We have come a long way. Over the past year, we’ve raised awareness and money. We’ve taken care of some veterans, and did a lot to help spread the word about veteran healthcare. Our second year will be pivotal. It’s time we got on the road. On our one-year anniversary, we are announcing StandWatch.org’s 10,000 mile Tour.
Beginning on March 2017, we want to travel 10,000 miles and treat veterans in rural areas and small towns across America. Our Rally Point events will focus exclusively on providing medical services. As much as possible, we will be piggy-backing on other events that appeal to veterans and their families such as bike rallies, farm festivals, county fairs, and maybe even a rodeo or two. At these Rally Points, we are also going to accept applications from veterans who need help in covering their medical expenses. Ideally, as was stated in our original mission statement, we would like to have the resources available to pay the hospital bills of any veteran who has a condition that needs immediate treatment at a local facility.
Our initial focus will be in West Virginia, Ohio, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Southwestern Virginia. Later in the year, there are counties out west where we’d like to provide services, but that is entirely dependent on funding.
The key to year two will be to maximize on the momentum and awareness we created in year-one, and remain focused on the original mission. We have been told that we tell our story very well. If you agree with that, you haven’t seen anything yet. We are thrilled to announce that we’ll be launching original podcasts, videos, and other digital media over the next several months that tell the stories of veterans, exceptional Americans who give back to their communities, and the real lives of everyday people across the country. Our communications goal for 2017 is to reach 100,000 people in Middle America.
When we first launched, we started with nothing more than an idea. From that point, we have created a nationwide network of supporters, held clinics, and conducted many outreach events. We’ve learned a lot. We’ve raised a little over $28,000. Every dime of that has gone to providing services, spreading the word about our mission, and equipment purchases. In order to reach more people, we need to get mobile in a big way. This will require funds, but we are sure that our network can help us connect with enough people who believe in the importance of our cause.
We have believed from day one that a key to building a successful nonprofit is transparency and constant communication with supporters. The web and social media has been critical to our success. Along those lines, we’ve set up a great transparency strategy for our web content. This includes:
- More blog posts and stories – I’ll admit it; I like to write. I love to tell our story and the stories of the people we are trying to help. We got so busy with the mechanics of running a nonprofit, that our blog posts started to become less and less frequent. We relied on Facebook and other social media to help tell the story, but I believe that social media cannot be a substitute for a good story. As such, expect more blog posts about our mission, upcoming events, veterans news, pieces about the areas where we travel, and profiles of the people who inspire us to do good.
- More videos. Our Run for the Wall video was viewed on Facebook more than 22,000 times. It’s a great medium, and we want to leverage the Facebook Live tool more effectively. We will also offer content via our YouTube channel.
- As far as Twitter goes, we are going to double down on our Twitter account as we post more original stories and media. Admittedly, Twitter has been a tough nut for us to crack, but we feel that the more we tell our story on our website, the more our Twitter traffic will pick up.
- In November, we will restart our “I StandWatch” Instagram campaign. This produced some great interaction with people all over the country and we’re looking forward to doing it again.
Our goal is to do at least one clinic in ten states during 2017. Our initial “hot zones” are rural counties in West Virginia, Ohio, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Kentucky. After completing clinics in these states, we are exploring venues out west. There are counties in Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, and Utah that fit our targeted demographic profile, and reaching patients in those states is very high on our priority list. There is a lot that goes into a successful clinic, and during year one we learned that it’s important to go where the veterans are. One advantage of being mobile is that you have the option to go where you want. One responsibility of being mobile is to only go where people need you. We plan on doing both.
Outreach and Community
As we moved throughout 2016, we heard a lot about veteran suicide prevention. We wanted to do something to help in this area, but psychological care is an ongoing process that takes months or years to have an effect. Obviously, providing this type of care doesn’t fit into our mobile patient care model. But after doing extensive research, talking with some veterans, psychological professionals, and current members of the military, we found one area where we can have an impact. We decided to call it the ORP Expedition Series.
While serving in the military, people form some of the deepest relationships they will ever have in their lifetimes. For months or years, they eat, sleep, suffer, sweat, and celebrate with the same group in ways that no one outside the military can understand. In nearly every memoire written by a veteran, the connection between soldiers is said to be as strong, or even stronger than family. The day someone leaves the military, those connections are instantly severed, and veterans are thrown back into a society where bonds like that are nearly impossible to form. This leads people to become isolated, angry, and contemptuous of the things that modern society seems to hold most dear.
The ORP Expeditions are nothing more than physically challenging outdoor events where small groups of veterans can “suffer” alongside civilians and current members of the military in order to start the process of forming relationships that can grow into something that loosely resembles the connections they had with their peers while serving. It is our hope that these events will also foster a better understanding among the civilian participants of the issues and mindsets of veterans and the military.
These are low-cost events, and do not require a great deal of logistical planning. Our intent is to do once at least once a quarter.
Paying for it All
Obviously, we need a lot of financial support to make this happen. We view year-one as a proof of concept year. Year two needs to be about exponential growth and impact. Our goal is to raise $100,000 in year two to cover the cost of operations. The money we raise beyond that amount will go into a fund to pay for medical procedures for veterans and their families.
At some point, we want to hire a full-time medical staff, but that’s just not possible right now.
If you are interested in helping out, but aren’t sure how much you should give, here is a breakdown of what your donation can do:
- $25 – Purchase expendable medical supplies
- $50 – Purchase a tank of gas for our mobile clinics
- $100 – Purchase nonprescription medications for an entire clinic
- $250 – Purchase insurance for a single Rally Point clinic
- $500 – Cover the cost of one vehicle payment
- $1000 – Pay all the supply expenses for an entire clinic
- $2500 – Purchase diagnostic medical equipment
- $5000 – Pay for a veteran’s basic medical procedure
Every corporate sponsor’s logo will be featured throughout our social media channels and on our website. Companies that give more than $5000 will also receive logo placement on the side of our mobile clinic vehicles so everyone knows of their support for StandWatch.org’s mission.
By The Numbers
We believe that it is absolutely critical to be transparent and candid about how we use the money people give to us. As such, every six months, we post our Donations and Impact Report on our website at www.standwatch.org/donations. This page contains everything you need to know about our finances including income, expenditures, and economic impact. We even provide a copy of our check register organized by category and date. Frankly, I don’t know of any other nonprofit that provides level of transparency. We intend to maintain this practice no matter how big we get.
2017 is going to be a fantastic year. We have set the stage to really make a difference in people’s lives. Standby, and keep watching.