TDA Member Gives Back
I really appreciate TDA and what it stands for. It’s not just an organization for deer breeders. It has many initiatives that benefit our communities statewide two of which are its support for local high school ag programs and the support it gives our troops and wounded warriors.
My response to your query is made with hesitation. I learned long ago that self promotion is not a virtue but a human failing. Hopefully, those who take the time read this response will take that to heart and understand that my response is made to promote an initiative that has become a big part of my life. My family’s first opportunity to give back to our servicemen and women involved a Brush to Bay fishing event about 5 years ago. Our lives changed that weekend. We were awed by the young men we met and befriended that weekend. It was a family affair for us since my sons had a bunch of new brothers. My wife, Margo, and I had some new sons. This was not “Hi” and “Bye” for us that weekend. It was “Hello” and where do we go from here.
Our relationship with different organizations has evolved with time. Through my profession of veterinary medicine which I love, I found a niche where I feel I could offer some help to our servicemen and their service dogs. We have become a big part of a fund serviced by the Texas A&M University Foundation called Eli’s Fund. Eli’s Fund was established to serve three categories of our warriors: 1) any retired military service dog, 2) any service dog of our medically retired servicemen or women, or 3) the pet of any active duty serviceman or woman whose pet has extraordinary veterinary medical expenses. Please visit TAMU’s Foundation website to see the story about LCpl Colton Rusk from Orange Grove, Texas and his service dog Eli that inspired this initiative. Just Google “Eli’s Fund” and then go to TAMU Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences website.
The Military Working Dogs (MWD’s) have prevented thousands of deaths to our servicemen and many times more injuries as well. Most of us and our employees have retirement program and medical programs waiting for us when we retire. Our MWD’s have nothing and are just turned out after they have given everything except their life or adopted out often to people who cannot afford to care for them properly. They can suffer from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) just like our servicemen and women. We are trying to help defray those expenses at TAMU through Eli’s Fund.
My son, Roy, who is in his third of veterinary school was approached about seven months ago by one of his teachers who was concerned about an active duty serviceman whose family pet had cancer. The family didn’t have the finances to pay for oncology services required to treat their family pet, and she wondered if I might be willing to help out. This story did have a happy ending, and it inspired me to approach my fellow Development Council members at TAMU to establish a fund not only for current active duty personnel pets but also for our service dogs. On Christmas Day, Eli’s Fund was mentioned on a national news broadcast on Fox and Friends.
I have many friends who have asked what they could do to help so we patterned our initial efforts to raise money through a grassroots movement to collect funds with simple collection boxes in veterinary clinics and other businesses throughout the state. They are plastic boxes with pictures of Colton Rusk and Eli. My inspiration for these boxes came from a friend, Ernie Buttler, who owns Snoopy’s Restaurant in
Corpus Christi. He placed a glass jar at the cash register in his restaurant with pictures of our wounded warrior outings and collected over $50,000 in just two years in cash non tax deductible donations. Wow. This truly is grassroots–isn’t that what the TDA really is all about?
One thing I have learned from many of the young men I know is that they don’t like to feel like they are tax deductions by some ranchers. They feel like they are being taken advantage in some way when they are being used as tax deductions by some of us.
They are warriors, and they love to shoot. Maybe that is why we have connected with many them as have many other TDA members. When they come to visit us, they get up when they want if they want to. They don’t have to perform for us. We don’t dictate an itinerary. We offer fellowship and friendship. I think that is why we weren’t a fit for some organizations and decided to go out on our own. The first thing to check with any organization you consider getting involved with is how much of the money it collects goes to pay full time employees. Warrior Benefit and Impact a Hero are two organizations we really contribute to outside of Eli’s Fund. They are run by the warriors for the warriors. It is important who runs the support groups. How can an organization that is run by people who are not wounded warriors anticipate the needs and desires of those who have left blood and body parts all over this globe defending this country and their buddies? We prefer to be involved with organizations for wounded warriors that are run by wounded warriors for wounded warriors.
There are many great organizations out there doing wonderful work. Nearly all have honorable intentions, but some have members who have agendas of self promotion that do not honor our warriors. You just have to be wary, but don’t be afraid to open up your homes and hearts to those who have given up so much for us. Many of our warriors just need friendship. There was a scene in the ‘Chris Kyle movie’ where some of the wounded warriors asked him why he was helping them when he didn’t have to. I can only answer their question with another question and leave it at that. Where would our country be without those selfless men and women who have given up so much for our country?
Mike Moore DVM