Every day, BAE Systems employees come to work committed to delivering the best possible products and services to our national security customers and America’s men and women in uniform. Whether it’s combat vehicles, aircraft controls, weapon systems, advanced electronics, ship maintenance, or intelligence services, BAE Systems’ workforce is dedicated to protecting those who serve.
Around Veterans Day, employees increase their focus on the men and women of our armed forces by raising money to help with some of the mental wellness challenges that can result from military service. Afflictions such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury (TBI) and other issues take a toll over time, and can put service members’ mental well-being at risk – both during and after their time in uniform.
Stepping up to raise awareness
In 2016, we launched Defending 22 – a company-wide effort to raise awareness of the solemn statistic that approximately 22 U.S. veterans take their life each day. While that number has fluctuated in recent years, even one suicide is too many.
For 22 days leading up to Veterans Day, employees are challenged to take one action toward a personal health and wellness goal to serve as a daily reminder of those lost to suicide. In honor of each BAE Systems, Inc., employee who accepts the challenge, the company makes a monetary donation to one of several charitable organizations whose missions support the improvement of mental health and wellness for those who serve or have served. We never know what impact even a small act of support can have, and Defending 22 is another opportunity for our employees to show support for men and women who’ve served our nation.
“Our employees understand and appreciate the enormous sacrifices made by service members and their families,” said Laura Patterson. “It’s truly remarkable to see the activities employees undertake on a purely voluntary basis to support our military and veterans during their service and the transition to civilian life.”
This year, more than 6,700 BAE Systems, Inc. employees answered the call for Defending 22. Through their voluntary efforts, our employees not only raised awareness of military mental health, but they also generated approximately $130,000 in donations to our charitable partners.
“I participate in Defending 22 because I have seen first-hand the effect combat can have on people. Several years ago, a soldier who served under me in Iraq passed away after experiencing mental health challenges once he returned to civilian life,” said Dan Baldi, an employee and Army veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “His fate and the experience of others motivates me to support my fellow veterans, and Defending 22 is one way to do that.”
In addition to the Defending 22 campaign, BAE Systems employees come together in other ways to give back and thank America’s veterans for their service and sacrifice.
Employees across 15 BAE Systems sites participated in an on-site Veterans Day volunteer activity this year. The teams assembled more than 4,000 hygiene kits and wrote 'Thank You' cards. These will be distributed through Operation Gratitude, a nonprofit organization that provides volunteer opportunities for Americans to express their appreciation to all who serve or have served our nation.
In San Diego, Calif, a team of employee volunteers is partnering with Habitat for Humanity and the Wounded Warrior Project to assist a local U.S. Navy veteran with much-needed home renovations.
The Warrior’s Canvas in Johnson City, Tenn., near the Holston Army Ammunition Plant operated by BAE Systems, conducts therapeutic art classes to help veterans cope with stress and other issues through creativity and learning new skills. This year, BAE Systems’ sponsorship made the art sessions free for veterans, and provided class supplies for pottery, oil and water color painting, pencil sketching, and other activities.
“The Warrior’s Canvas is dedicated to serving the needs of veterans and participating in events that support this cause and the betterment of our community,” said Tommy Farmer, coordinator for The Warrior’s Canvas Veteran’s Art Center Studio.
“Supporting the men and women who protect us, our country, and our way of life is not only our mission at BAE Systems, but our highest calling,” said Todd Hayes, the company’s general manager of the Holston site. “It is so gratifying to see that our support can have such a direct impact on their lives. We fully believe in the mission and are honored to contribute.”
We value America’s veterans
BAE Systems has an ongoing partnership with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to continue their service and enriches communities with veteran talent, skills and preparedness. Throughout the month of November, more than 500 veteran volunteers with The Mission Continues are leading service efforts across the country in celebration of Veterans Day, and BAE Systems is a proud sponsor of this campaign.
Veterans and service members are an integral part of the fabric of BAE Systems. They are our customers, employees, neighbors and friends. We can’t thank them enough for all that they do and sacrifice to preserve our way of life.