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Feb 20, 2020 10:16:50 AM

Operation Hero is Making an Impact in Virginia Beach


Nina Wilson is more than an amazing Operation Hero facilitator at Corporate Landing Elementary School in Virginia Beach. She's also mom to a recent Op Hero grad and a current participant. After her son graduated from the program in November, she knew she wanted She recalls thinking, “Where do I sign up? How do I get involved?”

Nina understands the costs of military life. Her husband has deployed five times over the course of their marriage. She said it doesn’t get easier, but you just keep going. You find friends and build community. Nina can often be found organizing neighborhood events, getting spouses together or simply showing up for the people in her life who need her.

“The hardest part is having my kids grow up and having Dad miss important events,” Nina says. That’s why a program like Operation Hero means so much to her. After starting Op Hero at the beginning of this year, Nina began to see her son blossom. “He started to show more enthusiasm. He was more engaged. Watching him speak during graduation was such a win for me. He finally opened up. I remember just thinking YES. We have arrived.” That was the moment she knew their time with Operation Hero couldn’t be over just yet. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of other military children in the same way they had made a difference in her son’s. In fact, Nina believes so strongly in the programs offered by the Armed Services YMCA of Hampton Roads that she's become an Operation Little Learners facilitator, too!

Operation Hero makes a difference in the lives of its participants... and their teachers and families. Students learn valuable skills and strategies throughout the weeks, but the overall experience is so much more. They find confidence. They find community. They are supported, and through that support they are able to make connections and see things in a new way.

Nina’s son reports that his favorite part of Op Hero was playing a game that involves guarding a basket with a pool noodle while other students try to throw balls into the basket. He recalls that he felt “like a soldier” guarding his fort. “It was hard because so many balls were coming at me at once. We learned that in real life, lots can come at us at once. When that happens, you have to stay calm and step back and you will figure it out.”

“As parents we spend so much time… years… trying to make the impact that Operation Hero makes in a few weeks. That is a program worth supporting,” Nina expressed. To learn more about Operation Hero, contact Laura Roberts at or read about our current program offerings here.


Posted February 20, 2020


The Armed Services YMCA is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves currently serving military members and their families. In 2019, we engaged more than 250,000 participants and delivered more than 1.3 million points of service to junior enlisted Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and family members at 200 service centers in 18 states. Whether providing respite child care for parents in need, summer camps for kids, or assisting with emergency needs, the Armed Services YMCA is a nonprofit with a mission: Strengthening Our Military Family®. Visit our website to see how you can join us in supporting military families.


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