The Night Stalker Foundation is one of the most recent recipients of a BRCC Fund donation. Jay Fain, executive director of the BRCC Fund, presented Gayle Gonzalez, Night Stalker Foundation secretary and founding member, with a $5,000 check during the Clarksville outpost’s meet-and-greet event with BRCC drivers Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon.
Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is home to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment — known as the Night Stalkers because of their ability to strike undetected during nighttime operations. The regiment was created in 1980 after the failed Iran hostage rescue attempt in April of that year showed a clear need for a dedicated, specialized night-operating aviation force. The soldiers of the 160th are trained in assault and attack configurations of Little Bird helicopters and unmanned aerial systems, as well as in employing heavily modified Chinook and Black Hawk helicopters. The regiment was officially activated in 1990 and has two other locations where soldiers from the 160th train and deploy from. The Night Stalker Foundation serves past and present soldiers in all locations.
“The foundation is so appreciative of the support from the BRCC Fund,” Gonzalez said. “I just want to let folks know what they have done for us.”
In keeping with the Night Stalker motto, ”Night Stalkers Don’t Quit,” the foundation picks up where the Army leaves off. Founded in 2010, the Night Stalker Foundation (NSF) began with a focus on scholarships for spouses, active-duty soldiers, and dependents. During the last 12 years, the foundation has expanded, offering virtual workshops, family retreats, and children’s events.
“The 2022 Night Stalker Foundation scholarship program was able to serve 89 recipients,” Gonzalez said. “We gave out the largest amount of scholarships to date: over $219,000 worth of education assistance.”
Photo by Lauren Warner/BRCC Blog.
The NSF recently hosted a first-of-its-kind commemorative event for the 11th anniversary of Operation Neptune Spear in the form of a fundraiser at the One World Trade Center Observatory in New York City. In addition to a keynote speaker who was also the Task Force Commander during Operation Neptune Spear, Adm. William H. McRaven, the dinner program was held in the World Trade Center Observatory overlooking ground zero, the location and personnel tying in to a mission close to the 160th SOAR, which has been continuously deployed since 9/11.
“The NSF raised an unprecedented amount of funds from patrons and friends, expanding good will with the heroes and survivors of 9/11 as well as the incredible folks involved in Bin Laden's capture,” MyLinh Shattan, an NSF board member, said.
The funds from this event helped to build out the scholarships as well as the rest of the NSF’s programming for the SOAR families throughout the year.
Photo courtesy of the Night Stalker Foundation.
The most recent addition to the NSF’s services is a mental health and resiliency program: the SOAR Family Collaborative program. Since it’s inception in April 2022, NSF SOAR has hosted virtual workshops for military spouses focused on equipping them with coping skills and ways to better navigate being a special operations spouse; created opportunities to give back to the community via volunteering (such as with Habitat for Humanity); and hosted a canoe experience for children and their parent(s) that was paired with a workshop that promoted family resilience.
“The SOAR Family Collaborative program was created to help add an extra layer of support for Night Stalkers and their family members,” Charlie Trussell, NSF resiliency coordinator, said. “The program promotes resiliency, enhances performance, and focuses on three areas: educate, equip, and engage. We want to provide information to increase knowledge and understanding, equip the families with skills and strategies to enhance resiliency, and provide opportunities for family, children and spouses to build healthy connections within the special operation and local communities.”
The next SOAR event is scheduled for Aug. 6 in the form of a Children’s Fair, where local services that focus on children (ABA services, martial arts and gymnastics centers, mental health providers, etc.) will have booths to help inform families of what supports are in their community. Since a large majority of special operations families live away from post and rarely use on-post resources, the community resources are important. SOAR also has three upcoming three-day family weekend retreats for Night Stalker families to learn essentials to thriving in the special operations lifestyle while reconnecting between the high up-tempo times away the unit requires.
“Ultimately, special operations units require extra, so we try to provide extra,” explained Trussell. “If we can help families communicate more effectively, connect with one another more intentionally, and ultimately provide the best support to help them thrive in the Night Stalker lifestyle, they can move forward a little more prepared, a little more easy, a little more confident in their sacrifices.”
Photo courtesy of the Night Stalker Foundation.
To learn more about the Night Stalker Foundation and how to get involved, head to its website here.