OSD Phoenix Chapter Leader, Tasha Stonehouse, Drives Purpose with Dedication to Veteran Community
Written by Ann Green, OSD Staff Writer
Many of Tasha Stonehouse’s high school friends and classmates served in the military. Her best friend of 15 years has served for 9 years. The Carrollton, Texas native was so proud that those close to her had chosen to serve their country, she was inspired to be a loyal and active supporter of the US military. An additional motivator for Stonehouse’s dedication was her brother’s loss of his best friend in Afghanistan in 2014. From the age of 18, Stonehouse has employed her boundless supply of energy and creativity to work and advocate for soldiers, veterans and military families. Stonehouse’s efforts led to her appointment as OSD Phoenix Chapter Leader, managing OSD Southwest.
In her day job Stonehouse is office manager at Alcor Energy in Mesa, Arizona, a family business started by her father. When Alcor was exploring organizations to donate to, Stonehouse got in touch with OSD CEO & Executive Director Glenn Banton. It was a perfect match. “We really hit it off,” she recalls.
“Arizona does not have that many bases, but vet support out here is amazing,” says Stonehouse. “OSD is very professional and also very flexible. Glenn and Scott (Morrison, OSD Director of Global Community Operations) give awesome responsibility to team leaders. I enjoy helping get the word out on OSD and all that they do.” Stonehouse is also pleased that OSD programs “focus on having fun where there is none. We find units to send games to so they can have a chance to enjoy themselves and that includes vets as well as active duty. We do a whole range of activities, from donating medical supplies, game nights, working with therapy horses and other really cool stuff.”
In December 2017 Stonehouse and OSD Phoenix held their annual Family Christmas event at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma with over 150 Marines and family members in attendance. OSD distributed hundreds of items from Steve Jackson Games, Bezier Games and other participating companies. “We were fortunate enough to attend the Christmas party and hand out a ton of games and other items to the amazing families down at the Marine base,” said Stonehouse at the time. “We had such a wonderful time. Santa was even there! From the second we arrived we felt so welcome. We can’t wait to continue to support their unit.” “I was overwhelmed by the support from OSD,” said MSgt Anthony D. Sharples, Family Readiness Officer for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 211. “I’m deeply thankful to OSD; they’ve always been here for our unit and our family members. The FRG (Army Family Readiness Group) looks forward to continuing our relationship with OSD.”
In one of her recent efforts to engage the veteran community Stonehouse helped organize a trip to a baseball game for veterans living in nursing homes in Phoenix. “They loved it,” says Stonehouse. “It’s such an American sport.” She has also participated in park cleanups and an OSD drive for Project C.U.R.E, the largest provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries around the world.
Stonehouse also works with Carry the Fallen, a nationwide ruck march event in which volunteers carry weight symbolizing lost soldiers as well as the burdens that many veterans carry after their service. The goal is to raise funds to help veterans cope with PTSD, working in conjunction with Active Heroes, which provides retreats, community centers and home repairs.
Through OSD Stonehouse became involved with Train Our Troops, an organization that works with veterans and their spouses to help them jumpstart their careers and work towards financial independence. The group focuses on veterans and spouses who are transitioning to civilian life, helping with all aspects of career and skill building as well as job hunting, with particular attention to skills in demand in today’s marketplace. “I’m probably one of the only civilians in the group,” says Stonehouse. “I admire the passion of their team leaders and their efforts in helping vets and their spouses as they transition into the workforce, through help with resumes, job fairs, and a great support system.”
“I’ve been around horses since I was three,” says Stonehouse, who hopes to share her love for everything equine by encouraging veterans to volunteer along with her at WildHorse Ranch Rescue in Gilbert, Arizona. The ranch aids and rehabilitates horses who are retired or have been neglected. The ranch takes in wild mustangs, domestic horses, retired US Forest Service and US Cavalry horses, as well as any horse in need of help. Volunteers learn about stable cleanup, feeding, grooming, how to be sensitive to animals’ needs in case of medical issues, as well as how to socialize the animals and and ease their transition to the sanctuary. WildHorse Ranch also has dogs, cats, donkeys, ducks, turkeys, “and even a peacock,“ adds Stonehouse.
Stonehouse is always looking for new ways to help veterans and their families. Recently she created a partnership with Massage Envy, a chain of franchised massage spas. To date she has received over 200 credits of unused massages to be distributed to veterans and their spouses. “We have rolled this out to some of our biggest regions — Seattle, San Diego, Phoenix, Austin and Las Vegas,” explains Stonehouse. “Veterans receive a voucher number, connect me with their preferred store, and I get the credit transferred over to that store with my contact here in Arizona. It’s been a great program so far, showing our appreciation for vets and treating them with an hour of pure relaxation.” Each voucher is good for two.
Stonehouse is hoping to organize an OSD fundraiser with the help of Over the Edge, a special events company that provides events for non-profit organizations. Participants will enjoy the thrill of repelling off a building. “I hope to pick up some vets to help us out,” says Stonehouse.
“OSD is an awesome organization with so much going on throughout the country,” says Stonehouse. “They are very active and growing bigger, and they make it easy to get involved while allowing you to take ownership of your programs.”