does the process work?

Service members, or their dependent, will apply via an application found through your local ASYMCA branch. Installation points of contact review and turnover completed, prioritized, and approved service member applications to their respective Armed Services YMCA branch contact. The branch will then reach out to selected service members to coordinate travel. If selected by your command, additional information will be sent via web and email for you to complete.

What if my travel costs are more than the stipend amount?

If travel costs exceed the stipend amount, the traveler(s) pay the difference. Your billing information will be collected upfront to pay for these costsin the case of air travel. In the nine-year history of this program, many Operation Ride Home participants have paid the difference toward their flight(s). Operation Ride Home is structured to help facilitate travel and offset costs as much as possible, but not necessarily to provide “free” travel. In order to ensure optimal benefit of the donated funds, the program follows guidelines established by the ASYMCA and Jack Daniel’s.

What are the travel booking deadlines?

Flights will be booked in coordination with your parent ASYMCA Branch; pre-paid debit cards for those driving will be distributed by your parent ASYMCA Branch.

Are international flights booked?

Yes, but each traveler will still receive no more than the$400 flight assistance for each service and family member traveling. Any remaining balance must be paid by the traveler.

If I am driving, I only receive $100 in travel assistance?

$100 is provided foreach traveler in the family. This amount is meant to help with gas, food, or hotel accommodations and is provided in the form of pre-paid debit or gift cards.

If I’m flying and my ticket costs less than $400, will I receive the difference in cash?

No, if your ticket(s) is less than the allotted $400 per person flying, we willnot provide the difference in cash. Less expensive fares allow more troops and family members to participate in the program. The ASYMCA or authorized travel agents will book travel and will look for the most cost-effective flights. Requests for specific airlines/routes will not be accommodated; the priority is to meet the travel dates.

Do you provide flights for family members to visit service members?

No, the intent of Operation Ride Home is to send service members and their family home for the holidays. Travel is not provided for family members to visit the service member.

I received travel assistance through Operation Ride Home in a previous year, am I eligible again this year?

Previous participation does not preclude participating this year, but applications will be prioritized according to need. Please applyand wait to hear if you have been selected.

Do you provide cash assistance as part of this program?

Cash is not distributed as part of this program. The ASYMCA books all flights directly to ensure the proper use of donated funds. For those driving, a pre-paid debitcard will be provided; funds should be use for gas, food and accommodations.

If I am selected to participate, what is required of me?

If selected, and before travel is arranged, you must sign a waiver of liability. After travel has been arranged, we kindly ask that the service member/family write a thank you note so the ASYMCA and Jack Daniels can share the importance of this program with donors. We also ask program participants to share photos and brief video as a testimonial about their experience to demonstrate Operation Ride Home’s value to the military community. On social media, please use #OperationRideHome.

Where do the funds come from that support this program?

Operation Ride Home is funded by the generous contributions of Jack Daniel’s, Jack Daniel’s Distributors, and the general public along with support from the Armed Services YMCA.

How can I help a service member?

You can make monetary donations or donate airline miles to the program and help more families at www.jdoperationridehome.com.