Service to the Sea

wounded nature

Military veterans repurpose their skills with service to the sea, offering entrepreneurs an eco-partnership that’s good for business and our oceans.

In 2012 Wounded Nature – Working Veterans, acquired five houseboats and manned them with veterans who’s mission is to clean beaches, visit military bases and hospitals, and educate the public about recycling and littering at port festivals on the East Coast. Each vessel represents a separate branch of the service with its own sponsor. This innovative approach to conservation defines Wounded Nature – Working Veterans as the only organization utilizing veterans and water based vessels to clean up the environment, provide first stage employment opportunities for veterans, and educate the public on a year round basis.

Wounded Nature is working to make the East Coast become the showcase for displaying to the world how to solve the problems of reducing waste and the rate of unemployment for veterans. Eco-conscious entrepreneurs have an opportunity to have their brand become closely associated with this campaign and all of the positive connotations associated with it, explains CEO, Rudy Socha.

The genesis of our houseboats honoring the various branches of the military and our missions came prior to the gulf oil spill. The number of rescued birds, sea turtles, and sea mammals that had ingested plastic items had increased dramatically.  We investigated why it was occurring and how to fix it. We discovered that none of the clean-up non-profits wanted to work on the rural beaches and estuaries because of the travel time to and from each clean-up location. Another reason given was that it was difficult to generate publicity since most media companies would not send their reporters to rural clean-up areas. Our proposal solves both problems. Our houseboats can be stationed immediately offshore or beached right at the clean-up area (depending on tides) delivering workers and supplies in and out of the work area in small crafts. The media will be invited to live aboard for a day or two at no cost to the media company.

Wounded Nature – Working Veterans is a non-profit organization which evolved from the need of a solution to two substantial issues:

First, it has been discovered that plastic pollution in the ocean does not decompose as quickly as marine researchers once thought. As plastic breaks down slowly in the ocean, smaller particles are mistaken for being small particle food sources such as plankton and fish eggs, and ingested by ocean animals. This causes death due to blockage of the ocean animals digestive and circulatory systems.

The beverage industry estimate that over the next 3 years 600 billion containers will be sold and only 200 billion of those containers will be recycled. Currently 74% of Americans have access to curbside recycling yet only 33% of beverage containers are being segregated and recycled. Wounded Nature – Working Veterans will be working to improve the total percentage for plastics being recycled. The opportunity exists to prevent up to 400 billion beverage containers from being littered and reaching landfills.

Second, veterans returning to the United States from the war in Iraq and Afghanistan are facing employment discrimination, due to a falsely perceived risk of emotional instability. The national rate of unemployment among returning veterans is about 4 percent higher than the rate for civilians, and in some states, it is up to 15 percent higher. As a result, each veteran who is unable to successfully transition into the civilian workforce ends up on disability, which ends up costing the American taxpayers 2.1 million dollars over their lifetime.

Wounded Nature – Working Veterans is the first organization to benefit both causes of cleaning up pollution in the ocean and also granting unemployed veterans jobs. In doing so, Wounded Nature – Working Veterans secures a unique position in the non-profit sector. Our vessels make it possible to access remote beaches and estuaries along the East Coast that have previously been untouched by other groups staging clean-ups. Through collaboration with the Veterans Administration we hire veterans, who have completed their rehabilitation, to remove the plastic, trash and medical waste from these rural beaches. Not all of the veterans we hire will have been injured during their tour of service. The veteran’s employment with us provides them with their first civilian paycheck and aids their transition into the workforce. For many of our workers, the first paycheck is symbolic of the end of a long and difficult journey to reintroduction.

Sponsorship exposure for our boats will have a greater value than many traditional advertising views because the majority of our exposures will be generated in the form of news reports, articles, and social media marketing in the context of endorsements; “should have been there,” “should have seen this,” or “make sure you attend.”

This sponsorship associates a brand year round in a high publicity context that is supporting a clean environment, veterans, and our military. It is our intent to help our sponsors sell their products, services and increase market share.

Not only is our sponsorship a great advertising vehicle that justifies ad dollars based on exposure, but it will also create a tremendous amount of political goodwill. Our sponsors will be able to tell East Coast politicians that their company is cleaning up their state at no cost to the state while also working to boost their economy by soliciting veterans and environmentalists to attend our events and participate in the beach clean-ups.

Besides corporate sponsorship, Wounded Nature – Working Veterans encourages support and service to the sea via volunteering, events, memberships, in-kind donations and something we all can do at the click of a mouse – help spread the word.

Learn more about this unique and dedicated conservation organisation at: www.woundednature.org

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Inga Yandell
Explorer and photo-journalist, passionate about nature, culture and travel. Combining science and conservation with investigative journalism to provide educational resources and a platform for science exploration.
Inga Yandell

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