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Police Companies Give Back to the Community

Written by Susan Geoghegan

Corporate social responsibility has been a consistent trademark of American business, spanning the full spectrum of industries. Whether encouraging employees to volunteer, donating products and services, or partnering with not-for-profit organizations, corporate America continues to develop unique ways to give back to the community. This article focuses on five law enforcement product companies that have a proven record of caring, evidenced by the development and initiation of programs and services that make a difference.

Under Armour and Wounded Warrior Project

Founded in 1996 by a former University of Maryland football player, Under Armour is a leading manufacturer and distributor of branded performance apparel worn by athletes worldwide. Committed to honoring our nation’s military and public safety officials, Under Armour provides monetary and product donations through its recently launched UA Freedom and its partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP).

Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) provides assistance to injured service members during their transition from active duty to civilian life. Started by a group of veterans who were deeply affected by the difficulties facing wounded soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, WWP offers services that benefit both wounded veterans and their families. Services offered include benefits counseling, peer mentoring, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) seminars, family support and caregiver retreats. WWP’s mission of honoring and empowering wounded warriors is accomplished by raising public awareness and providing services that meet the needs of injured service members.

Working with the U.S. Congress, WWP has helped to push through several key bills that provide benefits and compensation programs for injured veterans and their families, including the WWP Family Caregiver Act of 2009 and the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. The organization also played a key role in the creation and drafting of the Traumatic Injury Protection, an insurance law that pays up to $100,000 to severely wounded service members upon their admission to a stateside military hospital.

Returning veterans receive benefits counseling and are encouraged to connect with their peers for the assistance, friendship and support necessary in transitioning to civilian life. Family support is also provided to family members faced with the challenging roles of caregiver and advocate. PTSD seminars are offered to both able-bodied and disabled service members who are dealing with the effects of combat stress during the transitional period.

WWP offers several retreat opportunities for both wounded military personnel and their family caregivers. Project Odyssey is a five-day, outdoor, rehabilitative retreat that provides recreational experiences, such as rock climbing and cattle herding, to help in the recovery from combat stress. Caregiver Retreats provide family caregivers with much-needed support through a number of activities that include group and individual counseling sessions, rejuvenating spa treatments and outdoor team building. Support is also available on the newly launched WWP Restore Web site, where wounded veterans have access to interactive skill-building and self-assessment exercises. According to WWP Executive Director Steve Nardizzi, Restore provides a confidential environment in which veterans can explore their symptoms and learn about coping mechanisms.

Surefire and HAVA

For more than 30 years, Surefire has provided high-quality illumination tools and tactical products for law enforcement, military and emergency operations professionals. In 2007, Surefire was one of several companies that founded HAVA (Honored American Veterans Afield), a non-profit organization that helps disabled veterans transition back to their lives in the United States.

It began with a small group of industry executives attending a trade show who decided they wanted to become actively involved in honoring veterans. According to Ron Canfield, Surefire’s public relations manager, they felt that the best way to accomplish that—and ensure that all monies go to the veterans—was to form, fund and manage their own organization.

With nine sustaining sponsors and numerous other contributing companies, HAVA’s purpose is to raise awareness and assist disabled veterans to heal through active participation in outdoor sports, such as shooting and hunting. HAVA operates solely through volunteers and will only sanction and sponsor events that are promoted according to the highest ethical, safety and performance standards consistent with its mission.

One of these events is held annually at the National Shooting Complex in San Antonio, Texas, where HAVA hosts a National Family Day. Disabled veterans, as well as active duty military personnel, and their families are invited to take part in a day filled with shooting activities and musical entertainment.

In addition to hosting events, HAVA depends on support from the shooting and outdoor industry for continued growth. In August of 2010, the Warrior Conference held a fund-raiser to support HAVA events and raise awareness with a raffle and a donation of several thousand dollars. The Warrior Conference is a gathering of top firearms trainers (many of whom are combat veterans) who recognize the challenge of transitioning from active duty to civilian life. With a plan to host more than 500 disabled veterans at events nationwide in 2011, venues such as these provide HAVA the opportunity to spread the word about its mission.

Surefire is also a supporter of Adopt-a-Platoon, a volunteer-based organization dedicated to lifting the morale of deployed U.S. Military personnel. All 500 Surefire employees work with the local community to provide support and contribute items to a specific platoon.

Verizon Wireless

As a leader in wireless voice and data services, Verizon Wireless provides reliable connectivity when disaster strikes and threatens public safety. Its crisis management teams coordinate with local authorities to enable rapid information-sharing and decisive response. The company conducts hundreds of emergency exercises each year and has responded to numerous real disasters, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and flooding.

At the onset of the Gulf oil spill disaster that occurred in the spring of 2010, first responders and volunteers arrived on the scene, all requiring access to their wireless devices. To handle this significant increase in wireless usage, Verizon Wireless brought in additional resources to supplement the network for the staging and preparation of possible oil spill landfall. According to spokespersons for the St. Bernard Sheriff’s Office, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy, Verizon Wireless provided cell phones and broadband cards that allowed consistent connectivity throughout the region.

When a wildfire broke out near Ambrose, Calif., in July of 2010, the Verizon Crisis Response Team (VCRT) responded to a request from CAL FIRE for additional cell phones and expanded wireless coverage. A network repeater, 30 emergency wireless phones and 30 mobile broadband devices were dispatched to the area, allowing emergency personnel to send and receive a greater number of data transmissions.

In September, the VCRT once again responded to a request for additional resources to assist emergency personnel battling a new wildfire west of Loveland, Colo. Based in the Flatiron Reservoir area, the fire began on Sunday, Sept. 12, and had consumed more than 700 acres by Monday morning. Fifteen emergency wireless phones and data devices were dispatched, as well as a network repeater that was “on-air” within hours of the request.

In areas susceptible to natural disasters, Verizon Wireless’s network team utilizes a comprehensive emergency response plan to provide reliable connectivity to residents and emergency agencies. With forecasters in Fargo, N.D., predicting record flooding for the spring 2010 season, the company shipped hundreds of phones and 3G USB modems to the area for rapid deployment by emergency responders. Verizon’s network team installed an in-building system for enhanced coverage at a local university, activated an emergency operations center and performed disaster drills.

“The emphasis of Verizon Wireless’s disaster recovery support is providing services to enable customers to have reliable service,” said Melanie Ortel, associate director for public relations at Verizon Wireless. “Verizon Wireless provides customers with a variety of services during natural disasters to help them stay in touch with their families, and the services they need during these challenging situations, including free battery replacements, battery charging and laptops.”

North American Rescue

For more than 10 years, North American Rescue (NAR) has provided innovative casualty care solutions to law enforcement officers, emergency services personnel, security forces and health care professionals. NAR employs former pre-hospital healthcare providers, law enforcement officers and special operation soldiers who draw upon their combined experiences to meet the unique challenges inherent in unpredictable environments.

As part of its Operation Giveback, the North American Rescue Foundation was established to support and promote non-profit organizations that share in its mission. The foundation has donated more than $15 million to various charities, including Operation Comfort, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that provides support for service members who have been wounded in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Operation Comfort coordinates donations of goods, services and money which are used to build and renovate rehabilitative facilities for soldiers being treated in the burn and orthopedic units at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio, Texas. In the spring of 2010, NAR donated $100,000 to Operation Comfort for the renovation of the Marine Corps Annex building, which will serve as a recreation and relaxation area for wounded marines and their families.

NAR recently donated more than $20,000 in Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) Firefighter Survival Equipment to the Boilings Springs, S.C., Fire District. The equipment, which included 75 Firefighter Survival Kits, 75 Bail-Out Kits, 10 Roof Rescue Kits and 18 High Anchor Kits, provides firefighters with the tools necessary to execute a safe and successful rescue.

Situated in the Boiling Springs Fire District, NAR takes pride in supporting local emergency services that play an important role in the safety of the community. NAR President Samuel D. Wyman III stated, “In keeping with the passion of our business, we have a sincere desire to see this donation of firefighter survival gear help increase their survivability in the line of duty so that they can return home safe to their families.”

Tru-Spec / Atlanco

Since 1950, Atlanco has been a leading supplier of personal equipment, material and uniforms to the military, law enforcement and public safety markets. Responding to the need in the marketplace for an innovative manufacturer of military and law enforcement apparel, the company introduced the Tru-Spec brand in 1996. The company regularly donates money and products to benefit community causes and is a frequent sponsor of selected public service events.

In November 2010, Tru-Spec by Atlanco partnered with Feeding the Need Globally, Inc. and held the first annual Warming Homeless Hearts fundraiser. Wool-blend blankets were given to the homeless via a number of ministries and missions located throughout the greater Atlanta and Memphis areas.

Atlanco donated the initial 5,000 blankets to Feeding the Need Globally Inc., which in turn requested donations of $5 per blanket, with net proceeds benefiting COPS (Concerns of Police Survivors) and the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.

Feeding the Need Globally, Inc. was founded in 2008 and earned non-profit 501(c)3 status the following year. This grassroots, volunteer-only organization currently focuses on the physical and mental health of people all over the world and depends upon generous donations to ease the suffering of impoverished families.

“For more than 50 years, Atlanco, Tru-Spec’s parent company, has been a major supplier of apparel and related items to the military, law enforcement and public safety markets,” said Darrell Jacks, vice president of marketing. “That long tenure as a trusted supplier has instilled in us a strong sense of responsibility to the markets we serve and the communities in which we do business.“

Susan Geoghegan is a freelance writer living in Naples, Florida. She can be reached at sgeofl@embarqmail.com.

Published in Law and Order, Jan 2011

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