Major Ed Pulido, U.S. Army (Ret.) is the Sr. VP of the Folds of Honor, a non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships for the spouses and children fallen or wounded veterans.
THE PULIDO STORY
On August 17, 2004, I hit an Improvised Explosive Device or roadside bomb while serving with the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team under General David Patraeus. Because of the extensive injuries to my left knee, doctors had to amputate my left leg on October 1, 2004. Not long after that, I was awarded by the President of the United States and General David Petraeus with the Bronze Star with Valor, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal and Joint Service Commendation and Achievement Medals. It took experiencing my own bouts of depression and PTSD before I came to understand that soldiers cannot walk alone in this journey. That’s why I’ve become a firm advocate for veterans and their families. Folds of Honor, where I serve as the Sr. Vice President, is one piece of that puzzle.
You wake up in the morning — what’s the driving passion?
Our driving passion at the Folds of Honor is to make sure that our military families are not left behind on the field of battle and on the home front, so help us God. It is what we call the “mission first, people always” approach of making sure that as a nation, we must never forget those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.
What was the genesis for Folds of Honor?
When Major Dan Rooney, an F-16 Fighter Pilot in the Oklahoma Air National Guard, was returning home from his second tour of duty in Iraq, he became painfully aware of the realities that families face when a soldier is lost or wounded on the battle field. As his flight was landing, the pilot announced that they were carrying the remains of Corporal Brock Bucklin on board and asked passengers to respectfully remain seated while his casket de-boarded. Major Rooney watched Corporal Bucklin’s twin brother, his young son, and other family members, walk somberly alongside the flag-covered casket. As Major Dan looked out the window of the plane to the family whose lives would never be the same, he was inspired to find a way to help. In 2007, Folds of Honor was created with one mission – to close the gap for these families and provide educational support to spouses and children of America’s fallen and wounded soldiers. Since then, Folds of Honor has provided nearly 16,000 scholarships to military families.
What was the biggest challenge when getting started and how did you overcome it?
One of the biggest challenges we faced as an organization happened just a few years ago. In 2015, for the first time ever, we received more scholarship applications than we were able to fund. As awareness for Folds of Honor skyrocketed, so did our number of applicants in need of scholarships. While it was exciting to see the awareness of Folds of Honor growing so quickly, it was also devastating to see what a great challenge we had to raise more money. We’re still working on overcoming that, but our loyal partners, from the golf community to Rite Aid, QuikTrip and NASCAR, have helped us move forward.
Was there a specific “tipping point” that really accelerated the efforts of the program?
Patriot Golf Day was developed in 2007 and quickly became the largest grassroots fundraising event for Folds of Honor. The golf community has played a huge role in helping the foundation with their local events and fundraising efforts across the country. 2017 was a record fundraising year for Patriot Golf Day, raising more than $7 million for Folds of Honor, and it helped raise more than $47 million since 2007.
What kind of support have you received from the golf community specifically?
Patriot Golf Day is Folds of Honor’s number one source of revenue. Open to golfers across the country in 41 PGA sections and all 50 states, Patriot Golf Day is a year-round initiative. Golf tournaments, golf marathons, collecting donations at the pro shop are just some of the ways that the golf community helps raise money through the Patriot Golf Day Campaign all year long.
How are those selected for scholarships determined?
Applicants are first vetted to ensure they meet the requirements, including being a spouse or child of a fallen or injured service member. Scholarships are then awarded up to $5,000 based on the “unmet need” that Folds of Honor calculates on the application.
What lies ahead for the program?
While we’ve made exciting headway since our founding, we expect to continue growing exponentially and funding even more scholarships annually moving forward. A big part of this is thanks to the golf community and the passion that they’ve shown us.
Folds of Honor is a non-profit organization that provides educational scholarships to children and spouses of disabled or fallen service members.
Founded in 2007, the organization has provided more than 16,000 scholarships and raised more than $100 million.