Story By: Kellie Gunderman, MSEJ Assistant Editor
During the holiday season we all seek out inspiration. As members of the military community, we not only spend this time of year shopping, decorating and baking but also celebrating life. One way of doing this is by giving back through charities that speak to our souls while supporting organizations that spend their time and funds, year round, providing our loved ones with the support they need. As our military men and women sacrifice their minds and bodies to defend this great nation, there are many programs that stand ready and willing to provide assistance. One of those programs belongs to a brand that has a deep rooted history with our country’s military. It was the vehicle that took them into battle and is now the vehicle that brings them home safely: JEEP.
The JEEP brand, owned by Chrysler Group, LLC, has done many things in its history of over seventy years, in celebration of the military community. This has included, but is not limited to, vehicle incentives, trainings programs and employment initiatives. However, the Operation Safe Return (OSR) program, which partners with the USO, brings all of these wonderful ideas to life through one simple, yet crucial, word: S.A.F.E.
JEEP donates vehicles to the USO to provide transport for troops and supplies. The vehicle that was so well known for taking soldiers into the thick of the fight during WWII, has now become a symbol of hope as they deliver traveling soldiers right to their front door. These vehicles are also used to bring supplies, and groceries, to USO centers around the world. The centers provide military members and their families with a bite to eat and a pillow to lay their heads during nationwide, and sometimes worldwide, journeys. In this year alone, eleven vehicles have been donated for this purpose.
Aid for Transition
JEEP works with the USO to assist in the veteran reintegration process through an employment initiative that guides veterans through career opportunities with Chrysler Group, LLC. They have even set up a toll free hotline that connects veterans directly with a specialist who can help match their military skills with available positions. (1-855-HIRE-OSR) The Aid for Transition component of the program also provides for a vehicle incentive to assist in the purchase of a JEEP vehicle.
Kim Adams House, Head of Advertising for the JEEP brand, , tells us that the Freedom Adventure element of the program is JEEP’s opportunity to speak from a brand voice. “We wanted to offer an opportunity for troops to take a fun filled hiatus to escape a bit from their rigorous military service and enjoy themselves.” In addition to the type of adventure that can be found by strapping a kayak to the roof ofa JEEP Patriot Freedom Edition or “off-roading” through rough, muddy terrain in a JEEP Wrangler Unlimited, this program provides opportunities that would otherwise never be experienced. For example, Operation S.A.F.E. Return brought 7 military members from across the country to join JEEP and the USO in New Orleans to have a once in a lifetime experience at last year’s Super Bowl.
When discussing this event, and the JEEP Super Bowl commercial that captured the true beauty and spirit of the American military family, Kim told us, “We felt it was fitting that JEEP be the brand to celebrate our military. We take great pride and joy in the effort. Our Super Bowl spot was an open letter from JEEP to the American people to our service men and women. It was created to convey a sense of gratitude on behalf of all of us and to celebrate these brave individuals, as their loved ones sit, patiently, waiting for their safe return home.” It was with the utmost admiration and respect that JEEP told this great story on Super Bowl Sunday. If you have not yet seen JEEP’s tribute to the military family, you can watch it below.
The last element of the S.A.F.E. platform is how JEEP and the USO touch the lives of the wounded and their families. JEEP allows the USO to make use of those funds where they are needed to make the greatest impact as part of $1 Million donation. When asked what makes the USO a good candidate to work with the JEEP brand, Kim said, “The USO’s reputation speaks for itself.” The USO supports JEEP in its mission to provide financial and in-kind aid to returning troops.
Military members wounded in battle are awarded The Purple Heart. However, there is one folklore surrounding a member of the JEEP family who was awarded this military decoration in 1943 for its heroic role during WWII: a JEEP 4×4 vehicle named “Old Faithful.”
The JEEP brand’s deep history with the US military allows this brand to continuously drive head on addressing the needs of those in need while serving in the military. They have brought vehicle after vehicle to life with each one celebrating the brand’s military past and capturing the military essence. Because of JEEP’s authentic lineage, this brand will continue to explore opportunities that support this nation’s military.
For more information on how you can support Operation S.A.F.E. Return, please visit the OSR website HERE.