A Personal “Thank You” to Our Veterans
On Veteran’s Day and every day, I am thankful for your service and all you represent, not just as the President of Next Step, but as the proud son of a Navy veteran.
In fact, the military has had a profound impact on my life and our mission at Next Step. After serving twenty years, my dad retired from the Navy as a master chief. He had enlisted as a young man, searching for something meaningful after the loss of both his parents. What he found was a culture and people that modeled sacrifice, integrity, and the commitment to being part of a mission much larger than he was – one where he could make a difference. As he often told me, “the Navy saved my life.” After he retired, the invaluable experience and training he had gained through his service opened up a successful second career opportunity with Sanders Associates (now part of BAE), a defense contractor. As his son, I grew up knowing one thing – if I did nothing else, I wanted to find a way to thank the military for saving my Dad and giving me my strong family and home.
I found that opportunity when I started Next Step over twenty years ago. It was clear I needed to make it my mission to do everything I could, in and out of my business, to support and honor my father by serving his fellow veterans. I had the privilege of serving as a board member on the NH State Veterans Cemetery Organization and help with the successful effort to make our state’s cemetery a beautiful and dignified place, one that honored our veterans’ last resting place as an enduring sign of gratitude for their service. As a founding member of the 11 -year-old Easterseals Veterans Count organization, I am happy to share that we have raised over $6.5 million that has directly helped nearly 10,000 individuals in such areas as suicide prevention, employment, critical resource referrals, preventing homelessness, food, and much more. Fully 90% of everything we raise goes directly to help NH veterans, service members, and their families. Still, there is much more to do.
At Next Step, we’ve worked with veterans from the Vietnam era and many young veterans from our recent military operations overseas. Our driving mission is to give our veterans their best life. It is a privilege to serve each and every one of you. You are much more than a patient. You are part of our family. Looking to the future, we are especially proud of our local partnership with Dean Kamen (DEKA), and BioDesigns of Southern California in the development and testing of the LUKE arm, a revolutionary development in prosthetics that will make a true difference in our veterans’ quality of life. In fact, we hope to fit our first veteran with the LUKE arm in the next week.
Again, from this Navy son, and all of us at Next Step, thank you. Your accomplishments, sacrifices, and humility are a true inspiration. As a nation, we owe you a debt that can never truly be repaid. I promise to continue my commitment to not only bring both awareness and gratitude for your sacrifice, but the action needed to support you with our best when you return home.