From the CEO | Spring 2019
Since the first of January we have partnered with 53 new SEALs, bringing the total number to 405 men that this community, this SFF family, has supported since our founding. None of this would be possible without the commitment and service that you have provided and continue to provide. The SFF was built to tackle the unknowns that arise from the SEAL transition experience and we have and will continue to stay flexible to provide resources as various needs arise. Many of the resource gaps required time to manifest and as an organization, we too required time to better understand the issues and address the gaps through resources developed internally or through partnerships with best-of-breed providers. Realizing the battlefield has shifted, we too have decided to shift so that we can broaden our efforts and mission. Our previous mission was to prepare transitioning Navy SEALs for a civilian life of purpose. Over time, we realized that we need to better prepare SEALs around well-being and create strong localized communities to help them thrive in their new roles at work, at home and in society. The new mission of the SFF is to provide Navy SEALs with a foundation that supports their well-being, education and career to continue a life of service within their communities. The three pillars of well-being, education and career, all rooted in service, will provide the veteran with the best resources for success and the ability to continue to serve in his community and with an enduring family of supporters. Along with a new mission, we are pleased to announce that we have officially changed our name to the SEAL Future Foundation to better describe what the SFF represents.
Below are some updates on the three pillars:
Our education pillar continues to prepare SEALs with the academic foundation for success in their new careers, whether it’s a completing a bachelor’s degree while on active duty, a top-tier MBA program, medical school or a professional certification. The SFF provides admission test preparation services, scholarships, academic advisory and assistance with applications. Critical are the relationship we have with leading academic institutions around the country and these relationships are growing rapidly as we expand the presence of our Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) which are at 17 locations, to date. Recall that the FOBs is our name for each local SFF community around the country. We partner with best-in-class academic institutions to receive SEALs when the time is right and most importantly when there is a good fit with the school’s culture and ours. The expansion of our FOBs has connected us with schools in the Northeast, West Coast and now the South with our latest partnership with the Acton Business School in Austin, Texas. Acton was introduced to the SFF by prior SEAL graduates of the MBA program and through our relationship with Acton, we have connected the school with several SEALs who are currently in the program. Known for its strong entrepreneurship focus, Acton generously provides its online entrepreneurship curriculum to our SEALs at no cost. Our partnership with Harvard Business School continues to thrive and since my last note back in December, we have supported the admission of three more SEALs to the prestigious Program for Leadership Development and two more graduated in January.
The career pillar which assists SEALs with discovering their next purpose through coaching and connecting them with mentors and employers, has been strengthened dramatically by the expansion of the FOBs. With old friends and a consistent increase in new friends attending our events, we been blessed by a wealth of new advocates and supporters. Our advocates and supporters have graciously offered personal support by way of mentorship and some have also provided job and internship opportunities at their companies and with their colleagues. Steve Moreno, Member of our Board of Directors, has recently taken on the responsibility of leading all FOBs and creating new opportunities and community across the country for our transitioning SEALs. Alongside career development, Steve is partnering with each local FOB leadership team and the business and philanthropic community to provide options for our SEALs to continue their service in their new hometowns through various opportunities while they start their new, purposeful, careers.
The wellness pillar is our newest offering and one on which we are focusing much of our energy and effort this year as we work to better understand the need and understand the various solutions so that we will provide the best options for the men and their families when they need them. We have met and are continuing to meet with different health and wellness providers and organizations to better understand leading treatment modalities. As we vet and partner with these providers and organization, it is our intent to create a full spectrum wellness offering for the transitioning SEAL (the Warrior Health Program) who will receive the best support that is needed. Not everyone will need all, or any, of the support but as a transition organization we have to know what is out there and need to be prepared to support the individual so that they can be fully optimized for a successful transition.
In my last letter I focused on the importance of working together as a Joint Task Force and partnering with best in class resources to address new threats. We at the SFF believe that the holistic approach is the only way to tackle the multitude of issues that fall under the umbrella of transition and we will continue to partner with those organizations that are like minded and share our approach. To be clear, we are still laser focused on transition but now we are starting to realize what that truly means. Being in the transition business since 2012, we know the in-class transition programs and curriculum-based transition courses are not the end-all solution because they only partially prepare the individual for transition. The needed solution, the only solution, is a customized team approach providing the proper resources where needed in a joint effort over the duration of a veteran’s life. Some SEAL benevolent organizations disagree with our methodology but we at the SFF do not know how to do business any other way. If the mission and the Community comes first, then why are we not all collaborating to provide the best possible outcome to the population we support?
To the men and their families of the SEAL Teams, know that we are working our asses off for you and are standing by for when you transition or when you require any of our services. So, continue mission, fight as long as you can and when the time is right to hang up your plates know we will be here to team up with you to find your next purpose, to ensure that you and your family are thriving and to find your new community after service.
To our community of supporters, our family, thank you for all you have done and will continue to do. We have taken in and supported over 400 SEALs and we are only getting started. Together we will continue to do great things through service and together we are literally saving lives. I will end this letter with a testimonial from a recent Frogman we supported:
“The SFF is a support system. It’s a brotherhood. The team who run the organization care deeply about what they’re doing. The transition from being a Navy SEAL into something completely different is NOT easy. With the proper guidance and support it becomes much more manageable. My personal experience with leaving the SEAL teams after ten years was like a train going off the rails. Having an organization that genuinely cares about the transition in every aspect is profoundly helpful. From health to family to education to building networks and figuring out the next career path – the SFF is by far the best resource that a Team guy can have in his corner.”
God Bless this family and Long Live the Brotherhood!
– Jonathan Dean Wilson
The New Year is off to a strong start for the SFF and our community, programs and services continue the momentum from a record 2018. We begin the year with a presence in 17 cities through our Forward Operating Bases and a plan to host even more events this year than the 27 that we hosted in 2018. In addition, we expect to launch several new FOBs this year throughout the South in states including Texas, Georgia and Tennessee. The communities that we are creating are allowing SEALs and their families to continue to enjoy the camaraderie and support they enjoyed on active duty and our programs and services are enabling SEALs to continue to serve their communities, no matter where they are. With the faithful support of our donors and a grant from our partner the SEAL Family Foundation, in 2018 we were able to increase the amount of scholarships awarded by 40% to just over $200,000 and we hope to award even more scholarship funding in 2019 as we strive to mitigate the high cost of education.
In 2019 the SFF welcomed 154 new SEALs into its community, an 18% increase over the prior year. The SFF does not and has never advertised (or charged for) its services and SEALs learn about us entirely through word of mouth within the SEAL Community. We are proud to serve active duty SEALs in every command and former and retired SEALs, no matter the location. In the nearly 40 months since the SFF established a presence in San Diego, the SFF has served 405 SEALs. So far in 2019, the number of new SEALs served by the SFF is at a pace equal to a rate of approximately 200 per year, just shy of the estimated 250 SEALs that transition per year. We are proud of the impact of our programs and services as we continue to provide hope, opportunity and community for transitioning warriors.
WARRIOR HEALTH PROGRAM
Late last year we announced a new Warrior Health Program (WHP) and since that time is has become increasingly clear that of all our programs, the WHP will have the greatest impact on the Community we serve. The WHP provides critical wellness resources that enable a SEAL to continue to live and serve with purpose. We launched the WHP to meet the need to deliver life changing (and often life saving) treatments for service-connected brain injuries and the SFF has continued to be the trusted advocate to connect humble warriors with the treatment that they are often too proud to seek. While mental health and our partnership with the Brain Treatment Foundation and the Brain Treatment Center continues to be an important pillar of the WHP, for 2019 we have expanded the WHP to include physical healthcare, alternative therapies, spiritual wellness, financial fitness and not least, family support. We recognize that transition from the Teams is experienced by a SEAL and his spouse and often this aspect of transition is ignored. We are currently researching the market for the best-of-breed programs to deliver on all elements of our WHP and expect to announce many exciting and groundbreaking partnerships this year. Stay tuned.
For those who would like to celebrate community with us in person, we are planning an exiting year of events. Please check our event calendar online and we hope to see you soon!