What does the Veteran food distribution mean to me?

RJ’s Mission started with a personal mission to get myself involved with the local community helping to support our local Charleston Veterans.  I had no idea where to begin except to search and reach out to non-profits in the search criteria.  Where better to start than with Professor Google?  Once I went through a few links to other non-profits, I found Soldiers’ Angels.

I have never been a person shy about showing up or signing up and doing it alone.  I signed up through their website and showed up.  I am continuously looking for ways to give back and support those that served.  The beginning of RJ’s Mission started, and the giving back part of our mission was born.  My mission is to help and change the life of another with support and thanks.

Once a month, Soldiers’ Angels have a Veteran food distribution at the local Elk Club in Charleston, SC.  I showed up, and the rest fell into place.  I was pulling into the parking lot, and like anything else, I felt worried, and I was not quite sure.  I had butterflies, but my attitude was at ease.  I could not stop feeling the emotions of gratitude and giving thanks even before I talked to anyone there. 

Jumping In

I jumped right in with the meat tent assignment, and no matter how the meat smelled or wet it got from defrosting in the hot sun, it was an amazing feeling to begin my new path.  I began to forget about the actual work I was doing with the team and started to feel gratitude for preparing the food for those we needed to serve.  Then the line of cars began rolling in, and I realized how significant the food was for the families coming through the line.  The first veteran family came driving up to our station, which was first.

As I put the meat in the car, I could walk around and thank the Veteran and their family.  The action of thanking them becomes overwhelming when you stop to realize you wouldn’t have the freedom and privilege to do so without their sacrifice.  My mission begins with changing the life of another, and it includes an entire family.  The purpose has so much passion and fulfillment inside you, and that is how it becomes your mission.

During the Veteran food distribution, I met so many great people and realized there are so many like-minded like me.  This event is just the beginning of my journey to helping and supporting those that serve and to keep giving back each day as if it was the last.  I met folks from a local church, Coastal Community Church, which focused primarily on outreach. This helped me find guidance and the significance of having others in the community doing the same thing.  The way I saw the community come together in a time of need for our Veterans and their families is encouraging and empowering, but it doesn’t stop here.  I must live each day helping others and spreading the word for awareness and support.


What does 9/11 mean to me?

As the 20th anniversary approached, 9/11 became a more prominent element in my everyday life.  I always remembered and honored 9/11 in past years but never stopped to realize the real and complete meaning of the event and what occurred afterward.

In the past few years, I began realizing the ultimate sacrifice that our veterans and active-duty service members have given for our nation and families.  I had always supported the military community but never thought about the sacrifice beyond their own life.  And that was my ignorance and selfishness.

Supporting our veterans and active duty is not enough in my eyes as I learn more that my support was not the proper support.  I did not understand that emotional support is one piece of the bigger picture.  My support must go beyond emotion and become a physical presence in my everyday life.  I have always supported by donating and having compassion, but I never understood what it meant to support.  As my journey continues with RJ’s Mission, I am discovering my humility and selflessness by giving back in service to those that serve.

I have learned the ultimate sacrifice is how these brave men and women not only served to protect our freedom but gave up the everyday things we take for granted.  Our military service members may never have a family, see their kids grow up, attend a friend’s wedding, a relative’s funeral, or wake up knowing their family is safe.  When you put all that aside for others you do not know, you are a savior, a warrior, a protector, and a peacemaker to our nation.

“My first reaction was to head home and grab what I needed to get out of town”

When 9/11 occurred, I remember the feeling of loss, fear, and panic.  My first reaction was to head home and grab what I needed to get out of town.

Many of my friends felt the same way as we prepared to take a trip out to the Shenandoah Mountain range.  It was a natural reaction at the time but slowing it all down the many victims and people that suffered afterward is enormous, along with the feeling of uncertainty.  As years passed, I constantly remembered and prayed for those families during their time of loss, only to realize I lost nothing.

That statement is not intended to destroy the security we felt before 9/11 in the United States.  It is meant to put my feelings of loss aside because that day never left us.  Those families lost innocent loved ones, and those that jumped into action are our heroes who continue to suffer from the after-effects.  9/11 and the aftermath showed our nation many things.  Our everyday heroes came to the rescue without questions, sacrificing their lives for others.  Our community of neighbors, friends, and family enlisting to protect our country from foreign enemies.  We must honor their sacrifice.

9/11/2021 was the year my wife and I participated in the 9/11 Heroes Run for the first time without a second thought.  We were not supporting anyone but all those unknown to us because we realized we could do better.  We can do more, and sometimes more is not enough.  Both of us cried during the opening ceremonies, which is when it came together.  On this day, we felt what we should do each day from the beginning on 9/12/01, unity.  We are in the right place with like-minded people, and as I struggled each step to finish the 5k, I was moving towards my commitment to the people I will never know, yet they gave it all for me.

My Covenant

My covenant each day now is to honor our fallen heroes by helping their families, to support our veterans, active duty, and first responders when called upon, and I will do so without question.  Our freedom is never stronger shoulder to shoulder with unity formed from 9/11/01.  Serving those that serve is a greater cause than yourself.  This, I believe.