Valerie Halaby is President and Founder of SOS Support Our Soldiers, Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit Veterans’ support organization. Her passion for helping U.S. Military Soldiers and their families was born of gratitude she felt for their devoted service after our nation’s most terrible tragedy on September 11th, 2001. It was a special invitation by good friend Elaine Rogers, President of the USO Metro, to visit Washington D.C. for a V.I.P. tour of our nation’s Pentagon immediately following the attack. Valerie had the privilege of sharing a private visit with then Army Chief of Staff, General Keane (Ret.); descended 20 stories to the War Room; attended the Laying of the Wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery; visited with patients at Walter Reed Medical Center, and made many subsequent visits to participate with the USO in the years to follow.
After visiting wounded troops at Walter Reed Medical Center and hearing the deeply moving stories of the proud men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country, she became astonished to learn of the many unfulfilled needs and gaps in services that existed, despite the government programs that are in place – things like soldiers having their hospital meals deducted from their military paychecks was something impossible for her to believe. It was with this new understanding of the difficult challenges our young men and women were facing, that she realized a greater calling and purpose had blessed her life.
Valerie’s life path was put into motion many years before her realization to get involved with helping Military Veterans, as there’s no coincidence that she majored in Professional Aeronautics and Aviation Business Administration at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and was selected to participate in a UTC training program at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company’s government engine business facility in West Palm Beach, Florida, working her way up to Sr. CAD Designer in the Engineering department before leaving after her 6th year anniversary. Valerie received a Special Recognition for Excellence Award as a member of the core engineering team who’s responsibility was to prepare the service repair work on the PW F14 fighter jet engines that led the sortie mission on Libya in March of 1986.
After electing to receive a volunteer severance package from Pratt & Whitney in 1992 as a result of defense budget cutbacks, Valerie went on to become self-employed in the Real Estate industry and gained a vast array of experience from sales to construction to mortgage origination & securitization, and eventually opened A.B. Merrill, Inc. in July 1998, a mortgage investment and trading company.
Valerie also serves on the Board of Directors for the West Palm Beach Friends of Fisher House nonprofit organization located on the VA Medical Center grounds, The Palm Beach County Veterans Committee, Stand Down House/Love, Hope, Faith, Charity, Inc. and continues to maintain her strong ties to the USO, Washington, D.C.