Reuniting America through Service and Gratitude

This week, our country celebrated the 245th anniversary of the United States Marine Corps and Veterans Day. As the son of a Marine, 20-year Marine veteran, and the father of a Marine, it pains me to see our country divided.

Much like 9/11, Veterans Day this year will come and go without an opportunity to bring communities together in large numbers and celebrate the two things we need right now to reunite America — service, and gratitude.

This premise may seem far fetched to some but think back to what it was like 19 years ago on September 12th when our entire nation was united because we heard and answered the call to serve together. Recall the last time you stood alongside your neighbor at a community event or parade to express appreciation to those who serve. Remember the pride you felt like an American when you volunteered with other grateful citizens who joined forces to give back to their community or others less fortunate in a hands-on way.

Solidarity of Service Will Unite Our Country

We believe that a grateful nation that serves together is a united nation. In our lives, and in America, there is a common thread that demonstrates service to others will bridge divides. And we have seen firsthand that this solidarity of service is the best way, and perhaps the only way, to reunite our country.

It’s Not Just… a Thank You

On October 26, we celebrated the National Day of the Deployed. Operation Gratitude did what we always do to recognize those who are currently serving and those who have served in our military — we took action.

This October, we will assemble and deliver more than 26,000 Care Packages to veterans in all 50 states and DC. Many of these recipients will be isolated and homebound on Veterans Day. Just a few weeks later we will assemble and deliver our signature, Holiday Care Packages to 20,000 Deployed Troops around the world in the midst of a global pandemic.

It’s Not Just… a Handwritten Letter

I’ve heard it hundreds, if not thousands, of times since I started as the CEO of Operation Gratitude three years ago — handwritten letters are the most cherished items in our Care Packages. As a Marine who deployed to more than 50 countries — from the first Gulf War in 1990 -1991 to my time in the Middle East during 2008 — I can tell you nothing boosts morale while you are deployed more than receiving handwritten letters.

It’s Not Just… a Beanie Baby

Each year Operation Gratitude receives tens of thousands of Beanie Babies from grateful Americans across the country, and one goes in every single care package we send to service members deployed around the world.

It’s Not Just… a Care Package

I want you to know, it’s not just a care package… It is an opportunity to go beyond saying “thank you for your service” and build understanding, empathy, and ultimately bridges between civilians and our military, veterans, and first responders.

It’s Not Just… a Battalion Buddy

September 9 is National Teddy Bear Day, and I wanted to share a few stories that demonstrate Operation Gratitude’s Battalion Buddies are much more than just stuffed bears — and give you an opportunity to bring smiles to thousands of military children whose parents will be deployed this September 11th.