The program has changed ... EVERYONE is invited to post a message for the troops ...
We are just beginning this part of the program ... Watch our map grow ...
CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE MESSAGE MAP
Old school heroes ... These folks gave our troops the very shirt off their backs! All we ask you to do is send them some words from your heart ...
This is NOT for advertising or promoting your causes. Thanks!
Each message on the map will have a specific icon. As we go along, you will have the ability to choose your most appropriate icon, this is the reason we ask for your most correct category ... Stay tuned
Remember in your messages to always adhere to the guidelines of NO Politics ~ NO pro/antiwar stances ... It is about the warrior, not the war & it is all about positive morale
IF you like you can add photos/video to your mark on the map. Any questions/concerns, please use this link to contact us directly.
April 28, 2010 ...
OPEN LETTER FROM THE DIRECTOR OF THE HERO TO HERO TROOP MORALE CAMPAIGN - SHIRT PLEDGE DRIVE IS CLOSED!
Tomorrow, April 28th, is a most significant day in our history. Until that day, Hero To Hero was a Washington State based program to honor Washington's deployed troops.
Our message was that our first responders were willing to give the very shirts off their backs - regardless of their personal politics. It was truly about the warrior, not the war.
Why did April 28th make the program change? Because that was the day that war became personal. That was the day our own family member was killed in Iraq. This program honors, specifically, two fallen heroes ... US Army Stryker, Sgt Jake Herring & Tacoma police officer James G Lewis. Both were killed in their respective lines of duty. Both served in the military. Both were memorialized the same day in early May.
I attended both memorials and (probably while in the grief process) determined that we needed to do more than just add a name to a wall ... we needed to honestly remember. And so it was that the national - and eventual international - Hero Shirt Drive began. And a what "drive" it was!
Honoring one of Jake's loves, we chose the number 55 for his then retired high school football jersey. And I personally drove nearly every mile of the (inter)national tours to honor the fallen & wounded. The tours were 55 cities, over 12,000 miles and lasted up to 6 weeks on the road.
We did 4 tours with an equivalency of twice around the equator by the time I was forced to quit after developing osteo-arthritis in my knees. We have been able to send more than 35,000 shirts off the backs of heroes to our desert-deployed and wounded troops since Jake & James died, and met some amazing people.
Why do I tell you this? Because tomorrow on the 6th anniversary of Jake & James deaths, the Hero Shirt Pledge Drive is closed! Does this mean I have changed my mind or heart? No! What it means is that I can simply no longer try so hard to do what seemed so simple when the emotions of war enabled so many to open their hearts for our troops.
This was a difficult decision to make, and a long time coming. I tried, and a lot of other people tried to help. as well. But I can honestly look in the mirror and know that along with some pretty great people we have done such wonderful things for so many ... And we should all be very proud of that!
I'm not angry; maybe a little sad, but let's look at this as a positive. We can still do good for the morale of our troops. What does this mean to our supporters? It means that if a troop contacts us personally for a shirt we will try to make that happen via our contacts, but we will no longer seek to make the Pledges happen.
Many of you are not aware that in the States, I have been running the program single-handedly for over two years. (The situation is the same in Canada, as the entire program is handled personally by Sarnia firefighter, Kevin McHarg.) After 7 years of this, I can tell you personally that the work is never-ending, the pay is non-existent, the costs are many, & the rewards are unbelievable.
Our teams were composed of mostly Gold Star families, or wounded troops & their families ... They would eventually get medically boarded & start trying to fight for their veterans rights, as that became all consuming, there was simply no time left to give to this cause. It hurt, but we understood.
So am I going to fold up & go away? Should I? Suppose that is up to all of you. My thought is that rather than asking anyone to Pledge shirts, why not give the gift of words & thoughts from our heart? (Still, NO politics and NO pro/antiwar stances!) And I will still do what I can to honor and pay respects to the men and women who selflessly put their lives at risk for us everyday ... photo ops, visits & morale efforts for the military, veterans, fire, police and ems. My heart has not changed.
The Message for our Troops form will now allow ANYONE who wants to post their message for their desert-deployed troops to a map that everyone can see & read ... most importantly, our troops. You can also add photos and/or video messages.
While our friends to the north are more than welcome to join us & send messages to the troops, please remember, THERE ARE NO CHANGES TO HERO TO HERO TEAM CANADA'S PROGRAM!!!! Shirts are still needed & are collected as we did in the beginning of the stateside program. http://www.herotoheroteamcanada.com/HomePage.html
Thank you to everyone who has & does support the Hero To Hero Troop Morale Campaign, and for all of you who stepped up for your troops via your Pledges and your shirts ... Like it or not, you are heroes!
Director/Founder - Hero To Hero Troop Morale Campaign