Solidarity of Service Will Unite Our Country

I know many of you voted this week and are concerned about the results.  Voting it is a fundamental right that all our brave men and women in uniform swear an oath to support and defend. Millions have fought and died for us to exercise that right.

In the midst of these elections, I hope you take a minute to reflect on this and realize that our service members and veterans have also fought and died for our country to be united — not divided.

We have an opportunity to rally together and demonstrate to tens of thousands of veterans who served and those serving today that Americans back home are united. We are united both in service and gratitude to them for the sacrifices they and their families make every day.

In the coming days, Operation Gratitude will reach our 3 Millionth Care Package milestone! We will accomplish this remarkable achievement with the upcoming delivery of Care Packages to more than 26,000 Veterans in all 50 states and Washington DC.

We will do this without fanfare for a couple of reasons. First, we want to share this special moment in a memorable way with our team and our volunteers — in recognition that it is YOU who made this possible. On the day when Operation Gratitude surpasses 3 million heroes impacted — when our team of volunteers, donors, and supporters reaches that milestone together with deliveries to Veterans who are isolated and homebound on Veterans Day  — we will share it with you through Facebook Live videos from across the country. To keep updated, please make sure you “like” our Facebook page.

Second, we don’t have time to stop and celebrate. We still have a lot of work to do in 2020 to support those deployed in harm’s way around the world and frontline responders here at home fighting COVID-19. We’ve said it before — they cannot stop, so we will not stop. I utter those words with confidence because I know you will help make it possible. In the midst of the pandemic, I have seen our volunteers nationwide step up like never before.

With our FOB unable to host large scale service projects and Assembly Days, many of our longtime Blue Shirts in Los Angeles continue to give back in significant ways from their own homes. Additionally, dedicated OG Ambassadors, like Sara Field, are organizing COVID-safe community-building events on their own initiative in other parts of the country, because they know the Operation Gratitude team can’t be there in person.

Sara single-handedly coordinated a community-wide appreciation luncheon that impacted 100 police officers, firefighters, and EMTs from two small towns near her husband’s duty station in Illinois on National First Responder Appreciation Day.

Sara’s journey with Operation Gratitude started when military children in her husband’s squadron in New Jersey received our Battalion Buddies in March of 2019.  She then volunteered at our Assembly Day in Philadelphia, organized a delivery of Battalion Buddies to children in a sister squadron, and wrote a blog about our military families program nationally.

At a time when our country and communities are divided, Sara’s service and acts of gratitude in Illinois last week are great examples for all of us to emulate, and they are needed now more than ever.

Despite COVID restrictions, there are several ways you can get involved and give back to servicemen and women and their families before the end of the year. Here are the three things that we will only accomplish with YOUR help!

Just two months after 9/11, we have opportunities once again to build bridges. Operation Gratitude will not let the pandemic, social unrest, and the elections steal these opportunities away from communities in need. The actions of our volunteers and Ambassadors like Sara have given me hope, and I know that together we can overcome any challenge and find new opportunities to bring communities together.

Over the next few weeks, we will serve together alongside our volunteers in a hands-on way to support local police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and veterans across the country. These service projects and in-person deliveries of Halloween Candy for first responders and Veterans Day Care Packages are not only expressions of gratitude, they are real opportunities to unite Americans.

At Operation Gratitude, 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.

I hope you know how proud I am to be a part of the OG family and serve alongside grateful Americans like you.

If you want to read more about how service and gratitude can unite our nation, please take a few minutes to read this blog that I wrote with a fellow Marine veteran for a magazine called The Hill yesterday.

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Channeling the Holiday Spirit this Summer

Amidst the heat of the summer, an image of logs crackling in the fireplace and casting a glow on stockings hung above is probably the last thing to come to mind for most people. But for Operation Gratitude and our growing army of volunteers nationwide, the holiday spirit is always in our thoughts.

More Than Just a Hug

When I look back at my journey over the past 3 years and 8 months as the CEO of Operation Gratitude, the one thing that sticks out the most are the hugs.

They are etched in my memory forever — literally thousands of hugs at hundreds of service projects and community-building events — on too many trips, and in too many cities to count, from sea to shining sea.