By Ken Porter, Navy veteran 3rd Class Petty Officer
Anchors Aweigh is a Navy march song and also a term Navy men and women use affectionately, to bid farewell. The raising of an anchor is symbolic of the end of a tenure, whether that be the end of a weekend port call, or in this case, the end of my naval career. It did not always feel like it, but my eight years in the Navy were rewarding.
The Chairslayer Foundation is not strictly a veterans’ charity, but I’m going to explain why it was the most appropriate way to pay forward the opportunity my Navy career has allowed me.
When people think about veterans they often think about Vietnam era service members and the generation that followed them. Rarely does anyone ever talk about our country’s newly minted veterans, millennials, men and women ages 25 to 39 who have exited the military and need support. This is a nearly invisible portion of our population and we need not only to start supporting them, but ought to also begin asking how they would like to be supported.
The landscape of veterans’ support charities and organizations is vast but mostly geared toward the baby boomer generation of veterans, and older. That’s because they are the demographic that is active in the veteran community. If you have ever been in an American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars facility (VFW) you will immediately notice that there are no young veterans in these groups.
While the American Legion is an incredible organization, millennial veterans need their own organization where they can engage with their community, connect with other veterans, and most importantly, receive support.
That is why I chose the Chairslayer Foundation for my end-of- career fundraiser. The Chairslayer Foundation takes individuals who were injured and who have to use a wheel chair, and puts them behind the wheel of a hand-controlled car so they can learn to drive again and regain that form of independence.
That’s not all, after participants learn how to drive they then put them behind the wheel of a hand-controlled race car to introduce them to motorsport as a new activity they can do despite being in a wheelchair.
The Chairslayer Foundation’s mission is not veteran driven, but it is a great fit for injured millennial veterans who want to regain their independence while being part of a larger community of veterans having fun.
If you go to any military base you will see an abundance of modified import cars. Instead of expecting these veterans to seek out help with organizations that do not cater to their needs and interests, we should create opportunities for them to connect with others at organizations that do meet their needs.
We should be equipping organizations like the Chairslayer Foundation to expand their mission with veterans in mind.
Until then, if you know an injured veteran interested in getting behind the wheel of a hand-controlled race car, share this opportunity with them. You can connect through facebook messenger at facebook.com/ americasheroesgroup/.
Join Cliff Kelley and Ken Porter on America’s Heroes Group Radio Talk Show “We Serve the World: Millennial Veterans in Action” on Saturday, September 21.