Jack Daniel’s Operation Ride Home will bring over 1,700 service members home for the holidays this year

Jack Daniel’s raises money for Operation Ride Home by auctioning off the top barrel of the Barrel Trees located in Lynchburg and 10 other U.S. cities. to the highest bidder. Bidding will begin on December 1 online. (PHOTO CREDIT: Jack Daniel’s Distillery)

LOCAL NEWS — There’s nothing worse than being homesick around the holidays and for many of our servicemen and servicewomen across the world, the cost of that ticket home can too often be out of reach. That’s why Jack Daniel’s Distillery and the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) launched a partnership 11 years ago to form, Operation Ride Home (ORH).

On Veterans Day, the program announced that more than 1,700 junior-enlisted service members and families will be headed home for the holidays to see loved ones this year through their ORH program. This year marks a significant milestone in the program’s history with the largest number of service members and families traveling home. The program provides financial assistance to active-duty, junior-enlisted military and their families to travel from their base of duty to loved ones’ homes across the country. Including this year’s travelers, more than 10,000 people have made it home through ORH. Service men and women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard have been assisted with travel to all 50 states.

“These heroes are on the front lines, protecting us and protecting our liberties, and we are absolutely thrilled they’ll get to reunite with their loved ones this year,” said Chris Fletcher, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller. “Providing some financial assistance to see that they make it home is the least we can do, and I can only imagine the hugs, the tears, the joy and the laughter when these reunions take place.”

As it has done throughout the program, Jack Daniel’s kicked off this year’s campaign with a $100,000 donation and is asking friends to visit operationridehome.com and contribute to help even more service members make it home. More than $2 million in overall donations have provided travel funding over the past 11 years.

The ASYMCA works with the various military commands in specific areas co-located with ASYMCA branches to identify and prioritize junior-enlisted service members and families most in financial need. Plane tickets and pre-paid debit cards are given to assist those traveling.

“Due to the pandemic and military travel ban, we weren’t able to activate Operation Ride Home last year, but we made it our goal to send even more heroes home for the holidays when it was safe to do so. That day is here, and we are on track to accomplish our goal,” said Armed Services YMCA President and CEO Bill French, VADM, USN (Ret). “I’ve been there, and I know the stress of military life on both the service member and the family, and it’s only been made worse by the pandemic. No one deserves to be home more than they do, and we hope our friends will join us as we work to get even more families reunited this holiday season.”

Operation Ride Home is open to active-duty E-5 and below, both single and married, who might not otherwise financially be able to travel home. The option to drive or fly is an individual decision. For additional information on eligibility and to view participating installations that qualify for travel assistance, click here.

Each year, Jack Daniel’s raises money for Operation Ride Home by auctioning the top barrels from the annual Barrel Tree in Lynchburg and other locations like Nashville, Washington DC, and Las Vegas to the highest bidder. Bidding will begin on Wednesday, December 1 and end on Tuesday, December 21. To bid or see the locations, click here. • 

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}