My Conversation with U.S Navy Veteran on Military, Patriotism and YOU MATTER
More than a decade ago, I met Clint Bruce; if you know Clint, you know he is a connector, one who wants nothing more than for folks to find their calling in life and will help you get there – it may be through an introduction, a deep conversation, a reminder of your own why or a thought provoking message.
When my path crossed with Clint’s in 2010, I knew I had found a friend, but little did I know that our chance meeting would help shape my life’s path and lead me to where I am today. Meeting him was a pivot point for me, and Clint was the spark that fueled my passion to give back when Veterans come back. Because of Veterans like him and those he introduced me to, I’m living out my calling to serve the military community.
I touched base with the magnetic, force multiplier to get his thoughts about who we are at Boot Campaign, what we do and how our message resonates with him leading up to his recognition as the Woody Williams Veteran of Honor Award Recipient at the PBR Lewisville event on September 16, benefitting Boot Campaign.
Why did you join the military?
3 reasons: I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself. I wanted to measure myself against these mighty men and women I had read and learned about as a young man who gravitated towards heroic events and people. I never expected myself to exceed them – and without question did not – but I wanted to measure myself using the same metrics of value to others and virtues they did. And I also knew that this American proposition, this experiment we call the United States of America, had never been free of cost and nor would it ever be. I wanted to play my part.
What does patriotism mean to you personally?
Patriotism, to me, is the recognition that we have an obligation far beyond just being compliant, tax-paying, generally rule-following people who live inside the borders of our Nation. Patriotism is more than the minimum. Far more … but not in a singular way. Some of the greatest patriots I’ve ever known have never worn a uniform. They’ve taught in public schools where great kids are navigating tough environments. They’ve coached young men and women and relentlessly been maybe the only voice those kids hear that say “you can.” They’ve founded and led businesses that I’ve watched mirror the “Ship. Shipmate. Self” priorities we were taught in the Navy. Patriotism is both recognition and action. The “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have … and we’ll win” type philosophy coupled with “rising tides raise all boats.”
How does the message YOU MATTER inspire you?
There’s 2 answers to that: the first time I saw it – when I ran into Shelly wearing the shirt – it was a reminder. The timing was poetry. Right in the midst of those moments where you’re wondering if you’re doing anything right, making any kind of difference. It was such profoundly perfect timing.
The second answer? I’m inspired and encouraged by the “You Matter” movement because I know I’m not unique in feeling that way at times. I wish there was a way to tally the times those two words have been said to, or read by, someone who needed to hear it in that exact moment. Strong magic, those two words.
What about Boot Campaign’s mission is important to you?
The thoughtful and strategic efficiency of Boot Campaigns programs. In the universe of Veteran/first-responder charities, Boot Campaign, is a powerful example of putting together a continuum of solutions that produce an enduring effect. Most folks aren’t wrestling with a singular challenge … so they have to cobble together a Frankenstein’s Monster set of resources when and as they can. Boot Campaign is like an outfitter, assembling the necessary components and navigating folks through them in a way that works.