Veterans Day is an important day to reflect and honor those members of the U.S. Armed Forces who have fought for our freedom as a nation. It is also a reminder to support veterans who have returned to civilian life with disproportionate amounts of joblessness, homelessness and PTSD. Operation Coach helps veterans reintegrate into their communities by providing opportunities to coach youth sports. Through coaching, veterans learn to use the values of military service - like leadership, teamwork and discipline - to guide and assist young people in making healthy decisions. Veterans who have completed their service term through Operation Coach have reported that coaching has allowed them to feel more connected with their community and given them a renewed sense of purpose.
Jonathan (story below) is just one of our veteran coaches working to reconnect with his community post-service and to help the kids in his area reach their potential. Our veterans are already heroes for protecting our country, now help give our them the chance to serve as everyday heroes to at-risk youth across the country.
This Veterans Day, give move veterans like Jonathan the opportunity to reconnect to their community through Operation Coach. Learn more about our one-of-a-kind program and how to support it below by visiting www.OperationCoach.org.
OPERATION COACH: Coach Jonathan
My name is Jonathan Martin (far left in photo), I was born in Spain where my father was stationed in the Navy. I moved to California when I was three and lived here ever since. Soccer has always been part of my life, I was always playing for different schools even though I might not have been the best player. Soccer taught me valuable life skills that I used even today such as teamwork, dependability, and just having fun. I joined the Marine Corps in 2007 two years after high school to challenge myself and to start something new. While I was in the Marine Corps, I was on a soccer team that was really good, however I was not extremely talented so I was usually a bench warmer. I decided to make my own team with the other bench warmers from the other teams just so we would be able to play the whole game whether we lost or not. We lost every game that season, however something happened that made me realize it is not all about how skillful the player is. The last game we had of the season was against the number one team in the league. We went in with the mindset that it would be a fun match since the other team was way more skilled than what we thought we were. We ended winning the match by two points and realized that if we actually had potential to become one of the best teams in the league. I pass down this philosophy to my soccer players that I coach in Compton and I make sure they understand that it is a team sport. I create a setting at my center where my players have fun and that are not afraid to ask for help or to make mistakes. They come because they know no one is going to judge them for their skill level and they know they have the support of the team behind them.
Jonathan Martin began his second year of service at the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation through Up2Us Sports' Operation Coach Program in August 2017. His position is generously funded by CaliforniaVolunteers.