By Kristina Houck
Nearly two years after losing their son, the family of U.S. Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn is still struggling financially.
Billy Vaughn missed work off and on for months after his son was killed in August 2011 when the helicopter he and 29 other American troops were in was shot down in Afghanistan. As the owner of a small trucking business, Vaughn now schedules fewer hauling trips so he can spend more time with his wife.
“I’m not making the money that I made before we lost our son, so we just don’t have the money that we used to have,” Vaughn said. “I just don’t hit it as hard as I used to because I don’t like to stay away from home as much as I used to. The loss of a child just changes your perspective.”
When his work truck recently broke down in Virginia, nearly 900 miles from his home in Florida, Vaughn turned to the Red Circle Foundation for help with the repair costs. The Red Circle Foundation provides financial support to special operations families in need.
“The amount it was going to take to fix the truck was actually more money than my wife and I had,” Vaughn said. “It was unexpected and I was unprepared. I don’t know what I would have done if it hadn’t been for the Red Circle Foundation.”
Since its launch in 2012, the Red Circle Foundation has donated more than $27,000 to assist special operations families like the Vaughn family.
“Our vision was of an organization that would provide peace of mind for the families when faced with the loss of a special operator,” said Executive Director Maryke Webb. “Our core objective is to provide relief during what is unquestionably the most difficult period in these families’ lives and ease the financial burdens on them so that they can celebrate the lives of their loved ones.”
Former U.S. Navy SEAL Brandon Webb founded the Red Circle Foundation to provide immediate financial relief to special operations families.
Not long after establishing the organization, Webb lost his best friend, Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, in the terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last year. The Red Circle Foundation helped cover the cost of Doherty’s memorial expenses.
“If we were over in Afghanistan and you were on a mission, there would be a quick reaction force waiting on alert back on the base so if something happened to you, that team would already be ready,” Webb said. “That’s my philosophy with the Red Circle Foundation. It really took shape from losing my best friend.”
Webb hopes to raise awareness about the needs of special operations families during the foundation’s inaugural gala fundraiser July 26 at the San Diego Air & Space Museum.
“I’m a SEAL, so San Diego is just a natural pick for the event,” said Webb, editor-in-chief of SOFREP.com, and author of “The Red Circle” and “Benghazi: The Definitive Report.” “I think the people of San Diego identify with the military and the sacrifice that people make.”
The event, which includes dinner, a silent auction and live entertainment, is one of the foundation’s main fundraising events for the year. Eighty-five percent of the proceeds will fund the nonprofit’s programs and services that help families like the Vaughn family.
“I never dreamed, expected or even thought about the loss of a child,” Vaughn said.
“Nobody ever thinks about that happening to them. When it does, there are all kinds of related expenses, plus the loss of work. Life just changes. It just changes forever.”
For more information about the Red Circle Foundation and to purchase tickets for the gala, visit redcirclefoundation.org.