BALTIMORE First Lieutenant Travis Manion (USMC) was a hero in life. Before leaving for what would be his final deployment, he said, "If Not Me, Then Who..." And 1st Lt. Travis Manion is a hero in death. In 2007, he was killed in Iraq while saving his wounded teammates. Manion’s legacy lives on through the Travis Manion Foundation (TMF).
Guided by the words he spoke before his last deployment, TMF provides an opportunity for veterans to continue their service, develop strong relationships with their communities, and thrive in their post-military lives through its “Character Does Matter Program.”
The program provides opportunities for veterans and families of fallen heroes to teach character and leadership lessons to young adults through daylong and multi-day team-building exercises, discussions, and experiential learning challenges.
Amy Looney, wife of Lt. (SEAL) Brendan Looney is Vice President of TMF. Her husband Lt. (SEAL) Brendan Looney was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
“Overall, our goal is to ensure internally and externally, that the foundation is out there engaged, and that our messages are resonating in communities,” said Looney. “I have been with TMF just over six years, and it has been great for me in the healing process. Serving with TMF allows me to do something impactful after losing my loved one. It’s a new sense of purpose and improved overall well- being.”
She added, “TMF helps pay it forward. We want to inspire the next generation and show our military communities that they can be assets in their communities. TMF gives them the ability to continue serving even after they take off their uniform and inspire young adults in those areas. As a result, communities prosper and the character of our nation’s heroes lives on in the next generation.”
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation has partnered with TMF in support of the organization’s expansion of the Mid-Atlantic Region into Baltimore through the Weinberg Foundation’s Library Project. The two-year, $150,000 grant will allow TMF to bring its program to three Library Project schools by the fall of 2018.
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, one of the largest private charitable foundations in the United States, provides approximately $100 million in annual grants to nonprofits that provide direct services to low-income and vulnerable individuals and families, primarily in the United States and Israel.
“The Weinberg Foundation grant allows us to work with Windsor Hill Elementary, Samuel Coleridge-Taylor Elementary, and Commodore John Rogers Elementary schools to facilitate a character development program,” said Looney. “A small group of veterans will mentor the children. Each week, they will focus on resilience, and other topics to help shape their character.”
She added, “This will be reinforced through exercise which lays out making smart decisions when the going gets tough in the coming years. This will help shape their character, and build stronger leaders across Baltimore.”
TMF is also carrying out its mission through initiatives such as “Operation Legacy”. From April 20, 2018 through April 29, 2018, TMF hosted more than 50 “Operation Legacy” service projects across the country, with one occurring in Annapolis.
According to TMF, Operation Legacy is the fastest growing movement to unite communities across the nation to create positive change, while honoring the legacies of fallen heroes.
For the Annapolis event, TMF, Downtown Hope Ministries and Navy Cru hosted “Play Day Newtowne.” Volunteers spend the afternoon playing and mentoring with the children of the Forest Drive community of Annapolis.
“TMF is a wonderful way to give thanks and also get out there and build other relationships with those who are a part or not a part of the military community,” said Looney. “TMF allows me to remember my husband’s name and what he stood for. It also provides an opportunity to work with young adults, help craft their characters, and be a part of eldership. It is a great way to put my energy and time into something positive and ensure his name is never forgotten.”
The story of 1st Lt. Travis Manion and his Naval Academy brother Lt. (SEAL) Brendan Looney have been publicized in the book “Brothers Forever.” For more information about TMF visit www.travismanion.org.