Since September 11, 2001, more than two million service members have been deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan. Many of these men and women are at outposts with minimal food and supplies, and they lack the means to obtain these supplies. Often times, what keeps these soldiers going from day-to-day is knowing they’re not alone; that there are people who care about them and appreciate the freedoms they have given up so that we can still have ours.
The Douglas J Green Memorial Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing comfort and support to soldiers through sending thoughtful and useful care packages during their deployment and planning exciting and memorable experiences for soldiers to look forward to once they return home.
When Doug Green was killed in action on August 28, 2011, he left behind a letter that was to be read at his memorial service to everyone in attendance. A portion of the letter stated:
I will always love and cherish all of the time I was given on this Earth and am thankful for this life and everyone in it. I have learned so much from all of the good times, as well as the bad times. If I could leave you with any words of wisdom, it would be two things that I have always tried to live my life by and that is to make sure you always put yourself in the position of anyone you ever have contact with. You will never truly know a man or woman until you try to see things from their perspective. Secondly, never pass judgment or put anger on someone too quickly or too harshly, because I guarantee you that person is fighting a battle that you know nothing about. Also, avoid self-checkout lines at supermarkets…that dumb robot cashier will always end up yelling at you about something and it’ll just stress you out.
We believe there is a powerful message in this excerpt, and we, as individuals and as members of this organization, strive to live up to these words every day. We also aim to keep Doug’s spirit alive by carrying his light-heartedness and unwavering integrity in everything that we do.
Our most important value – To us, integrity means having the ability to do the right thing, even when no one is watching.
Soldiers already have enough seriousness in their lives, so we bring tons of fun to the table by encouraging a carefree, cheerful, and adventurous environment at all of our activities and in our daily interactions.
“See Things From Their Perspective”
We put ourselves in the shoes of the soldiers who are currently deployed, or just returning home, to help us better understand their struggles and provide them with moments that bring happiness and light to help them overcome those struggles.
“Never Pass Judgment”
We are extremely inclusive here at Douglas J Green Memorial Foundation. We extend comfort and support to all soldiers regardless of branch, rank, gender, age, or race. The same goes for our volunteers too.
“Avoid Self-Checkout Lines”
Yep, we even try to live by this one, but sometimes those normal checkout lines are just too long! So if you ever catch us in the self-checkout line, please don’t take a picture…we’re already getting yelled at by the machine anyway! 🙂
How We Got Started
On August 28, 2011, Specialist Douglas Jay Green, a wonderful and inspiring son, brother, boyfriend, and friend of the members of the organization, was killed in action when he was shot with a rocket-propelled grenade in Kandahar, Afghanistan. During Doug’s deployment, each of us were lucky enough to talk with him frequently and we not only learned about his struggles, but more importantly, we learned what got him through those struggles and how we could help.
Food & Supplies
Doug’s outpost in Afghanistan was extremely isolated and there was very little food or supplies. The men stationed there were, at times, only guaranteed dinner, and Doug, among others, was constantly hungry. With patrolling up to 16 hours a day and being involved in multiple firefights, sources of energy were a necessity. Doug asked us to send food(and lots of it) so we sent packages on a weekly basis, which helped tremendously. After he received those packages, his voice always sounded different, he was more upbeat and his worries from the day seemed to subside.
While Doug had us as a support system, he informed us that many other soldiers in his unit didn’t have the same luxury. They received very few, if any, packages. Doug encouraged us to take them under our wing and help them out, as well. It wasn’t long before we started to realize just how many men and women go through deployments lacking food, hygiene products, and warm blankets…items that the majority of us take for granted on a daily basis.
Bad Days & Good Times To Look Forward To
The war is definitely not pretty, and bad days for the soldiers are more frequent than not. Doug was no different. His friends were getting injured every day and he saw things many of us will never have to. He was tired, frustrated, and he wanted to come home. One thing that really kept him moving forward and lifted his spirits was knowing that when he got home he would get to go to Las Vegas for his little sister’s birthday and he had a trip planned to Hawaii with his girlfriend. These sure-to-be memorable moments turned those bad days into hopeful and exciting ones.
While Doug was alive, he was a huge advocate of helping others and was involved in multiple non-profit organizations that supported the military and he encouraged others around him to do the same. Doug impacted so many lives during his time on this earth with his infectious, uplifting personality and his warm smile. We knew we had to carry that forward and keep his spirit and memory alive. So our efforts to keep one soldier (our soldier) comfortable and happy while he was deployed, has turned into something much more. It has turned into our passion and our goal to provide this comfort and support to as many men and women serving our country as we possibly can.
How We Plan To Help
Our first step is to sponsor service members who are from the Loudoun County area. We will reach out to families in the area whose loved ones (sons, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, etc.) are currently deployed, determine their specific needs, and provide them with those items. We will also reach out to our contacts at military bases in the Washington Metropolitan Area and sponsor units that are currently deployed from those locations. We will package up these boxes and send them off ourselves, so we will surely need helping hands! We will have a “packing day” once a week where volunteers can help us organize the packages and send them out.
Adventures in Camo
During service members’ deployments, we will reach out to them and their families to learn more about them personally. For example, their favorite sports teams, players, restaurants, and their idea of a perfect day. With this information, we can use our resources to plan an event for a day once the soldier returns home, whether it’s attending a game with their family, meeting their favorite sports player, or spending an exciting day with a friend at a theme park. We will initially give back to the soldiers we sponsor from the local area.
Military Supporters We Support
A percentage of our funds raised from each event will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project, which is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to raise awareness about the needs of injured service members and help them overcome obstacles they face due to their injuries, including PTSD. Doug thought the world of this organization and so do we! They support and comfort those who have given up a great deal while serving their country, and because of that we support them.
Down the Road
Once we get our feet on the ground, we plan to hit the ground running. After the first year, we aim to begin accepting requests from anywhere in the United States. This request can come from family members or friends of soldiers, or it can come from the soldiers themselves. Our long-term goal would be to eventually send volunteers to welcome our sponsored soldiers when they return home.
Adventures in Camo
We plan to take this aspect of our non-profit organization much further after our first year. We will continue to develop our connections and reach out to airlines, hotels, cruise lines, and sports teams across the nation. It is our goal to partner with, or become sponsored by, these organizations and work with them to plan trips and extended stays to give back to some of our sponsored soldiers. A few of the ideas we have in mind are to provide a soldier and his or her significant other/spouse a trip to Hawaii, another soldier a trip to Disneyland with his or her children, another soldier a trip to Las Vegas, or an opportunity to take a friend to an NFL game to interact with their favorite player and stand on the field for the game. We believe that surprising the soldier with this news during their deployment will go a long way to help them during the remainder of their time on duty.
Military Supporters We Support
As a part of the military family, we realize there are numerous causes that support service members and their families. During our first year we will be open to discover other non-profit organizations whose stories touch our hearts. After the first year, in addition to donating a percentage of our funds to the Wounded Warrior Project, we will expand to donate more of our funds to other non-profit organizations that have similar goals and values.
To us, nothing is out of reach. The unimaginable is attainable and we will never stop believing in our soldiers, in our ability to make a difference, or in other’s desires to help out along the way.