Warrior Battalion Teams with Louisville-Based BrightSpring Health Services
Two Louisville-native organizations, Warrior Battalion and BrightSpring Health Services, are teaming up for the second time in two years to advocate for military service members across the country. On July 25, 2023, BrightSpring President and CEO, Jon Rousseau announced that BrightSpring has adopted the goal of hiring 5,000 veterans by 2025.
“We are proud to continue partnering with an organization that takes such a serious approach to advocating for all those who have served,” said J.C. Cheshire, President of Warrior Battalion. “They offer great jobs, with good benefits, and as much purpose as anyone could ask for. They are a company whose mission aligns with helping everyone, to include the often overlooked within our elderly population and those with intellectual disabilities. A career with BrightSpring can fill the void that many veterans feel after leaving the service. It’s a service-driven career with purpose, much like serving in the military.”
Warrior Battalion was founded by Louisville native Troy Yocum, an Iraq War Veteran, who in 2009 planned and executed a walk across America to raise awareness of veteran suicide, which at the time was a staggering 19 a day. Troy walked from Louisville, zig zagging across the upper portion of the country until he made his way to San Diego, then headed back towards to opposite coast through southern states, until he headed north to New York, then back to Louisville. In all, Troy walked over 7,000 miles, visited 37 major U.S. cities, and met countless thousands of citizens across the U.S. all of whom he discussed the veteran suicide epidemic with. Troy’s tenacious advocacy for both raising awareness and creating a non-profit that provides tangible services to veterans and their families has translated to wellness, support, and life-saving resources. Troy unfortunately lost his life in January of 2022, after a tough battle with COVID-19.
“Troy is definitely missed, but those of us at Warrior Battalion continue to honor his legacy with strength and resilience through relationships like the one we’ve formed with BrightSpring,” said Josh Daugherty, Executive Director of Warrior Battalion, “The donations yielded from last year’s campaign accounted for more than half of our yearly donation total and ensured that Warrior Battalion could uphold its commitment to serving veterans and their families.”
Since last year’s campaign ended, Warrior Battalion has assisted five families with donations of $1,000 each to help with bills and hardships, provided necessary medical equipment and a prosthetic to a veteran, provided a full apartment full of lightly used furniture to a BrightSpring client who was the child of a military veteran, hosted multiple awareness-raising events, and assisted in a scholarship presentation of a full scholarship to a son of an Iraq veteran.
“Last year’s Veteran’s Day event with BrightSpring was one of the highlights of my year,” Cheshire said. “BrightSpring Executive Director, Amy Kelley, and some of her management helped ensure that local clients in her residential living program and our veteran population were able to mix, mingle, and enjoy bread breaking traditions together, all while enjoying live music and tons of fun-filled events. This year, like last, Kelley has made the commitment to purchase the first 100 t-shirts which really sets the tone for this year’s campaign to be even more successful than last year.”
This year’s shirt design was created out of an idea one of Kelley’s team members had after purchasing a shirt. She suggested a theme like others she had seen. The shirt design was developed by Marcus Cooley, a graphic design professional with Congenital Muscular Dystrophy and son of Army/Navy veteran and Warrior Battalion board member, Rob Cooley. Marcus sprung to action and came up with the acronym Onward Advocacy Till They’re Home or OAT²H On the front of the shirt is the acronym and it’s complemented with the oath on the back of the shirt: I will support and defend those who support and defend us all, always! The design is available in a variety of color patterns, and on multiple shirt designs, both long and short sleeved. Each shirt sale has a baked-in donation which varies with the shirt design or shirt style choice. The donations support a myriad of programs, resources, and the veteran population of both Warrior Battalion and BrightSpring are devoted to serve and support.
This year, Warrior Battalion is contracting the service of shipping all purchased shirts across the United States through a local Adult Day Training (ADT) center called Harbor House, which has a mail and fulfillment division operated by motivated employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Jamie Klein, Harbor House Mail and Fulfillment Manager, said, “This is a great employment opportunity for our participants, they’re extremely pumped up about helping our veterans. They love when jobs come in that involve more than inserting letters and sealing envelopes, and each one of them are excited to know this job is going help raise awareness and support programs that honor service members that have selflessly served and sacrificed for the freedoms we all enjoy.”
Article by Rob Cooley, Warrior Battalion Board Member.