September 8, 2016; Fast Company
Former Marine Cpl. Noah Currier is on a mission to pull his fellow veterans out of dark and difficult places through the work of his company and foundation, both created as a result of experience and a whole lot of passion.
Currier was among the first U.S. soldiers deployed to Afghanistan following 9/11. He later returned to combat in 2003, serving seven months in Iraq. For Currier, it was on American soil where he faced an incredibly dramatic and tortuous turn in his life. Just three days back from duty, Noah was on his way to his military base when a truck driver, asleep at the wheel, struck him. The incident not only took away Noah’s movement from his neck down but took his spirit as well.
As shared on the Paralyzed Veterans of America site, Noah was “in a funk” for six years, and in that dark time he “really didn’t want to talk to another human being.” What finally reached him through the darkness was the voice of a friend, begging him to attend a veterans sporting event. That day would be the first small ripple in what has become a tidal wave.
He says the day he attended his first event changed his life. “I became addicted to sports,” he says. He also quickly learned that not all veterans could afford to attend the events, and he immediately wanted to help remove obstacles to others attending. Reducing that gap led to Currier’s vision to raise funds to assist veterans with the cost of attending sporting events and “to inspire.”
In 2010, he started an apparel company to design and sell U.S.-made, military-themed t-shirts, caps, sweatshirts and gear. He would name the company Oscar Mike, after a command well known to soldiers serving in Iraq. Troops would hear “Oscar Mike” as “get on the move.” The call was like the military version of Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan. For injured veterans who find themselves in darkness, who feel alone, or who are facing self-doubt, the message is a shout-out to brothers and sisters in service.
According to Fast Company,
By the time Oscar Mike was approved as a nonprofit in 2013, the young entrepreneur completed two Kickstarter fundraisers and solidified a strong organic marketing strategy by reaching out to veterans organizations. From there, it split into two divisions: a nonprofit partnering with sporting events to accommodate veterans, and a for-profit selling veterans-inspired gear.
Proceeds from the veteran-owned apparel company benefit the company’s foundation and “100% of any donations to the Oscar Mike Foundation provide financial support to injured Veterans looking for an opportunity to stay active.” Oscar Mike events, which aim to send hundreds of vets to participate in sporting events, create a venue to unite and serve as a team once more.
With so many veteran nonprofits finding their way to national headlines over the last several years due to mismanagement and abuse, it is refreshing to learn of the veteran-run Oscar Mike Foundation and its potential impact. For those in the healthcare, mental health, and veterans’ sectors, this may be an organization to watch.—Michelle Lemming