Good News Sebastian! Congratulate our very first Resident of the Month! Jimmy was chosen as this months Resident of the Month for founding #DYGAR? (Do You Give A Ruck?), an organization he started a year ago this March. #DYGAR? was started to spread awareness of the struggles of homeless veterans but has evolved to help anyone who is struggling. This group has passion and has raised over $9,400.00 for local vets, 4.5 tons of non perishable foods and hygiene supplies, and 570 toys for Toys For Tots. They will be celebrating their 1 year anniversary on March 25th at BigShots Golf starting at 5:30PM. The event is presented by the Live Like Cole Foundation. More information about them can be found at LiveLikeCole.org
"This group has passion and has raised over $9,400.00 for local vets, 4.5 tons of non perishable foods and hygiene supplies, and 570 toys for Toys For Tots."
#DYGAR? is welcoming to anyone who wants to join them on their next ruck! You may be asking yourself, what is a ruck?! A ruck is a fast paced march over a long distance while carrying weight. It’s a common exercise if you’re in the military. In February, #DYGAR? broke a new personal record by rucking 20 miles from Sebastian City Hall to Vero Beach with 25lb backpacks in one day. Enjoy this interview with our very first Resident of the Month!
Why did you start #DoYouGiveARuck?
Jimmy: “I started #DoYouGiveARuck? because I was a struggling veteran. I was homeless before I came to Florida. My family helped me out and got me into the VA. But, the VA kind of dropped the ball and overmedicated me. I went down a dark road and lost almost everything. A veteran by the name of Doy Demsick reached out to me. He saved my life. I knew I needed a new mission and purpose in life. I wanted to be part of something real. I needed change. I felt the calling to serve again. This time not in the Global War On Terror. But, the battle back at home. I wanted veterans like me to know they weren’t alone. A lot of civilians have PTSD and other issues a lot of veterans have. I wanted to downplay the misconception that all veterans have PTSD and therefore unstable.”
"I felt the calling to serve again. This time not in the Global War On Terror. But, the battle back at home. I wanted veterans like me to know they weren't alone."
“We have a lot in common with every day people and this gives the opportunity to bridge that gap but facilitating a remedial military training exercise. 4 miles or more is a long ways to go with weight on your back. It kind forces you to talk to people around you as well. It gets people out of their comfort zone and makes them feel accomplished at the end. I think that’s what separates us from other veteran organizations here locally. We embrace our civilian brothers and sisters and realize that everyone struggles sometimes. And that’s ok. We are here to pick up the ones who fall through the cracks.”
What are your goals for 2020? And beyond?
Jimmy: “As far as our goals an organization for 2020. We hope to raise more funds for local veterans and become a larger influence in Indian River County with hopes to spread into neighboring counties. We plan on doing so by participating in more community events and 5ks. We hit a milestone today social media wise. Our Facebook business page is almost at 1,800 people today, our social group page is nearing 900, and our Instagram has about 300 or more followers. Like I said before, we haven’t even reached a year old yet and the response that we have received from not only the online community but the local community as well. It’s been a blessing and overwhelming at the support we have received.”
"We hope to raise more funds for local veterans and become a larger influence in Indian River County..."
“As far as the grander scheme of things we hope to be on a national level one day. It’s not about money. It’s about caring for people and veterans who need it right here and right now in our own back yard. Nicer VA medical facilities, monuments, statues, and other things are nice to show appreciation to veterans. But, if you want to really help a struggling vet get them to the VA, if they are homeless get them off the street, if he is struggling financially help them get a job or get the financial relief they need for the future. Our main mission is to focus on helping fund programs like these that are not only making a difference in our community but improving all veterans lives in the future by hopefully replicating our success we have seen here on a grander scale.”
How many people are in your organization?
Jimmy: “Currently we have about 10 active members who are core volunteers. We do have a board of 8 people including 4 officers. We are currently looking for more volunteers of all ages. If we are going to continue our mission and expand we will need more people to be more intimately involved. We support the community and believe we can make a difference not only here but elsewhere. We are a veteran organization so our main focus is improving veterans lives. But, that’s a loose definition. UAP Turkey Trot, Treasure Coast Homeless Service Council, Tunnels To Towers, Toys For Tots, and Relay For Life are some of the organizations we are helping and getting involved with that help not only vets but civilians as well.”
"We are currently looking for more volunteers of all ages."
How can people get involved?
Jimmy: “I think the easiest way to do that is to come out to a practice ruck or visit our booth at a community event. I think engaging us face to face is better than online sometimes. Its more human or personal. We take everyone regardless of your past. I’ve had a Senator, Mayor, police officers, veterans, recovering alcoholics, recovering drug addicts, single moms, single dads, business owners, lawyers, and ex cons all ruck with me. We don’t care about where you came from, what you have, what you don’t have, or anything that has to do with your past, political views or religion. The bottom line is we all have the same mission. To make difference for the better. I follow military and doctrine. Everyone is equal and treated like family. That’s how combat units are. I was Army Infantry and follow that doctrine to a T.”
"We don't care about where you came from, what you have, what you don't have, or anything that has to do with your past, political views or religion. The bottom line is we all have the same mission."
Is there a place people can donate easily?
Jimmy: “We are working with CenterState Bank now to set up a way to receive electronic payments. They have been really supportive of #DYGAR? and helped us get off the ground. The money we receive from donations and sales goes towards our event insurance, printing, event supplies, any fees we have to pay the county or city for, and other important things to have events. We don’t keep any money that we raise at our events. All money we raise out our events goes to programs like “Every Dream Has A Price”, Upward American Veteran, and Veterans Helping Veterans programs. Local businesses donate to the event to let the veteran community know they stand behind us and other veterans causes. I’m humbled how many local businesses has stepped up to not only support us as an organization but local veterans here in Indian River County as well.”
"We don't keep any money that we raise at our events."
If there was one wish you had as an organization, what would it be and how could the community contribute to it?
Jimmy: “I think the biggest wish I want for my organization is to blossom and become a household name. I know our name is edgy and has a double meaning. But, I chose that because I wanted it to grab everyone’s attention. Sure, people laugh when they first see it. But, after they find out what it entails people want to become more involved. I think my dream is for this organization to be a national thing. You help so many people and impact so many lives by doing something other people can agree on. I just want our organization to have a long term impact for good. I am here to lead the charge currently. My dream is for this to be so big I cant lead it alone. We have an opportunity to make real change and a real difference. It all starts with one foot forward and a simple rucksack or backpack. All they have to do is pick up their ruck and follow us.”
"It all starts with one foot forward and a simple rucksack or backpack. All they have to do is pick up their ruck and follow us."
Get Involved! Give a Ruck!
Would you like to get involved with #DoYouGiveARuck? click here to join their Facebook page! They get together often. Make sure you don’t miss their next Ruckus! You can also check out their website https://doyougivearuck.org/ for more information.
Learn More: Brittany’s Story
We were lucky enough to have permission to print Brittany’s story last month. If you enjoyed this interview, you will want to read her experience. Check it out here!
Resident of the Month! How do I nominate someone?
If you know a worthy resident, check out these instructions for nominating them for Resident of the Month!