This is my buddy Tomy Parker. Tomy is a triple amputee USMC veteran. On Dec. 11, 2010, while on a patrol in Afghanistan, he stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device). He lost both of his legs and his left hand (save his thumb).
He was 19 years old.
Upon returning home, well-intended supporters gave Tomy a house, a truck, and a wheelchair, each specially made to function for a man with no legs and one hand. It backfired. Feeling entitled and without purpose, his invisible wounds began to take hold. He stopped pushing. He became addicted to heroin and methamphetamine.
Local law enforcement sympathized with Tomy and his situation but the arrests came frequently. The counseling was continuous. Tomy didn’t care. He kept going back to the drugs. He kept calling his close friends and asking them if they could send him money because he was struggling. Tomy would use the money to buy more drugs.
Finally, law enforcement was fed up with the continual arrests: “Tomy, enough is enough, the only way you are going to learn is if you go to jail.”
As a result of his addiction, Tomy went to prison.
Making a change
When Tomy arrived, they took his wheelchair away and put him in a small cell. He had nothing. His drug addiction would cost him everything, even his wheelchair.
Tomy made a choice to turn his life around. He began working out. He started doing burpees in his jail cell. He worked his way up to 500 burpees a day. Eventually, he was released from prison and went to rehab.
Seeing Tomy embrace discomfort and stay positive puts it all into perspective for me. I ask myself, “What am I complaining about? Traffic? Bad Drivers? Slow Internet? Being on hold for a few minutes? How much do I hate doing burpees?”
Tomy wasn’t looking for a hand out and neither are our veterans. What’s next for Tomy? Tomy is launching his own business and Warrior Rising is helping him do it successfully. With the help of Terri Yontz Miller and the Yontz Valor Foundation, Warrior Rising is helping Tomy launch a business that helps wounded combat veterans find and organize the right tools they need for wheelchair repairs.
Warrior Rising doesn’t give handouts, we give hand ups. Warrior Rising helps veterans like Tomy in the most altruistic way possible — we help them help themselves.
Our process starts with an intake call. One of our trained professionals will set up a personal, one-on-one call with the vetrepreneur. During the call, our specialists listen to the veteran, ask questions, and encourage the vetrepreneur to carefully consider tackling this business challenge. Because, let’s face it, business is tough!
Once in the program, we offer the following resources:
- Warrior Academy: Following the intake call, our vetrepreneurs are given access to our 40-video online training course, which translates the five-paragraph military operations order and military decision making process into a business model.
- Mentorship: Following successful completion of the Warrior Academy, vetrepreneurs are introduced to a mentor. The mentor we assign will work with the vetrepreneur to create a go-to-market strategy. Sometimes this only takes a few weeks, other times much longer. When they are ready, the mentor and the vetrepreneur return to Warrior Rising to present the business plan.
- Financial Assistance: Subject to available funds and other factors, Warrior Rising provides vetrepreneurs grants, loan opportunities, and investment opportunities.
- Community: Helping veterans is not just about helping them find their purpose again, but also their tribe; their community. Warrior Rising has established 19 chapters, which we call Platoons, across the country. (Note, as of the date of publication, COVID-19 has postponed all in-person activities currently, but interested veterans and supporters can still join us on social media channels, including Slack).
Veteran entrepreneurs (vetrepreneurs) and immediate family members who are inspired by and want an opportunity to be self-sufficient, like Tomy, are encouraged to apply for our program at www.warriorrising.org.
What can you do? You can volunteer to donate your time, talent, and/or treasure. We are actively looking for veteran supporters that care enough to act. We need intake specialists, we need mentors, we need donors, and we need FANS! Join the tribe today at www.warriorrising.org. Don’t just sympathize with a veteran’s situation, do something about it!