By Jason Graven
As this mission continues, a growing number of people are asking, “what the f*ck is Task Force 20?” Truth be told, I couldn’t be happier. The more we get asked, the more it means that people are beginning to pay attention. It means the impact is being felt, but most importantly, it means we are making a difference.
I set out on this venture for a few reasons. One, I grew tired of watching organizations exploit the issue. In this organization’s infancy, when I was still pondering whether or not to take the jump in its creation, someone told me that the name Task Force 20 would be a mistake. They said it would be a mistake because as a veteran’s organization, it would not succeed without including the number “22” because that number had become synonymous with veteran’s organizations, and we would want people to be able to associate that with our mission.
That is exactly why we are Task Force 20 and NOT Task Force 22. Organization after organization has included “22” in their name for that very reason. No offense to any of them, but many are doing nothing more than exploiting the problem. It is as if they feel raising awareness is enough! To equate, imagine someone coming to you to tell you a house is on fire. They then ask you for money so that they can go tell someone else the house is on fire. All the while, they could have stopped and gotten the nearest hose and put the fire out before anyone needed to be told. In many ways, that is an accurate representation of the veteran organization climate. And it is extremely unfortunate. Some may have genuine missions, but we caution those who wish to donate to organizations whose mission is “raising awareness.” If they aren’t telling you they have a solution, then they are only complaining about the problem.
Second, physical fitness saved my life. All throughout my service, leadership always said the best solution to home sickness, depression, and loneliness was exercise. I can only speak from my own point of view, but when times were at their worst, these were exactly the emotions I was feeling. I had become a master of hiding it, however. Few people knew I was driving home from work and wasting my life. I had no drive and no motivation. My last ditch effort was to finally listen to what I had always known to be true, it was time to go to the gym.
Saying that will automatically lead people to believe that we are an organization solely focused on gym memberships. This is patently untrue. We understand that what may work for one person, will certainly not be the solution for another. While we try to associate like-minded individuals together, this organization is not limited to one kind of fitness, or one kind of activity. Anything that provides self-empowerment, self-improvement, and self-confidence is Task Force 20 approved. And each chapter can have members that focus on different disciplines.
So how does TF20 work? What makes this organization different from the countless amounts of others? First and foremost, we are not an organization looking to just receive/give away free stuff. Our chapters work together on fundraisers year round. These fundraisers fund their “fitness savings accounts.” These accounts provide a pool of money designated to reimburse the costs of fitness so that our veterans can participate without the burden of expense. Many of our most affected veterans are now unable to work, due to either seen or unseen injuries, and are on fixed incomes. Most times, physical fitness and social activities get pushed to the side. Our model allows the veteran to maintain a sense of dignity because they are working to earn the benefits they receive. We aren’t just looking for handouts. When our accounts are loaded we are working to fill the others in our team. We, as a group, are looking out for each other, not just looking for a handout. Another unique aspect is that the headquarters does not take a dime of the money earned by chapters. That money is reserved solely for them with the headquarters earning money through apparel sales, partnerships, and other means. If a chapter’s members put in the work, that chapter’s members benefit.
Finally, we believe in the mission. By building these Task Force chapters across the country, we can provide an avenue of inclusiveness for all veterans to come together in a POSITIVE manner, in any discipline and any hobby. We believe in the mission because we know the mission works, because it has already worked, on us.
If you are interested in joining or creating a chapter in your town, please, contact us. Chapters will be popping up and we do not intend to leave anyone behind who wants to come along. This is a mission that cannot be solved alone. As our motto implies, we train together, we compete together, so we will survive together.
If you are interested in making a difference, instead of making a dollar, and want to find out more how a Task Force 20 chapter can positively affect your city, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org now.