One of the great things about this job is that I get to engage with Veteran owned businesses and non profits, who are out there making a positive impact in the world and finding a way to give back to their community. I recently sat down with Army Ranger Veteran Antonio Ruiz and Stephanie Solton from the ReGroup Foundation to talk about their one of a kind mission. Enjoy.
The ReGroup Foundation‘s mission is all about providing self-sustaining ranches where our Military Service Members/Veterans can live while they “ReGroup” to successfully reintegrate into civilian life. These ranches will be strategically located outside of large cities and will provide a safe, sober housing situation and the Ranch members will have many opportunities while at ReGroup. These opportunities include resume creation, tutors for college/vocational schools, a unique and clearly defined transition mission with target dates for each phase of transition to civilian life, counseling, physical fitness areas for individual PT, opportunities to get involved with our other Veteran based connections including Team Rubicon and Mission Continues and so much more!
Here is more about the team behind The ReGroup Foundation:
HJ: Tell me more about your career path that led you to starting The ReGroup Foundation:
RF: Antonio served 10 years in the military as an Army Ranger and has owned his own roofing business. He has volunteered with Veterans Court in multiple states. He knows how the military works and what the struggles are post service. He has strong networking skills and great connections that make him the perfect Executive Director!
Stephanie offers 13 years of work at Whole Foods Market in several positions ranging from Payroll Manager to Store Marketing Director and 15 years of running a telecommunications business so she has business knowledge and management experience from those. She has participated in and produced many events from store opening galas to community races. She has been on both the donor and donee side of donation/sponsorship requests from her business work and volunteerism within her communities. This experience will help her greatly in her position as the Development Director.
HJ: What is the core of your non-profit?
RF: ReGroup Foundation is a national hybrid, non-profit with the mission to pro-actively prevent homelessness, suicide, and any of the other struggles our veterans and former military service members face by providing them a healthy, supportive environment to live in during transition from military service to civilian society. We will sustain our mission by running agri/aquacultural businesses on the backside of the ranches.
HJ: What is a typical day look like at the Ranch currently right now?
RF: We are still building our first ranch down in Texas. So as we prepare that, our weekends are often spent working events spreading the word about ReGroup so in addition to the usual emails and phones calls our days typically include prepping for the upcoming weekends event by checking/replenishing marketing supplies, confirming details regarding locations and setup times. And of course Antonio has to detail the MRSOV.
HJ: What experiences have best prepared you for your job?
RF: For Antonio being an Army Ranger and Special Forces medic and conducting joint operations in foreign countries doing humanitarian work laid the foundation for him to be able to work quickly and under pressure.
For Stephanie years of running businesses have given me experience with the legalities required to get work done. Being a mom to an airman has made me much more aware and compassionate about our military and issues that effect them post service.
HJ: Tell me about the various groups of your team.
RF: We have our team of staff and volunteers that encompass everything from advisers in farming, ranching, aquaculture to college admissions advisers, workforce mentors, the VA clinics, counselors, the DOD, and the National Guard. Then we have the men/women exiting military service and their families. We also work closely with all the many wonderful charitable organizations that are also on missions to help our veterans with their transition.
Being a “hybrid” non-profit gives us another group that includes restaurants and businesses in each community that we sell our products to in order to supply the funds to cover the overhead costs of our facilities so we can offer them free of charge to the service members. All of these groups must work in unison to accomplish our mission so we stay very busy!
HJ: What is the best non-profit or entrepreneur quote that guides you daily?
RF: For Antonio it is the third stanza of the Ranger Creed, “Never shall I fail my comrades.”
For Stephanie it is the echo my mother’s objection to the words “I can’t” in my head. If we uttered those words her response has always been “Of course you CAN! You CAN DO ANYTHING you put your mind to. Only question is do you choose to?” This has served me well in both my personal and business life as often if I’m not succeeding or doing something to the best of my abilities if I simply reflect on what is not going right I see that I’m not choosing to make it a priority and just not putting enough thought or determination into it.
HJ: Do you have any words or advice that you would like to lend to Veterans that might be considering starting their own business or non-profit?
RF: In regards to non profit work: Take your time and do your homework. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel or compete with other organizations. Many of us have similar work and goals so we need to work together. Figure out where there is a gap and fill that. Establish relationships and work with organizations that compliment yours as needed to accomplish your mission.
My advice for businesses would be very similar. Spend the time doing your research and writing a solid business plan. Look for your niche.
I am really excited to be part of the birth of the ReGroup Foundation in the small capacity that I am. I’ve seen their mission work firsthand and am proud to introduce them to our Havok Journal readers. Their mission is powerful, offers structure, a continuance of the brotherhood found in the military, assistance with education and getting into the workforce. ReGroup gives Veterans a greater purpose and promise of success as they transition out of the military.
If you are interested in donating to their mission, know a Veteran that will need their services, or are interested in partnering with them, please contact them here.