Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jarrett Edwards and Operation Outdoors USA

This past Thursday I interviewed professional fisherman and veteran supporter Jarrett Edwards.  Jarrett has been fishing the Bassmaster Trail for over nine years and fishes at the NASCAR level of competitive angling.  He is the youngest national TV host of his own highly popular Jarrett Edwards Outdoor TV fishing show.  Jarrett and his wife Rebecca created Operation Outdoors USA to honor and show appreciation to our active duty service people and our veterans.  Their activities directly support the Lone Survivor Foundation, and indirectly support all veterans!

At the age of 25, Jarrett was on top of the world, making a great living in competitive fishing.  He was a newly-wed, having been married to Rebecca seven months when he felt a lump on his neck.  The resulting diagnosis of cancer was dire and Jarrett went through aggressive treatment and was able to defeat the disease.  On June 28, 2005 he had his last treatment and watched the news in shock as the world learned of a SEAL Team lost in action, with one survivor.  He became motivated to do something to make a difference in the lives of the veterans who fought to give him the freedoms to pursue his dream.  Mike Schlitz and I had the opportunity to meet both Rebecca and Jarrett at the Fred Hall Show in Long Beach last March.  I can personally attest that they are great Americans!  They care deeply about our veterans and have dug deep into their own pockets, donating $80,000 to self-fund Operation Outdoors USA.  To date the boat has 3,215 signatures - including mine on the propeller!


Listen to the interview here, and watch for Jarrett - he's on the World Fishing Network and the Sportsman's Channel.  He will continue touring the boat around the US until October 15 when he donates it to the Lone Survivor Foundation's Texas ranch where it will be put to use taking veterans out for the healing experience of fishing.

The Operations Outdoor USA fishing boat, covered with veterans' signatures.

Jarrett Edwards, Ranger Veteran/Actor Tim Abell, Ranger Veteran Mike Schlitz, Rebecca Edwards

Last week the full board of GallantFew, Inc gathered to discuss and plan for the future of the organization.  It was a great event, led by Ms. Candyss Bryant, of Candyss & Associates.  We left energized and motivated, and with clear direction for the organization.

One key aspect we discussed is the need to raise money.  Our advocacy work on the behalf of veterans requires travelling, our communications strategy requires multiple online outlets, and we are producing printed materials to get in the hands of veterans.  Our ability to serve veterans is limited by our operational bandwidth, not by the numbers of veterans out there.  Remember that OIF/OEF veterans face 22% unemployment, homeless rates 3-4 times that of civilians and the VA tells us that 18 veterans commit suicide daily.  GallantFew exists to reduce veteran unemployment and homelessness and eliminate veteran suicide - and the way we do that is by matching the veteran with another veteran in their hometown, who is now successful in his or her post-military career.  Our initial focus is on the US Army Ranger veteran, simply because that is the basis of our founder's personal network.  As we expand in funding and visibility we will actively reach out to more - our dream is to provide a veteran mentor to every honorably discharged veteran of every branch of the US military - and someday perhaps even help our Allies set up a similar program.

We need your help!  We have a goal of raising $111,111 by 11/11/11 and to date we are 10% there.  Your contribution is tax deductible and goes directly to helping more veterans.  You can make a donation online, or for more information please email Karl at or call him at 316-249-0218.

Look for us at the June 11th Hollywood Celebrity Sporting Clays Invitational!  Come out for a fun day of shooting and outdoor activities that will benefit several organizations, including GallantFew!  Thanks to Hollywood actors Patrick Kilpatrick and Tim Abell for including us!




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