What a strange and complicated Super Bowl Sunday. Strange because, if the San Francisco Forty-Niners had managed to pull out a victory on that final drive, we would be plagued forever with power grid failure conspiracy theories.
Complicated because it was a day a lot of us spent thinking about retired Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. As author of the acclaimed bestseller American Sniper and star of NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes reality show, he was in many ways our highest-profile Special Operations veteran. News that he was killed while trying to help a fellow vet deal with a difficult transition back to civilian life. Kyle and Chad Littlefield’s deaths are a sobering reminder how tough that transition is for many men and women and how limited the support resources can be for struggling vets and the people trying to help them.
Enter Jeep’s Operation S.A.F.E. Return. The carmaker bought 2 minutes worth of incredibly expensive commercial airtime (and enlisted Oprah) to promote their charity initiative to help men and women return to civilian life after they complete their service. The acronym spells out the charity’s objectives:
- Secure Transport: Jeep is providing vehicles at USO centers for the transport of troops and supplies as needed.
- Aid for Transition: Jeep has started a veteran employment initiative and will offer a military incentive for purchase of a Jeep vehicle.
- Freedom Adventures: Jeep is sponsoring homecoming celebrations and other activities for returning troops.
- Enduring Care: Jeep is supporting USO efforts to assist wounded, ill and injured troops and their families and caregivers.
Aside from the “F” in acronym being kind of an awkward fit, everything else about this effort is awesome. The S.A.F.E. Return website has links to the USO and ideas about how you can participate. If you’re not into this particular effort, find a different program that works for you. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be winding down, but, for some troops, the need for transition and support services will continue for the years to come. Chris Kyle gave his life trying to address the problem. Here’s to the rest of us stepping up to fill the void.