OSD Summer Veteran Support Ecosystem Update

Seems that each day, the moment we get to a point where our collective decisions are settled, something unseen starts the process over again. This has been a near daily occurrence since late March. Despite all of the tumultuousness and upheaval, we’ve refined strategies and birthed new approaches to ensure that as an organization and as a broader community we’re able to focus on the ongoing support of veterans and their families and creatively addressing mental health and wellness.

76 Operators™

76 Operators is a military and veteran support community.
We fight together, we work together and we play together.
We support each other and welcome the broader community, united in addressing and solving mental health challenges.

One glaring blindspot that was seen early in COVID19 lockdown was a lack of a defined community within OSD. Many would argue OSD itself is a community, and we might agree. The challenge continued to be that our ecosystem has such a diverse reach and set of programs once all these individuals came together there was not a clear focus.

76 Operators was born (officially on June 7th) from this realization, for the community, by the community. We are also thrilled to announce the Mike Lambert will lead 76 Operators as Executive Community Director. Mike is a Navy veteran and has been actively volunteering in many of the OSD online communities for 3+ years. He can be credited with helping drive the creation of the 76ops community.

As of today, you can join the conversation on the community partnered Discord server and find fellow veterans and supporters to chat about work and family, find time to play games, and maybe win some merch from some great partners. The community will continue to build as a clear voice that is values aligned with the larger ecosystem.

Veteran Support Ecosystem™

As time continued to progress and we settled into an attempted understanding of the economic landscape of COVID19. While some OSD programs, like Games to Grunts and Operation Supply Drop, have record demand, others centered around corporate led professional development have all but disappeared due to office closures. Further, the broader ecosystem message was getting lost amidst the daily attention grab within the media. We needed to get focused.

Officially as of August 1, 2020, each of our programs are now separate operating entities as ‘DBAs’ under Operation Supply Drop, Inc. This allows a larger amount of flexibility with messaging, the ability to install leadership with more power at the program level and more importantly provide better service through these initiatives.

The companies are: Operation Supply Drop®, Games to Grunts™, Heroic Forces™, Heroes Gone Wild™, VETOBER® Foundation, 8-Bit Salute™ & 76 Operators™. OSD itself is the parent company handling much of the shared services including marketing, communications, legal, finance and human resources.

Some will then coordinate more closely due to demographic alignments.

Gaming

Operation Supply Drop® continues to be resource strained due to demand from active military troops. Recreation centers are still closed, troops are still having deployments extended and Operation Supply Drop stands as the largest outfit to be able to address this need. By shifting to a standalone organization they will be able to more clearly message the need that we all know must be met. Each Supply Drop can cost over $1,000 and impact more than 250 troops which seems a small price to pay on our end for those men and women serving. Check out more at: OperationSupplyDrop.org

Games to Grunts™ will continue to grow the emphasis on digital distribution and connection. The same challenges that exist with Supply Drops have hit Games to Grunts ten-fold with so many veterans stuck at home. During March and April, over 1/3 of the new Games to Grunts members had not previously used steam. Operationally the team will focus on developer relations and customer support as gaming continues to build popularity as a viable first line mental health and wellness activity. Games to Grunts needs committed partners that understand the value of gaming to the veteran community.

8-Bit Salute™ will coordinate more closely with the messaging and outreach of Operation Supply Drop and Games to Grunts. 8-Bit Salute will be lead by veteran and gaming community sweetheart, Jeff Bartrom who is stepping in as Executive Director. Bottom line, the campaign continues to grow in the gaming community and the new leadership and focused messaging will certainly put more games in the hand of our service members.

VETOBER® Foundation

The VETOBER Foundation is a restructured organization that will lead the annual VETOBER: One Day is not Enough campaign. Robert Marshall, a veteran and long-time OSD volunteer leader, has enthusiastically accepted responsibility as executive director. Robert will help lead and shape a strong message aimed at continuing to bridge the perception gap not just between veterans and civilians, but also between veterans.

Heroic Forces was the program most impacted by COVID19. Heroic Forces counts companies including Google, Facebook, Oracle and Box as partners where numerous workshop and volunteer opportunities have been completed over the prior years. Many of these companies do not expect their employees to return for months (and in some cases, ever) and the Veteran ERGs (Employee Resource Group) are nearly nonexistent.

We’ve pivoted these initiatives into online workshops and opportunities thanks to the quick-thinking and fast-acting abilities of Executive Director, Maxine Ababa. Maxine has been leading professional development initiatives and workshops for OSD in Texas including a relationship with Salesforces’s VETFORCE program which just passed the one-year mark. Heroic Forces will work closely with the VETOBER Foundation to lead the message regarding professional development and employment opportunities.

Heroes Gone Wild™

Since 2014, Heroes Gone Wild™ has served as the foundation for the OSD Veterans Outdoors and Off-Trail recreational therapy program. We are excited to have Scott Morrison step in to what many would believe is his dream role as Executive Director. Scott has been with OSD for over 5 years and previously served as Chief Operating Officer. The Heroes Gone Wild program is headquartered in Seguin, Texas.

Semper Deinceps

Regardless of the challenges ahead, we will continue to serve faithfully. There is nothing predictable besides unpredictability and we’d not expect anything else ahead of our 10 year anniversary in November. We’re grateful for the continued support and care at a time when it’s often easier to focus only on one’s self or own family.

Semper Deinceps. Always Forward.