Special Operations Warrior Foundation

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Special Operations Warrior Foundation
Logo specialops.jpg
Founded 1980
Mission To serve the military’s special operations forces and their families[1]
Website http://www.specialops.org/

The Special Operations Warrior Foundation (SOWF) is an American tax-exempt 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1980 to provide college scholarships and educational counseling to the surviving children of Special Operations personnel killed in the line of duty. These services are provided throughout the United States, or overseas, depending upon where the surviving children reside.


The Special Operations Warrior Foundation is a top-rated,[2] non-profit organization located in Tampa, Florida. The SOWF supports America's special operations forces by providing full college educations to the surviving children of fallen special operations personnel as well as immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel.

Today, the foundation has 1,000 children in its program, with 140 students enrolled full-time in colleges and universities across the country.[3]


The mission of the foundation is to provide a college education to every child who has lost a parent while serving in the Special Operations Command or one of its components. The foundation provides funding for tuition, books, fees, room and board, laptop computer and printer. Eligible students are not restricted to traditional four year colleges: they may attend junior colleges or vocational schools as well. The foundation also employs a school psychologist to help families through the grieving processes and the challenges that come with losing a parent.[4]

The foundation also provides immediate financial assistance to severely wounded special operations personnel to allow their loved ones to travel and be bedside when they are needed most.


In 2013, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation was awarded its eighth consecutive four-star rating from the nation's leading charity watchdog, Charity Navigator.[2] This esteemed rating places the SOWF in the top one percent of charities rated for its financial efficiency.


The SOWF was founded in 1980 following the failed attempt to rescue American hostages being held in Iran. The doomed mission was plagued with problems from the start, but it ended in disaster when a helicopter and C-130 gunship collided in the desert of Iran, at a location now referred to as "Desert One," killing eight military personnel and severely incapacitating another. The fallen warriors left behind 17 children. The survivors took it on themselves to provide college educations for the children of their fallen comrades.

The foundation began as the Col. Arthur D. "Bull" Simons Scholarship Fund.[5] It was named in honor of the Army Green Beret, Bull Simons, who repeatedly risked his life on rescue missions.

Following creation of the United States Special Operations Command, and as casualties mounted from actions such as Operations Urgent Fury (Grenada), Just Cause (Panama), Desert Storm (Kuwait and Iraq), and Restore Hope (Somalia), the Bull Simons Fund gradually expanded its outreach program to encompass all Special Operations Forces. Thus, in 1995 the Family Liaison Action Group (established to support the families of the 53 Iranian hostages) and the Spectre (Air Force gunship) Association Scholarship Fund merged to form the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.[5] In 1998 the foundation extended the scholarship and financial aid counseling to also include training fatalities since the inception of the foundation in 1980. This action immediately added 205 children who were now eligible for college funding.

Financial requirements[edit]

There are more than 1,000 children of fallen special operations troops with whom the foundation is charged with helping in their education requirements. With nearly 125 children eligible each year for college in the upcoming years, the foundation's estimated financial need through 2018 is $60 million.

In 2012, the foundation provided $4.8 million in scholarship grants, financial aid, and counseling to families of fallen special operations personnel.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Special Operations Warrior Foundation Fact Sheet" (PDF). Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Special Operations Warrior Foundation". Charity Navigator. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  3. ^ "Welcome". Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "About our Programs". Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 
  5. ^ a b "History of the Special Operations Warrior Foundation". Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Retrieved 15 November 2011. 

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