This Veterans Day, we reflect on the price of freedom and honor those who have served this great country in uniform. But it’s important to remind ourselves that men and women in the military honor this country with selfless acts every day, and veterans are veterans every other day on the calendar. We ought to be helping them in every way we can, as often as we can.
I believe I was put on this earth to help people, and the best way I know how to do that is by being generous with my time, money and other resources. So, throughout my life, I’ve given enthusiastically to help these American heroes by supporting a number of organizations through the T. Boone Pickens Foundation.
I’ve supported the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation, which recognizes Americans for real unsung acts of courage and sacrifice. It’s the ultimate reminder that every day in the United States and overseas, ordinary citizens perform extraordinary deeds.
There is no shortage of need in this country, but no man or woman who has served this nation needs more support than those who return home injured.
Over the years, I have also donated $1.7 million to Fisher House, a group that donates homes built near major military and VA medical centers. Military members who otherwise would have to travel for specialized medical care can stay at these centers, and their families can be there with them.
Other veteran organizations I have given to over the years include UCLA’s Operation Mend, a joint effort of medical centers in Texas and California to help military personnel in need of reconstructive or plastic surgery; and Patriot PAWS, which provides service dogs at no cost to veterans with mobile disabilities.
Thankfully, there’s also some more incredible life-saving work going on right here in my backyard in Dallas helping veterans.
David Vobora is a former NFL linebacker. He was “Mr. Irrelevant,” the distinction given to the last player drafted each year. And he was the first and only “Mr. Irrelevant” to compete for – and win – a starting roster spot for an NFL team. Several years ago he began training elite athletes at his for-profit gym in Dallas when he met and invited US Army Staff Sergeant Travis Mills to train with him. Mills is a quadruple amputee. He’d lost all four limbs to an improvised explosive devise (IED) in Afghanistan, and, in one moment, his life was forever altered by injury.
With David’s training expertise and Mills’ “Army Strong” attitude, they made significant progress making Staff Sgt. Mills stronger, both physically and mentally. That’s when David realized that somewhere, there was another veteran like Sgt. Mills, and many more after that.
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Brian Aft was up next. Aft, a double-amputee, became badly addicted to opioids, and was mentally and physically broken. In just a few months of training, Aft went from rock bottom to getting stronger, healthier, in less pain, and finally thinking again, “I can do this.”
What was once an elite gym in Dallas transformed into a haven for injured veterans like these two. The gym, named the Adaptive Training Foundation, is now customized for these athletes and their unique disabilities and has helped more than 80 veterans since opening its doors. And in 2018, the Adaptive Training Foundation will open a state-of-the-art, 18,000 square foot headquarters in Carrollton, Texas.
The expansion will allow the non-profit to grow its programs by more than 400 percent in the coming five years. It will also create a growth and sustainability model for recurring revenue as a result of certifying trainers through a “Train the Trainer” adaptive certification.
David’s pulling some of the most courageous people on Earth back up on their feet, often literally. These double-backboned veterans show us what bravery looks like long after they’ve left the battlefield.
David understands that when our men and women come home, when they leave the hospital, when rehab ends, and when their stories fade into humdrum of daily life, these veterans still struggle to lead active and fulfilling lives after their injuries. They need a home and someone to help pull themselves up.
That’s why the work of these military support organizations is so significant, and that’s why we should recognize those like the Adaptive Training Foundation that work to honor and support veterans year-round.
As an American, I couldn’t be prouder.