“Service before self” has guided John I. Pray Jr. (’88, WW) his entire life. He saw this value personified through his father, a decorated career Army infantry officer who spent more than three years as a prisoner of war in World War II. Pray put this value into practice during his own 27-year career in the U.S. Air Force.
Now the retired brigadier general has found a new avenue for service as president and CEO of Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit that provides financial, housing and support services to military and veteran families.
Inspired by Military Service
Pray brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the organization, which raised more than $45.6 million and helped more than 150,000 military family members in 2016. In the Air Force, Pray completed command assignments at the squadron, group and wing levels. He continued serving as the executive secretary of the National Security Council, where he managed foreign policy development in support of the President and other senior White House officials. More recently, Pray spent nearly six years at the United Service Organizations (USO) leading a broad range of initiatives in support of service members and their families.
“I think it’s important for all Americans to realize, our troops work tirelessly to protect the freedoms that we, as Americans, enjoy daily,” Pray says.
Appreciating the Sacrifice
Educating the public about the amazing work military families do to sustain their loved ones is one of Pray’s goals as head of Operation Homefront. “Operation Homefront is focused on building strong, stable and secure military families so they can thrive, not simply struggle to get by, in the communities – our communities – they have worked so hard to protect,” Pray says.
Assisting the organization in these efforts are scores of corporate partners and tens of thousands of individual donors. Operation Homefront also provides opportunities for Americans to support military families through volunteer service.
Pray says he’s committed to engaging the public to assist in the organization’s efforts to deliver “real goodness” to military families. He believes in relevant programs that truly impact lives. “We don’t want to pay lip service,” he says.
Give for Maximum Impact
With about 40,000 nonprofits in the military philanthropy space, Pray says he realizes that people have many choices. He suggests potential donors and volunteers consider those organizations that focus not simply on dollars spent, but on outcomes. “Making a meaningful difference is the only real measure of success,” he says.
“Our military members and their families face many difficult challenges while they are in the service and as they transition back to their civilian communities,” Pray says. “All involved with Operation Homefront are driven by a strong desire to care for our military families in their time of need because they have done so much for all of us in our nation’s time of need.”