September 13 was the last day of National Suicide Prevention Week. i had the honor of spending time with members of the Minnesota Army National Guard, for an event focused on suicide prevention. It meant a lot to get to share the TWLOHA story with these folks and to echo their leadership in saying, “It’s okay to be honest. It’s okay to ask for help.”
We spent the morning with the soldiers at their training facility and then we spent the afternoon in a very different setting, at Mall of America. We were given space for a special pop-up store to celebrate our “We’ll See You Tomorrow” campaign. At Mall of America, we also took some time to check out stores. TWLOHA is unique in that it is primarily funded by t-shirt sales, so we like to see the latest trends, what different brands are doing.
We kept seeing camo. On the heels of a morning spent with men and women who wear it not as fashion but as their uniform, it was certainly interesting. i’ve always had a hard time when it comes to people outside the military wearing camouflage. Because the men and women of the armed forces risk their lives wearing it. There’s a weight to it, a meaning easily missed when it’s reduced to a trend.
This is why in nine-plus years of TWLOHA, we’ve never made anything involving camo. Until now.
We’re proud to announce Camo Filled, a new spin on one of our signature designs. In wanting these shirts to be more than a trend, we’re proud to donate a portion of the proceeds to USACares. They seek to remove the financial barrier that exists for post-9/11 service members of all military branches who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or traumatic brain injury (TBI), but cannot afford to leave their employment for treatment. USACares pays essential household bills while the service member/veteran is attending residential treatment through Veteran Affairs.
It’s estimated that 22 veterans die by suicide each day. In recent years, more men and women of the military have died by suicide than the number killed in combat. The good news is that we can help change these numbers. We can’t change yesterday but we can work toward changing tomorrow and today. This shirt is about doing just that, saying these lives matter, whether they’re far away or back at home. We’ll wear what they wear. We’ll stand with them to say they’re not alone.
To all who serve and fight, we want to say thank you and we want to say we’re sorry. We’re sorry for what you’ve seen and felt and lost. And we thank you for your service, for risking your life and sacrificing so much to protect the lives of others. We know it isn’t simple, that the battle doesn’t end the day you make it home. May we love you well not only in the distance, but also when you’re in the room. May we ask the honest questions. May we ask you how you’re doing.