Serving the Selfless in Vero Beach

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Marine Corps veteran Jason Reed is familiar with the struggles that can color the lives of military veterans. When Reed, operations manager at Control Tech USA, approached his company about opportunities to help families in hardship for the holidays, he found a cause that resonated with him and his experiences.

Robert and Randi Short served their country through multiple deployments in the U.S. Army, both sustaining life-changing traumatic brain injuries. With the help of nonprofit veteran outreach organization Do You Give a Ruck, community members in Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach, Florida were able to bring some special light to the holidays for the couple and their three children.

Finding the opportunity

Do You Give a Ruck is a nonprofit created for the purpose of veterans serving veterans. Reed and his coworker Janna Williams connected with the organization to find opportunities to step in, and that’s when they learned about the Short family.

Robert and Randi Short, both disabled Army veterans, are raising three children amidst unique challenges.

“Janna and I decided this was a cause we wanted to rally for, so we started calling around to some connections we have. And the electrical community — contractors and vendors — were the biggest donors to the cause,” recalled Reed.

Bringing in City Electric Supply

Among the connections Reed called on was a well-established one with the City Electric Supply (CES) location in Vero Beach.

“We’ve been a customer of CES for around 15 years, but as of the past three years we pretty much shop there exclusively,” said Reed. “There’s a lot that goes into that decision, but relationships are a big part of it.”

After hearing about the effort that Reed was leading, Branch Manager Vance Hadley was more than willing to help out.

“We jumped right on it because we thought it was a great cause. It means so much to support those who have sacrificed for us,” said Hadley.

With the help of Control Tech USA, CES, and many more contributors, Reed and Williams raised almost $3,500 in just two and a half weeks. A check for $1,500 was given to the Short family and the remaining amount was donated to Do You Give a Ruck, which in turn helped three more families for the holidays.

Presenting the check

“Janna, her husband, my wife, and I came in on a Friday evening and stayed until midnight getting everything ready for the event,” Reed recounted. “We cleaned out the warehouse, got decorations, and shopped for the kids.”

The day of the check presentation came with lots of energy and participation in an event at the Control Tech USA warehouse.

“We invited everyone who contributed to come an hour before the event started and celebrate the success. When the Shorts got there, we shared a meal and everyone got to talk to them,” said Reed.

According to both Reed and Hadley, the best part of the event was watching the kids open their gifts. For Reed, that moment held a certain familiarity.

“My wife and I have been married 32 years. We have five children and I remember when things weren’t so easy for us. I never want a family to be without joy during the holidays, so seeing the Short kids’ excitement was just incredible,” said Reed. After a full day of community, celebration, and support, the Short family went home with a promise of help whenever they needed it. And for Reed, it was just the start of a relationship with Do You Give a Ruck.

Every little bit

“We’ve become very involved with Do You Give a Ruck,” said Reed. “We do weekly Ruck marches and we’re running our first drive of the year in March. Recently I helped with their conversion of a shed for a disabled veteran so that his mother could move in to help care for him while still having her own private space.”

When asked what advice they have for others looking to help, Hadley and Reed had very similar sentiments: go find an organization that means something to you, and just reach out.

“Whatever cause you care about, find out if there’s something you can do. Every little bit helps, even just donating one backpack for school. It all adds up,” said Hadley.

As for the holidays, they plan to continue to help veteran families in need by doing a similar event next year — and, with more time to plan and rally the troops, maybe even bigger than this past one.

“We’d definitely do it again. And if we can do more, we absolutely will,” said Hadley.

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