Edwin S. Vasco GonzálezProgram Manager, Operation Coach United States Marine Corps - In the summer of 2014, Up2Us launched Operation Coach, an innovative program that provides returning, post-9/11 veterans the opportunity to not only gain employment as coach-mentors, but to continue to serve as every day heroes to thousands of youth in Miami-Dade County. The eight men and women who made up the inaugural Operation Coach class just completed their coaching term and I’d like to thank each and every one of them for their extraordinary service. These men and women were selected out of over one hundred applicants because they showed the motivation to better the lives of others and the determination to make a positive impact in their communities. We asked these eight Veterans to “serve” once again. Only this time, we asked them to step out of their comfort zone—this time they would be serving youth in some of the poorest neighborhoods in America, using the power of sports and coaching.
From the first day of training, the coaches showed constant progress. Alvaro, Jay, Kleiton, Michael, Miguel, Randy, Roya, and Tanya grew exponentially over the course of their coaching term; not only as coaches, but also as valuable members of their communities. It was really rewarding to see them realize the power they had to create a positive impact on their communities—they came together as a unit and showed themselves to be what I already knew they were--the cream of the crop.
I am extremely proud of the difference they have made. Not only in the lives of the children they worked with, but also the communities they served . They made people take notice, demonstrating that veterans are not the PTSD crew, but talented and caring professionals willing and able to effect positive change. The Operation Coach team showed that we veterans are committed, that we are fighters, and that any task we set out to do will be completed at the highest level—because at the end of the day, nothing but our best effort is acceptable.
I could write a thousand words thanking each coach and describing how special every single one of them is, but I will keep it short.
Alvaro: You were profoundly involved in the lives of your fighters.
Jay: You showed a great ability to connect with your youth and prepare them for real-life situations, which immediately affected your kids because they are already young adults facing tough situations.
Kleiton: Happiness, happiness, happiness. You put smiles on kids’ faces everyday just by being there.
Michael: Your powerful relationships caused a positive turnaround in your community and your kids.
Miguel: Every day, you were doing something in your community to affect people in a positive way.
Randy: You helped a young Marine-to-be find himself as a good young man.
Roya: You were adaptable. You learned on the fly and your organization loved you for it.
Tanya: You had a powerful desire to show your girls a better path.
I hope you all know how much I care for each and every one of you. I am honored to consider you my friends, and I hope you know that no matter what, you will always have me here to help you in whatever way I can.
Operation Coach Alpha Class, I, and everyone on the Up2Us team, commend you for a job well done.
On behalf of Operation Coach Alpha Class I would like to finish by saying “Mission Accomplished. Awaiting further orders”