Many people know I work for a large, major insurance carrier. Not hard to figure out as we put all our life’s details on Facebook these days. But what most people don’t know is that I work specifically with the TRICARE Military Benefits Program and have been for the last 4 years. There are days where we all complain that we have to go to work and wish to win the lottery, but even so, at least I can sit here day after day and know that I am helping to support our service men and women, along with their families. As we sit here just passed Memorial Day, and recently celebrated Flag Day, we turn to summer time and the patriotism flies as we look forward to the 4th of July. This time of year always strikes me as one of the most memorable times for everyone to honor and support our military and our fallen heroes.
In the last few years, I have been blessed to be a part of a few different efforts to collect darts, supplies, dartboards and donations for what I like to call Darts for the Troops. This program was created for many of us to get together to collect these items and send them to our troops who are deployed overseas. This allows them some great fun to experience during their downtime while living in an extremely stressful and uncomfortable situation.
One of the biggest contributors in the effort to support our military has been DartWorld. DartWorld is located in Lynn, Massachusetts and is owned by Don & Mark Amirault. The company is the distributors of Anheuser Busch and Harley Davidson products, and is the exclusive distributor for Harrows Darts of England. I recently was looking through their Facebook page and noticed quite a few posts from our military members, who had contacted DartWorld, and received supplies from them to enjoy a few games while deployed. Below are some of those photos and short stories regarding them:
Hey there Mark! It’s SrA Brett Watson from the 62 ERS deployed squadron that you and your company so graciously donated to, finally getting around to getting this pic to you! Sorry again it took so long, but please allow me to extend the utmost appreciation from us to you for everything you have done for us! It really means the world! SrA Watson, Brett 62 ERS/ Reaper APG
We are AMMO troops who maintain and build the munitions our unit expends, and we often have free time when we are waiting for the drones to land or take off so we can do what we do best. Having this dart board and everything that came with it will really help us to pass the time. Also, it really felt like a Christmas present for all of us opening up that package today. We do get care packages from time to time, usually consisting of candy and toiletries, so getting something that is made for fun was something special for us. We sincerely thank you and hope you, your family, and everybody at Dart World has a wonderful holiday. Best Regards, Robert Shaner (pic below)
Another great contributor, whose efforts most times go unnoticed as well, is A-Z Darts in Sacramento, California. A-Z Darts is owned by John and Kelly Baxter and have been in the darts business for more years than even I can remember, and I have been around a very long time. A-Z Darts has a specific page on their website called “Military Corner” and features quite a few photos from our deployed military members and their new darts set ups.
39th Operations Support Squadron in Incirlik Air Base, Turkey near the city of Adana. John B is sharing the awesome dart set-up they did for their Heritage Room and also a sweet picture of his squadron. John hopes you like their set-up… I know we do!!
Great to hear from the US Marines on deployment in Afghanistan and hear the donated Shot! set-up for their down time is going well and some good darters are being created! (pic below)
A couple years ago, I received another request for help from a deployed fellow dart player named Chris Stone. Chris and his team were deployed in Afghanistan for a while and were looking for some help with getting some boards, darts and supplies sent over. Thanks to the greatness of a lot of my friends, many sets of darts and lots of supplies were donated to be sent over. One fellow player of the Genesee Valley Darts Association in Rochester, New York also donated a considerable sum of money to help facilitate sending lots of supplies to any troops that needed it, and to assist in the costs of shipping all these items overseas. Some pictures of the guys with the stuff were sent and it was totally cool for me to see one of the guys with a set of my signature darts looking at his phone as he was checking out Google to look up my name (which was on the darts). I mean, how cool is that? After some time, I heard back from Chris when he asked for my mailing address. I figured the guys were going to get a card signed and sent over as a thank you. Quite a few weeks later, this huge package shows up at my door and I saw that the return address was from Chris in Afghanistan. Shown below is the item that was sent by the crew as a thank you. I have to say that after the 30+ years I have spent supporting darts and doing whatever I could to help people out, this was absolutely the most incredible thank you that anyone has ever given me. It certainly brought a few tears to my eyes. Enclosed in the hand painted display is a folded flag and a certificate that says “So that all shall know, this flag was flown in the face of the enemy at the 211th Military Police Company Headquarters in Parwan, Afghanistan on June 14th, 2014. Illuminated in the dark by the light of justice, and bears witness to sacrifice and courage of those men and women fighting terrorist forces threatening the freedom of the United States of America and the World.” It was presented by SPC Christopher Stone and signed by the Company Commander and Company First Sergeant. It even has a battle scar in the glass from the shipping. This gift is precious and something I will cherish and keep with me forever.
So as we sit here an honor our military, we should also never forget our fallen soldiers. One recent story came across to me from the Collier family of Illinois. Matthew Collier’s son, Alic, joined the Air Force to become a Defender: Security Forces. On September 15, 2015, after a training exercise with his unit, Alic was resting and fell asleep in his military vehicle. Upon reaching the destination, the driver attempted to wake Alic up and was unable to do so. Emergency personnel were called; however, Alic could not be resuscitated. Alic died from hypertension cardiovascular disease with complications. He was 19 years young.
As the family pushed through the grief, they were determined to find ways to honor Alic and his service. The decision was made to start a college scholarship fund in Alic’s name. An annual dart tournament was scheduled to take place each year around Veteran’s Day in November to help raise funds for this cause. Another way for funds to be raised was done with the help from Charles at RedEye Rhino/Ultimate Team Gear, who with a little help, created the “All Gave Some-Some Gave All” jersey in order to honor those veterans that signed a blank check to this nation that they would stand to protect it. 50% of the sale of this jersey will be donated to the Alic Collier Memorial Veteran/Family Scholarship Fund. This scholarship will be awarded every year, on January 23rd, which is Alic’s birthday, to a veteran or a family member of a veteran for college expenses.
Thank you to those veteran’s near and far, along with their families, who make the sacrifice daily to keep this great land of ours safe and free.
Anne Sleepy Kramer