Recently, I received an invitation from a military-support organization to spend the day with the troops. As a member of the Navy League in the US, and the Royal British Legion Scotland and Royal British Legion in the United Kingdom, I never pass up those opportunities.
The invitation came from Operation Homefront Missouri, an organization whose entire purpose is supporting military families and getting them the things they need and the support they find essential. It’s an organization Monsanto supports, and that is supported by many other companies and individuals in the area.
So, with limited knowledge and unclear expectations, I drove down to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to spend the day with the US Army’s 94th Engineering Battalion and the people who work for and support Operation Homefront.
What a day!
First, the cool factor. Simulated convoy driving, touring Blackhawk facilities with full access to the helos, and spending some time on the firing range was an incredibly fun time and a great exposure to the high quality training the military puts their soldiers through. And to spend a day in the company of men and women who put their lives on the line for us is always humbling and inspiring.
But that wasn’t what I walked away with.
What I walked away with was the stories. Service member after service members told me stories about the impact of Operation Homefront. The truckloads of diapers, the food pantries, the backpacks, the toys. the computers, the care packages, the furniture and on and on. Combine these personal stories with the understanding that E-1 to E-3 (the lowest enlisted ranks) personnel who are married with one kid qualify for food stamps, and the huge impact of these donated items comes into stark reality.
These are heroes. These are men and women who volunteer to put their life on the line for us. And they don’t get paid a lot to do it. And the support they receive from Operation Homefront—where more than 99 percent of every donation goes directly to the troops–makes a big difference in their lives and in their families’ lives.
It was an honor to be a part of the day and to represent Monsanto. And it was humbling to thank each service member for their service, only to have them turn around and thank us for our support of them.