This is the start of a new year. I am excited and energized about the prospects and what it may bring, but I am also conflicted and worried. Over the past three years, we have supported almost 1,500 families with over $3.5 million dollars in support. We have opened a new office and we are seeing demand for our services soar. This growth and expansion is a result of our programs touching lives. Those lives each have a name and a story. Each one is a person that has dreams, desires, and goals. Each one is the most important person in the world….One fact stands above everything: PEOPLE are vital to TFD.
SOF TRUTHS – 1: “Humans are more important than hardware. People – not equipment – make the critical difference. The right people, highly trained and working as a team, will accomplish the mission with the equipment available. On the other hand, the best equipment in the world cannot compensate for a lack of the right people.” (SOF Truths)
At the heart of the Task Force Dagger FDN are the PEOPLE: they are our family. Our family is comprised of the families we support, staff, volunteers, and donors. Working together and synchronized, we can impact the special operations community.
As the new year started, I was thinking about all of the above and a lot of recent activity that we are involved with supporting and I was unable to stop thinking about the tasks at hand. For several nights, I have not been able to sleep because I just couldn’t turn it off…. One morning, I was searching for the quote, “what keeps you up at night?” and where it originated. During my search, I came across the song by Lee Brice – What Keeps You up at Night? The song really nails it. His first chorus asks the questions:
What keeps you up at night?
What makes your heartbeat wild?
What weighs on your mind, leaves you paralyzed?
What keeps you up at night?
The second chorus asks:
What makes you take a stand?
Want to get up and dance?
What makes you laugh, you cry?
Raise your hands to the sky?
What keeps you up?
What keeps you up?
What keeps you up at night?
Both choruses speak to me in so many ways and so many levels. I could write a twenty page critical paper on those words, but rest easy….I won’t. I do want to get to the meat of what they do say to me. The first chorus speaks of the anxiety and fear that we face in searching for the answer. The second chorus includes the following action words: “What makes you take a stand – dance – cry – Raise your hands up to the sky? To me, this denotes ACTION. There is ACTION required on our part: we have to be willing to ACT: STAND for something and DO something – be an agent for change!
What keeps me up at night?
There are so many needs and so many challenges that our SOF families face:
1. What are the problems our families and force face?
2. What will they become?
3. How do we address them?
4. Will we have enough funds to cover the needs?
5. How do we expand our fundraising?
6. How do we expand our fundraising without incurring costs that impact overhead and programs?
7. How do we improve how we quantify our response to ensure that we are really solving the
problems and not just putting a Band-Aid on an arterial bleed?
8. How can we support and operate more efficiently!
I spend many nights thinking about these questions and the many rabbit holes they take me down. I use my special forces training to figure out the best ways to solve them. I was taught first by my Dad and then by my team sergeant that if you are going to identify a need, then come up with a possible solution and don’t just ask a question. In other words, give it some thought when you identify a need and be part of the solution. In the Army we called it a possible Course of Action (COA). You may not have the right answer, but at least you gave it some thought and have a solution or potential COA when you bring the issue up. Once I have given it as much thought as I can, then to the team it goes. We have a great team of board members and volunteers that truly care and are passionate about what our team does.
For Task Force Dagger Special Operations Foundation, how do we answer these questions is a multi-faceted approach. With regard to addressing needs and ensuring that we are on course and on azimuth, we work with the SOCOM Warrior Care Program and the various Commands. We are constantly querying them on the emerging needs and trends. When we discover a need, we then develop various COAs and then we choose the best COA and attack the need and supply the right solution. The next topic is always the hardest: fundraising.
Fundraising….the bane to our existence. I wish that there was a money tree species that was issued to a nonprofit when we are sent out IRS Determination Letter. I would plant hundreds of them and use that to solve the problems our families face. Sadly, that money tree does not exist, so we have to resort to traditional means. This requires our team to ACT.
What demands action?
The art of ACT is so much more difficult than identifying the challenge and coming up with a viable course of action. It is the successful implementation of that course of action that is vital. So how do we do we ACT? How do we address the fundraising challenges that we, and every charity, face? We have established plans of actions where we address these challenges: we have our business plan and we have our fundraising strategy and we are aggressively executing them, BUT we are not keeping up. WE need help…that begs the question: “How can I help?” There are three ways:
1. Contribute. One time or monthly. Your donation can be a one-time donation or it can be a monthly donation. Whatever the amount, it adds up and every penny truly counts. We are also adding matching gift options on our donation page within a few weeks. Another way support is to contact the company where you work and nominate TFD as a charity to support. This is truly a team effort and we need your help.
2. Help spread the word. You can help raise funds by raising awareness of what we do. There is no better advertising than word of mouth recommendations. Help us get the word out. Both of these solutions require action on the part of all of us. Getting the word out includes talking with people and social media. Social media has become an animal that needs to be fed every day and it is very important. A good, vibrant and captivating social media presence will attract new people every day.
What this means to me, and I hope to you as well, is that we are all part of the solution. One fact that I have discovered or stumbled upon and put into words several years ago in another blog is that everyone needs a mission – purpose – focus. What does this mean to you? What does it mean to me? Read on…
Everyone needs a MISSION in life. On active duty, SOF personnel have a mission that is second to none. It is critical and every decision can impact our country. When we retire, many lose that sense of mission. Everyone needs to find their MISSION in life and DO IT.
But how does this affect the foundation? In support of the foundation, how can I make an impact? What can I do to help grow the foundation? These are questions that we hope you are asking.
Having a mission gives our lives PURPOSE. We find a sense of accomplishment and fulfilment from our sense of purpose.
Having a real mission and purpose for our lives enables us to FOCUS on what is important. It drives us to accomplish great tasks and leave a mark and a legacy.
I close with these words and the link to Lee Brice’s song – What Keeps You up at Night?.
We here at TFD are doing our best….please join the team and help us grow to meet the emerging needs. The people we support are our team mates and families. If we aren’t there to help them….who will be?…
Lee Bryce – What Keeps You Up At Night – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8Z66SNBxC8
SOF Truths. http://www.socom.mil/about/sof-truths. Accessed 2 January 2018.