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Monica Smiley

Monica Smiley is editor and publisher of Enterprising Women. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Institute of Economic Empowerment of Women (IEEW). To learn more about how you can become a mentor in the Peace Through Business program or donate to the organization, visit www.ieew.org. Contact her at msmiley@enterprisingwomen.com.

OPERATION HAT TRICK "THEY PROMISED TO DEFEND. WE PROMISE TO SUPPORT."

By Dot Sheehan, President and Founder, Operation Hat Trick 
Who EVER would have thought a simple New Hampshire radio broadcast trivia question would change my life and that of millions of others!!

The trivia question over the airwaves that morning was, “What is the one thing wanted most by head wounded service members coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan?” The answer: a baseball cap to cover the wounds of war.

In that moment, I knew I had to do something. At the time, I was working in College Athletics at the University of New Hampshire and on February 4, 2008 tragedy struck our college community. My colleagues’ son and his friend, Team 6 Navy SEALs, Nate Hardy and Mike Koch were killed during an assault on a suicide bomb cell in Iraq. They fought together and died together and were buried side by side at Arlington National Cemetery. Operation Hat Trick (http://operationhattrick.org/) would now become a very personal journey to help those warriors injured while fighting for our country.

Operation Hat Trick (OHT) supports the recovery of wounded service members and veterans through the sale of OHT branded merchandise and products. Proceeds have been donated to over 50 selected veteran organizations across the country in two dozen states. All OHT funds treat wounded service members and veterans recovering from unthinkable injuries, whether they are visible or invisible.

2018 has been a great and humbling year for OHT. We are on course to reach the $1 Million mark in donations as we mark the 10 year anniversary of Nate and Mikes passing and the work of OHT.

OHT’s products are designed by Boston's ‘47, one of the nation’s premier sports headwear and apparel-company, and is OHT’s exclusive headwear and apparel partner. Products feature hats and other apparel with logos from all of the partner teams, allowing fans to support their teams/organizations while helping a veteran.

Today, almost 400 colleges, 21 NHL teams, 15 NBA teams, 80 Minor League Baseball teams,165 high schools in 4 states, and over 100 companies have adopted OHT and we are in over 2,000 retail locations nationwide, including Target, Amazon, Hibbett, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Barnes and Noble and Follett College Bookstores, Lids and many more.

I am particularly proud of the one of a kind business model developed for OHT. It is the first national philanthropic co-branded cause for a nonprofit. NO ONE HAS ONE LIKE IT!!! We aren’t the traditional non-profit with traditional fundraising. We built a business model and applied it to a social need where every sale includes a royalty that OHT donates out to those in need. OHT fills critical gaps in care that exist between conventional organizations and government programs that don’t cover (and/or can’t quickly meet) a wide range of personal needs that help with veterans’ recovery, and regularly fall through the cracks. The model funds carefully selected, typically smaller, military support organizations compatible with OHT’s mission. The organization works with dozens of its college and university partners to identify worthy organizations in their own communities.

OHT is currently a multi-million dollar brand in retail and is donating 89% of its royalties to make a difference (the goal is 100%). There are over 1.6 million OHT hats on heads worldwide!

OHT is extremely proud and humbled to be closing in one $1 million in donations since 2014 and we are making a significant impact. What kind of impact?

  • In Duluth, MN, OHT has donated to the Homeless Veterans Alliance through a very unique on air TV promotion. Our support has helped reduce the homeless population to 20, a significant difference from before OHT’s involvement. All others are now in long-term housing.
  • In Rome, Maine there is “OHT Week” at the Travis Mills Foundation. OHT pays for 8 families to attend for the week. This is a time for the attending wounded veterans to meet their fellow warriors and continue their healing process. It’s a time for their caregivers to get that much need “break” and get to know others in their same situation.
  • OHT donates socks to homeless veterans who live in the winter’s cold. Socks are the #1 most requested item of homeless veterans.

Who knew a simple idea of combining the love of your team, organization and brand with the love of your country would be so powerful? I believe Nate and Mike would be so proud.

Travis Mills, one of 5 surviving quadruple amputees has aptly said,” There is no greater threat to our freedom than the lack of gratitude to those who provide it.” This speaks the truth to me and OHT is here and totally committed to making a difference in the lives of those recovering from unthinkable injuries.

For me personally, nothing in my life has been more rewarding than making sure those who fight for our freedom are taken care of in their time of need.

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