A Constant Reminder of Unity, Strength, and Hope

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This R.E.D. Friday, as we remember everyone deployed, Operation Gratitude will fittingly launch our annual Red, White, and Blue Paracord Bracelet Challenge. This year’s competition is very important to me personally — I desperately want it to be a success for our volunteers, for our men and women in uniform, and for our country.

For our volunteers, the challenge provides a tangible way to give back and a sense of purpose during a difficult and trying time. For those who serve, our actions will demonstrate that we support and believe in them during these times of crises. For our country, this is an opportunity for communities to come together — not only during a time of great challenge, but also at a time when we normally celebrate the freedoms we all enjoy as Americans.

While they may seem like simple acts of gratitude, the paracord bracelets that our volunteers make with love and care mean so much more to our recipients than I can express in words. They are symbolic of Operation Gratitude’s mission to forge strong bonds between those who serve and the citizens they protect. These bracelets, crafted with the strongest cord in the world, are also a constant reminder of unity, strength, and hope for so many of our recipients, and for the volunteers who make them 

This is not hyperbole. The week before I started as the CEO of Operation Gratitude I spent 40 hours scanning our website, reading Mail Call, and the thousands of emails we received from care package recipients over the years. This email dated January 9, 2013, from a young Sailor who received a 2012 Holiday Care Package literally stopped me in my tracks and brought me to tears:

Dear Fellow Americans, 

I recently received a care package from Operation Gratitude. In moments my energy was back, like a second wind-powered by a 5-Hour Energy shot. And it may sound silly, but the Beanie Baby brought an odd feeling of comfort to a grown man. Most importantly were the handwritten letters and paracord survival bracelet. On that day, I was beginning to lose hope.  I now wear this bracelet as a constant reminder that no matter how hard the road ahead may be, there are people counting on me and I can’t give up on them. 

You saved my life.
AE2 R.L., The Lone Sailor

For the next three weeks, we have an opportunity to bring hope to tens of thousands of men and women like this lonely Sailor. They, too, need a reminder that no matter how hard the road ahead, there are people like YOU who care deeply; people who understand and appreciate the sacrifices they are making in service to our nation; people who are counting on them. One thing I can tell you for sure — they will not give up on you.  

I can share countless other emails from recipients with stories about how they used the paracord bracelets in emergency situations and about the tangible impact YOUR actions have made repeatedly, day after day.

Now I’m asking you to act again at a time when our Deployed Service Members and Frontline Responders need your support more than ever. 

As we approach July 4th and reflect on what that day represents and the things we must do together to strengthen communities and unite our nation, please join me and make a difference for those who continue to serve with honor, courage, and commitment. 

My sincere appreciation to you for your dedication, your kindness, and your continued support of Operation Gratitude. I can’t thank you enough for being a constant reminder to our nation’s heroes that we will never give up on them either.

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Building Bridges with Our Nation’s Heroes

Our team is asking you to stay the course with us and go a step beyond saying “thank you for your service.”

We’re asking you to help us build bridges between civilians and our men and women in uniform and their families in communities nationwide.

Support, See, and Stand with Them

As you read these words, there are moms and dads saying goodbye to their kids at airports just like I did on January 25, 2008 when my oldest son Luke turned 13. I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was on my way to Israel where I would spend the better part of my final year as a United States Marine. My youngest son, Jack, who was then 7, cried inconsolably, clutching the back of my neck and refusing to let go.