“Better to fight for something than live for nothing.” – General George S. Patton
I’ve been at war with myself for the past year, fighting the call to pursue a vision that is far greater than I am capable to do on my own. My vision requires building a team who is committed to an incredible mission that will make an impact today as well as for future generations. To be honest, the idea of what I am trying to do scares the hell out of me.
It’s way easier to just worry about your own survival and to look after yourself than it is to lead a team into the unknown. Accepting the responsibility for the livelihood of other people is a tremendous challenge. Mistakes and bad decisions can affect more than the individual leading the charge. And if you fail, the failure is magnetized by the amount of people who follow you. I haven’t had the courage to step out and lead, to fight for something larger than my own survival, until now!
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their county.
My Passion to Serve Military Veterans
This past Veteran’s Day I took hours to reflect on the sacrifices made by so many brave men and women who had the courage to defend our freedoms. The United States has a proud heritage of people who have served their country in times of need. Our soldiers, from all branches of the military, have taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. This is a commitment and promise not taken lightly and many soldiers have honorably given their lives to protect our way of life.
At this moment in time we have an overwhelming problem facing our Armed Forces veterans. As our military involvement and presence winds down globally and the downsizing of our military takes place, there will be an estimated one million veterans returning into our communities between now and 2016. This means we could encounter a vast amount of military veterans who will have no job opportunities at the time of their return. Our economy in the United States has been in horrible conditions for the past few years and there is already a high unemployment rate within our nation. What will our troops have to contend with upon their return?
To make matters worse, we already have thousands of veterans dealing with the inadequacies of our government and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs right now. There are people who have served our country faithfully and who have been promised to be taken care of for their commitment – only to be denied of their benefits or lead through a massive trail of rabbit holes in order to get partial assistance. We have men and women right now who have been physically or mentally injured who cannot get the proper care for their wounds. There are widows who do not receive their benefits to properly bury their spouse who served honorably.
My fight is to give as many of these military heroes the rewards they’ve earned and deserve.
I don’t know about you, but I am extremely thankful for the freedoms I enjoy today. It is all because we had men and women who accepted the call to do something greater than themselves even if it meant hardships, injuries, or death. I would not be here in this spot today if it had not been for the 101st Airborne parachuting into Nazi occupied Holland on September 17, 1944. The 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Easy Company, liberated my grandparents in the town of Veghel and saved my mom’s life. This deep appreciation for our freedom is what led me to serve in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve.
This vision I am about to pursue is personal to me for these reasons. It will be my biggest mission I’ve ever taken on and is one hill that I would choose to die on. There is no reason why military veterans cannot get the help and benefits they have earned the right to.
My Vision and My Future
I am currently working on my battle plan. I know what my main objectives are and what my desired outcome is, but there are so many details that it would likely take several posts to share the vision accurately. In fact, I think I will share the vision by video on my new website that will be launched in December. This would likely be the best method. However, I do want to give you a snapshot of a few key components because maybe you will felt called to support the mission or to even lend a hand.
- Operation Screaming Eagles: My first and immediate objective is to donate professional web design training and tools to 101 military veterans. This “operation” and the number of slots available are in honor of the 101st Airborne Division (now Air Assault) who liberated my grandparents and their family in WWII. The application process will be strict but it will provide veterans with an opportunity to learn a very valuable skill and trade for no charge.
- Special, Limited Edition T-Shirts and Prints: I will be releasing a series of custom, limited edition t-shirts and prints that commemorate and celebrate the different branches of the Armed Forces. All (100%) of the profits from these product sales will be donated to non-profit organizations who directly assist military veterans and their families.
- Launch a Digital Marketing and Media Agency in 2014: By far, this will be the biggest part of my vision. My goal is to shut down my current business and relaunch as an agency that will be VETERAN OWNED and that will provide job or work opportunities for military veterans in the web media and marketing industry. Veterans who either have experience in this industry or who have successfully completed training through Operation Screaming Eagles will have an opportunity to be a part of the team.
Additionally, I will be working hard to connect with groups who already provide mentoring and training for veteran entrepreneurs and veteran based start ups. Working side by side with other great organizations will ensure that we can make the largest impact possible.
Some of you may be thinking that this is one tall order to fulfill and you would be right! This is why I cannot do it alone and why I will need to build a team who is as committed to the vision as I am. Some people have told me that the idea just seems too hard to do and that it would be easier to stay in my comfort zone. They would be right as well, but here’s the deal … ANY great vision worth pursuing is going to be difficult, challenging, and painful.
I am not going to let these excuses prevent me from doing something I believe in, especially when other people have made far greater sacrifices than I am about to make. I am fully committed to moving forward regardless of the outcome.
Keep Up with The Mission
For those of you who know me, I am a shoot, move, and communicate kind of guy. It’s my DNA and a part of my military training to charge the hill. If you want to keep up with the mission please subscribe to my email newsletter. If you think you’d like to be involved in some way (or just want to send me a note saying I’m crazy), please shoot me an email.