The stars aligned when our team first came into contact with Kelsi Sheren, Canadian veteran and founder of the jewelry company Brass & Unity. As someone who is both deeply passionate for those who serve and aware of the invisible wounds many service members face, we connected instantly on our collective missions, our individualized programs and her purpose – knowing something good was about to happen.
When we shared with her our YOU MATTER efforts to combat suicide, Kelsi was all in to help us spread the message through her custom jewelry – specifically her extremely popular Buddy Check bracelets. We are so grateful for this new, meaningful addition to our retail collection of YOU MATTER gear as it brings the opportunity for veterans and civilians alike to extend a constant message of support to friends or family members who may be struggling and need a daily reminder that they matter and there are people who care for them and want to check in.
Our team has become so inspired and encouraged by Kelsi’s drive to make a difference, which is why we wanted to share more of her story, her mission and her products.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Kelsi Sheren, I’m the Founder and CEO of Brass & Unity, host of The Brass & Unity Podcast. Brass & Unity was started in 2016 as a way to help fellow soldiers. After serving in Afghanistan as an Artillery Gunner at 19 years old and losing friends during battle, I came home with PTSD. After 7 years of anger and pain I decided to use my struggle for good, and try to help others through their struggle. To accomplish this, Brass & Unity donates 20% of net profits to help rehabilitate soldiers & First Responders.
What does the message of “YOU MATTER” mean to you?
The message “YOU MATTER” means everything; those two words encompass what it means to be human in this world. When life gets hard we can easily forget how much each person’s presence matters. Reminding people each day that they matter can save a life. Sometimes we are so far down in the darkness that we can’t see the light. But when someone reaches down, grabs your hand and says YOU MATTER, that could be the life line they needed.
Why is it important to you to combat the mental health stigma, especially amongst those who served?
It’s incredibly important to combat the mental health stigma because we have people taking their lives instead of asking for help. People have been made to believe that if they ask for help, that then means they are weak. We have human beings leaving this world and their last thoughts were that they didn’t matter enough to be here. That breaks my heart, truly.
People who are going through something difficult should never have to go it alone, they should feel like they can ask for help and that it’s not a weakness, but rather a strength. It’s time we stop the old way of thinking and start educating our service members that it makes them a better leader to ask people how they are doing, rather than watching them fall through the cracks.
How do you make an effort to say or show “YOU MATTER”?
I tell people everyday; I check on my people. I do buddy checks daily; I save space for people in my life because I want them to always feel like they can turn to someone. I never want people to feel alone again; I want them to always know: YOU MATTER.
What do you want fellow veterans to hear every day, but especially during Suicide Prevention Month in September?
The wars that past can leave scars for life, but your life is worth living. Your sacrifice will never go overlooked, the space you would leave can never be filled, and YOU MATTER today and everyday.
Tell us about the Buddy Check bracelet. What was the inspiration and mission behind it?
The bracelet is small, simple and unassuming but has a massive impact. This bracelet was one of the first Brass & Unity ever came out with, it was one I knew could have an impact but wasn’t sure how to do that. One day I gave the buddy check bracelet to someone in our community. They came to me and said, “hey, so things got dark, fast the other night. I reached for my gun and saw the bracelet on my right arm. It made me pause…“
That to me was it… that’s all that I needed. I knew these could work, this would give someone a moment to pause. Enough pause to stop and allow someone’s brain to catch up with their actions. That was when I decided the Buddy Check would come in packs of 2, so that someone could pass one along and tell their buddy that they had their back, even when they weren’t there. Even at 3 AM in the morning, you could call them. The Buddy Check Pack is something I’m deeply proud of, and hope it can allow people to feel a part of something bigger and see how much they matter.
To check out the YOU MATTER Buddy Check Bracelet by Brass & Unity, click here.