Soldier Strong was originally established by Christopher Meek as “Soldiers Socks” in 2009. Chris was in the World Trade Center towers on September 11th and was responsible for getting 29 persons out on that day. Following those attacks Chris knew he had to do something to give back but didn’t know what form that would take.
A few years later Chris learned from a Marine Corps mentor that some deployed troops were lacking essentials like socks and baby wipes. He formed “Soldiers Socks” in 2009 and the new organization shipped over 75,000 pounds of donated socks and wipes.
As combat operations began winding down, Chris researched other gaps in need among returning Veterans. The organization shifted focus toward “helping Veterans take their next steps forward in life” beginning with a series of scholarships. Soon thereafter Chris read an article about a company building exoskeletons that allow paralyzed persons to stand and walk. Chris arranged a meeting with the company and was “sold in 30 seconds.” He committed to funding and donating 10 devices before asking the price ($150,000 per suit). Spurred by this meeting, the organization pivoted once more toward a focus on using technology to help Veterans and in 2015 Soldier Strong was born.
The “Soldier Suit” exoskeletons are not meant to be a permanent device but are instead used as a form of therapy. One of their clients was told he would never walk again but after Solider Suit therapy was walking with a cane in 10 weeks.
Another of their technology based initiatives uses sophisticated virtual reality simulations to help address PTSD. By being repetitively placed back in the traumatic incident, the process allows the Veteran to control the memory and recover.
Soldier Strong works in partnership with the Veterans Administration in delivering their programs in locations across the country. More information may be found at their website.
TAKEAWAY: “These Veterans may need a little help but they ARE NOT broken.”
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