Supporting Veterans Programs is Good for Your Store – and Our Vets

Show your appreciation to those who have served and bring in business while doing so.

Supporting Veterans Programs is Good for Your Store – and Our Vets

Photos from Hope for Warriors Facebook

As an outdoor retailer, getting involved in programs to help veterans is a great way to bring business to your store, promote your brand, and more importantly help those who have served.

Your store’s brand image isn’t made the day you open the doors and welcome in your first customers. It’s formed through interactions with those customers over years of business, as well as what you do to help your customers and the local community. The outdoor industry and veterans’ programs have gone hand in hand for years and this relationship is a great way for you to build your brand image, whether you are a new or long-time business owner.

Think of your store’s brand as its personality. If you are well-liked and help those around you, it will reflect in a growing customer base and sales. Building positive community interactions through programs to help those who served is an easy way to thank the veterans and build positive brand for your store.

For many vets, fishing is a recreational tool that helps manage post-traumatic stress from time served. Recently, Rich Belanger’s 27-year career as promotions manager at St. Croix Rods came to an end, opening the door to another opportunity in the industry. He took over as the executive director for Take a Vet Fishing and executive director of fundraising and marketing for the Operation Fishing Freedom Foundation.

“It boils down to helping the individual vets,” Belanger said. “Twenty-two vets commit suicide every day. That tells me the war isn’t over. That’s not acceptable to me, and it shouldn’t be acceptable to anyone else. With that in mind, that’s exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing. To prevent these heroes from going down that path.”

Photo from Operation Fishing Freedom Facebook
Photo from Operation Fishing Freedom Facebook

How To Help

There are several ways that businesses can help veterans. “Currently there are multiple opportunities to support either organization through our websites, and we’re working on additional creative ways that will provide even more options,” Belanger said. “Any donation, regardless of the amount, goes a long way with our mission and goals to help our nation’s heroes.”

Donating is just one of many ways that business owners can help support veterans, and the above-mentioned organizations are only two of countless foundations and associations created to do the same, so find one that aligns with your store’s demographic. 

  • Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing is a nationwide fly-fishing program formed to support disabled active military personnel across the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, in military hospitals and the Warrior Transition Command. They are dedicated to providing physical and emotional support and rehabilitation through fly fishing and associated activities. 
  • Hope For The Warriors Outdoor Adventures Program provides opportunities for wounded heroes who previously enjoyed outdoor recreation and those new to the lifestyle to participate in outdoor sporting activities like hunting and fishing. They also provide support for veterans and their families through scholarship programs and clinical support services.
  • Heroes On The Water was formed with a mission to help veterans relax and reconnect with the outdoors through kayak fishing. This program was designed to create a wellness program for veterans, active-duty personnel, first responders and their families by providing the equipment and help needed to get them on the water and in the outdoors whether paddling a kayak or fishing from the bank.

If you make a donation, be prepared for more requests to flow in from other groups. Once it is known that you are willing to support veterans’ programs, word will travel. With all donations, ask for advertising or a mention of your business on brochures and paperwork that program attendees receive.

There are numerous other associations to support veterans both nationally and locally. If you are interested in supporting active veterans’ groups in your region but not sure which are available, contact your local chamber of commerce, Better Business Bureau, Veterans Administration hospital or veterans’ services office. Not only are these groups and agencies a great source of knowledge on active programs, they are also knowledgeable on groups that may be fraudulent.

Donations are not the only way to help. Product discounts or services such as free reel cleaning, discounted line spooling, or free scope mounting and boresighting can a be a great way to show your support and get veterans and their families through your door. There are also plenty of opportunities to help at veteran-based fishing tournaments through sponsoring raffle prizes or assisting at weigh-in.

No matter what way you decide to support veteran’s programs, it will have a positive impact on your brand and customer flow.


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