I served in the United States Marine Corps for three years. I was deployed in 2001, just after the September 11th attacks, and again in 2003 during the invasion of Iraq. After my final deployment, I returned to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton. But just a few nights after arriving back in the states, I was involved in a car accident that left me paralyzed from the neck down.
The six years following the accident were some of the toughest I’ve ever experienced, and I wasn’t sure what the future might hold for me. I felt like everything had been taken from me, and it was hard not to focus on all the things I could no longer do. But everything changed when I discovered the world of adaptive sports, which let me experience the camaraderie of the military again and the adrenaline rush of competitive sports.
This discovery was a major turning point in my life, and I knew I needed to share these experiences with other veterans like me. But these events are expensive. So my friends and I started the Oscar Mike Foundation to provide funding for wounded, ill or injured veterans to participate in adaptive sports. The foundation is named for a term we used in the military, “Oscar Mike," which means to get “on the move.” To raise money and minimize overhead costs for the foundation, we also started Oscar Mike Apparel, an American-made lifestyle brand that offers T-shirts and activewear through our online store.
Most of our apparel sales happen through our website. With the help of Google Ads and free resources from Grow with Google—like a livestreamed workshop on connecting with customers online—I’ve been able to share our mission with more people around the world. Since 2011, 400 veterans from all around the country have participated in our programs, and we’ve offered more than 1,000 sporting scholarships.
Today, together with Grow with Google and the Google Veterans Network—an internal community of military veterans, service members, civilian allies and family members—we’ll meet with transitioning service members and veterans for a career workshop in New York. There, we’ll offer resume and job search support as they figure out their next moves in civilian life. So many veterans struggle to determine their next steps after leaving the military, and at Oscar Mike, we want to help wounded, ill or injured veterans set new goals and find purpose again.
To learn more about free tools and resources that can help veterans find their next move, visit Grow with Google.