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Operation Home Front supports families

by Nick Stubbs
Thunderbolt staff writer

It was a simple question Bob Graviss asked himself one night while having dinner with his wife and some friends: "What can regular folks do?"

A strong supporter of President George Bush, Graviss was referring to supporting the troops in Iraq.

"I'd love to go over there and fly an F-15, but I was sure they didn't want me doing that," said Graviss. It was on the way home talking with his wife Gina that it came to him. Graviss suggested forming a "coalition on the home front," and Operation Home Front was born.

Started last month, the group has a mission of supporting the troops by supporting the families they left behind. From mowing grass and patching roof leaks, to cooking for Mr. Moms who are overloaded with the kids and work, the group is there.

Graviss said some 500 people have volunteered already and that doesn't include the hundreds more when you count the city of Oldsmar, numerous churches, the Tampa Chamber of Commerce and United Way.

"It's been an amazing amount of support," said Gina Graviss. "We got a great response." All volunteers are carefully screened with background checks. The idea is to send only approved people to the homes of family members, she said. One project now involves about $2,000 worth of repair work to a house. A lady whose air conditioner went out on her car was up and running in no time with donated parts from an auto dealer. Another who just underwent foot surgery got her house cleaned and the grass cut.

Bob Graviss said he and the volunteers stand ready to support military families as long as the need exists. "It will likely outlive me," he said.

While families in need can call Operation Home Front at 964-8230 or go to the Web site at www.operation-home front.com, the best route is to go through their spouse's first sergeant with a request. The sergeants at MacDill are familiar with the program and will get the wheels turning, Graviss said.




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