by Ed Sealy
As we inch toward our own Murph Challenge, each week I will continue to try to shine a light on various servicemen, both fallen and alive.
But on Fridays, I will try to find something local: a business or charity that is close to home for us and can deliver more of a sniper’s shot at helping local veterans in need.
These won’t be hard sells or requests for donations, but it is my hope that when we reach in to our wallets, whether to donate, or to purchase products that we think about where our money is going and if even the smallest effort can have an enormous impact on our neighbors.
Today, let’s take a look at Savannah’s own Nine Line Apparel and the Nine Line Foundation.
The name ‘Nine Line’ is iconic in nature and easily recognizable by any service member – past, present, or future.
In combat, a Nine Line is an emergency medevac request, and is often the difference between life and death for the most severely wounded.
Two Army officers (and brothers), CPTs Daniel & Tyler Merritt, started Nine Line Apparel in a garage. When deciding to create their own apparel line, the Merritt brothers desired to create a brand that advocates for military, veterans, and patriotic Americans.
Nine Line’s success is due to the initiative, innovation, and exemplary customer service run by its dedicated staff.
In just a few short years, they have grown to employ more than 70 veterans, military spouses, and patriotic Americans out of a warehouse just a short distance from historic downtown Savannah, Ga.
As a result of its support of the military and patriotism, the apparel line promotes the importance of caring for our veterans, especially those who are severely wounded.
In early 2013, after Tyler’s West Point classmate lost three limbs fighting in Afghanistan, the brothers created Nine Line Foundation. The brothers committed to donating a portion of the proceeds of all apparel purchases to helping severely wounded veterans and their families.
Nine Line Foundation was founded in 2012 ago by CPT Tyler Merritt, a member of the Army’s elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment and his brother, CPT Daniel Merritt, a military police officer.
When the Merritt brothers created Nine Line Apparel for military veterans, their vision was simple: to create a high quality clothing brand to be enjoyed by patriotic Americans around the globe.
As their brand has grown, and they have decided to give back to the community they once served through expanding the Nine Line brand to include the Nine Line Foundation.
In early 2013, after Tylers West Point classmate, CPT Edward “Flip” Klein, lost three limbs fighting in Afghanistan, the two brothers decided to do the same thing they did as soldiers: proactively look for solutions.
They donated a portion of all apparel purchases to help defray the tremendous rehabilitation costs of CPT Klein and, in the process, began a journey to help severely wounded veterans regain their lives.
The Foundation’s current initiative is to build a wheelchair accessible home for CPL Jessie Fletcher, a multiple amputee injured in 2011 and the Foundation’s fourth candidate.
Nine Line Foundation, in cooperation with other non-profits, is helping to raise the funds necessary to purchase the necessary handicapped accessible features for the home.
Jessie is just one of many in need of assistance, and the line of individuals in need continues to grow.
Nine Line has reached out to the community and has watched the interest grow month after month. From marathon runners, to military based motorcycle clubs, to individuals who have never thought about the plight of those returning from combat, people have risen to the challenge and helped Nine Line continue to raise the funds necessary to significantly improve the quality of life of those wounded in the defense of this country.
By focusing efforts on one individual at a time, Nine Line is able to do more with less.
With zero overhead, 100% of all dollars collected are directed to the candidates’ personalized needs, relying on volunteers to ensure the mission is accomplished.
As veterans themselves, the Nine Line team feels a lifelong commitment to support their brothers and sisters injured in combat. Their goal is to build greater awareness of Nine Line in the hope that one day they will have enough funding to help every soldier on their list.
On Saturday, May 21st, the Nine Line Foundation is having it’s 3rd annual 5k/10K at Hutchinson Island Racetrack. If you are interested you can join TEAM NINE LINE and advocate for our most severely wounded veterans.
Proceeds will benefit the Nine Line Foundation’s current candidate, SFC Aaron Causey, a combat wounded veteran with multiple severe injuries. Proceeds from the race will help SFC Causey and his wife build a handicap accessible home.
As always… Thank you to the CTF Army for the opportunity to host this event and the ability to honor the over 1.1 million service men who have given the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation. Join us for the Murph Challenge on Monday, May 30th as we give thanks and celebrate the lives of those who allow to live comfortably under this blanket of Freedom!!
To Visit Nine Line Apparel: http://www.ninelineapparel.com/ (Seriously sweet gear.. that you will be seeing me wear more and more)
To learn more about The Nine Line Foundation or to donate: http://ninelinefoundation.org/
To register for the 5k/10K on Saturday May 21st: http://ninelinefoundation.org/portfolio/3rd-annual-nine-line-5k10k/