Veteran's Day 2017 - A Thank You Letter from the Founder
This Veteran's Day, I had the honor of shaking hands and personally thanking more than 75 veterans. It was AMAZING!
What Veteran's Day Means to Me
Veteran's Day is a day that is near and dear to my heart. My father is a veteran who served in the US Army, and I've always had a profound appreciation for veterans. Every year I call Dad and say thanks, then I call all of my friends who served and do the same. This year, I called him from the Pittsburgh Veteran's Day Parade.
I'm not ashamed to admit it, but got really choked up and well, kind of lost it. I think it was the confluence of many things: Veteran's Day, meeting so many vets, appreciating what my Dad and his fellow vets went through, and thinking about how Dad inspired me to start ScoutsOn Watch. Needless to say, I didn't get many words out, but I think Dad got the picture, that I was really grateful for all that he did for this country and for inspiring me to start this company, so I could give back.
The Importance of Saying 'Thanks'
There is something special about thanking a veteran for their service on Veteran's Day, or any day. When you say 'thank you for your service' and shake their hand, the reaction that you receive is most often a very quiet one. Typically, the veteran might say 'thank you' or 'it was my pleasure,' but the one consistent thing that I've observed is that a veteran always looks you in the eye and says more through their gaze than any words they would ever utter.
Maybe I'm reading into it, but I see many different things flash into their eyes: pride, appreciation, sadness, longing, and remembrance, to name a few. But I also see immense gratitude because of the recognition. Though I may never see what those eyes have seen in the past, I know that those strong eyes have seen more than most, and I know that it is our duty to thank them for their sacrifice.
(Trying to) Give Away 1 Billion 'Thanks' to our Veterans
This Veteran's Day, I knew that I wanted to do something special for veterans to show my appreciation and express my gratitude. I had two ideas: (1) to try to get as many people as possible to thank as many veterans as possible and (2) to give away #veterans tees shirts to veterans on Veteran's Day. For the first item, I hit Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter with a video that I made. The video had a simple premise: Let's give away 1 Billion 'Thanks' on Veteran's Day. Maybe I was a bit ambitious, but I wanted to get the word out in a big way. I shared this video on every platform that I could, and the response was amazing! I don't know if I hit the target of '1 Billion thanks,' but if we convinced one person to say thanks to one veteran, it was totally worth it.
A Little Something Extra to Show My Appreciation -#Veterans Tee Shirts for our Veterans
I knew that I wanted to do something a little extra on Veteran's Day, so I decided to have some of our #Veteran tee shirts printed and then give them away to veterans and servicemen and women at the Veteran's Day Parade. I was so stoked about the opportunity to do something special!
I'm in the process of switching over our apparel production to a local, Pittsburgh Company called Clockwise, so I went to them and put in an order for a dozen shirts that I could give away. The shirts finished just in the nick of time, and I got to give them away on Veteran's Day! I can't explain how special it made me feel to get to physically give something back to veterans. I only wish that I could have given more.
This wasn't some sort of promotional thing, and I didn't even mention that I had a company unless someone asked. This giveaway was about veterans and that's where I kept the focus. I gave the first one away to a Vietnam vet and the majority of the rest were given to active duty servicemen and women. There was a swarm towards me at the end, and the shirts were gone in pretty short order. It felt so good to give something back and to know that I played a small part in making their Veteran's Day a special one. It was freezing outside, but my heart was very warm.
First and foremost, thank you to each and every veteran, active duty soldier, member of active reserve. Though Veteran's Day is your designated 'day,' please know that you are valued and cherished every day of the year. Your sacrifices allow us to live the lives that we choose without fear and without concern. You are all heroes of the highest order.
Secondly, thank you to each and every military spouse and military family. As an Army Brat, I know that military service is difficult on families and that sacrifices are made both on an off the battlefield. You are the support that our soldiers and veterans need, and you serve as a constant reminder of what veterans and servicemen and woman are fighting to protect.
Thanks to everyone who has shown support for ScoutsOn Watch and all that we are trying to accomplish. My goal is to bring awareness of and appreciation for veterans. Building an appreciation-based movement is a labor of love for me and your support fuels that fire that keeps me going on those late nights.
Lastly, I want to thank my Mom (former military spouse) and my Dad (Army veteran) for the inspiration to build ScoutsOn Watch and for the continued motivation to keep pressing on. Hooah!
Wes Williams, Founder of ScoutsOn Watch