Active Valor is a remarkable endeavor. Founded by SEAL Perry Yee, Active Valor is a 501(c)3 non-profit serves many functions. First and foremost, it pairs Gold Star kids with veteran mentors, where they will embark on all types of adventures together, from scavenger hunts and land nav, to team and confidence building exercises. These exercises are called Valor Adventures, and are great not only for the kids who lost their fathers overseas, but also for the mothers and the veteran mentors as well!
In addition, they have a care package program – supporting those still fighting for our freedom as Americans, and they send care packages handpicked and sent by veterans themselves. Furthermore, Active Valor has a Veteran K9 Outreach component, fostering a community where vets and their support or service dogs can come learn, grow, and heal together. if you’re a veteran and don’t have a dog yet – Don’t worry! They will help facilitate finding the perfect companion from a local shelter that fits your needs.
Make sure you check out Active Valor to learn more about them, where they operate, and how you can help.
We got the chance to catch up with Perry Yee, CEO of Active Valor. Here’s what he had to say:
SGPT: What was your background on the teams?
Perry Yee: My time in the teams was relatively short. I did 6 years on active duty. I went started BUD/s with class 259, had a couple different injuries and roll backs and after 3 classes and 3 hell weeks, I finally graduated with class 262. From there I went to SEAL Team 7 in Coronado and was assigned to Echo Platoon. I had the great fortune of serving with some great guys in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. I was also very fortunate to be able to serve in a high combat zone and do some great work with the team and for our country. It’s given me the opportunity to have a lot of experience that most people don’t get in life.
SGPT: What did you learn on the teams that you find especially beneficial to your current endeavors?
PY: My biggest take away from the teams and the amount of training we go through is perseverance and resiliency. With the amount of challenges and difficulties I faced over the years with my transition, it was very easy to get discouraged. There was plenty of times where things got tough enough where it made me want to throw in the towel, but the “never quit” attitude that gets burned into your mind through BUD/s and the Teams took over in the end. Starting a new business in a field that you know nothing about is hard and there’s a reason why a lot of new businesses that start end in their first couple years. But failing is a choice. There’s always set backs, but knowing how to deal with them and how to push through is a skill that not everyone has. It also helps to come from the background that I do. Most Americans today hear about what it takes to make it through the training we do and the amount of hard work and effort that goes into it. Being able to take my experience from the military and use it towards everything else I do in life is shown with the work we are doing.
SGPT: How did Active Valor start?
PY: Active Valor was created to try to fill a need that we have seen in the lives of many veterans that we have had the great opportunity to work with. Loosely, it was also developed based on my own personal experiences and struggles that I faced after discharging from the military. After getting out back in 2011, I bounced around from school, and to job to job, never finding the true purpose or passion behind anything. It was difficult coming from a military community where there is so much drive behind what you do and always having a mission, to being on the other side where your efforts don’t seem to matter anymore.
One thing that I had come to see over the years with other veterans like myself, is that there was huge lack of purpose. Whether or not they had good jobs, a family and steady income, there’s one thing that veterans yearn for which is that sense of service. We all joined the military in hopes to serve our country in the best way that we can, but even after the fact, that feeling doesn’t go away. So I decided to try and do something about it.
The different programs that we offer with Active Valor were designed to give these men and women (and myself) the opportunity to serve their country again, just in a different way. We want to show these veterans the value of who they are and what they have accomplished in life and that just because they don’t wear the uniform anymore, their efforts and service is still needed by many.
SGPT: We know you have a trifecta of positive ways to help the community – from outings with Gold Star Kids, to Care Packages, to K9 outreach endeavors; all of which are very commendable. Can you please elaborate on how all of these came together?
PY: With the mission of Active Valor, we wanted to help combat both mental and emotional struggles the a lot of veterans go through after the leave the military. We first started with our K9 outreach which is designed to help men and women battle the mental stresses the might be going though. The biggest thing that helped me personally when I got out of the service was getting a dog.
I originally grew up on the east coast, where my entire family still lives, so being in San Diego, I was really far from home. I didn’t have a good support system being alone out west. I had fallen into a really bad place where I secluded myself from everything around me. I literally would go 3 or 4 days without even seeing another person. It wasn’t until I go t a dog, where it now forced me to get out of my home, have responsibility for more than myself, and gave me that little bit of companionship that I was missing.
This is a feeling that I wanted to be able to share with other people that might be facing the same issues as I was. With the outreach, our focus is to give the veterans the means to get out of their homes, meet other veterans like themselves and to help build new relationships that they may not of otherwise. On top of that, they get the added bonus of getting free training for their dog from behavioral experts with a lot of experience and get to enjoy being outdoors in San Diego, where it’s always beautiful.
Our Valor Adventures program was where the first big ideas came with Active Valor. Being a veteran myself without a mission is a very unfulfilling life. So I had to ask myself how I was going to change it. I think I can speak for most veterans when I say that we all desire that chance to serve again. That led to the idea of starting something that not only gave them the opportunity to do, but to also help another great community as well. When it comes to the military and veteran community, you hear the words “camaraderie” and “brotherhood” a lot. We wanted a way where we could also honor our fellow brothers and sisters who have passed on, and we couldn’t think of a better way to do that, thank to be able to help take care of their families now that they are gone.
The Gold Star community holds a very special place in our hearts. It made perfect sense to be able to connect these families in need with the veteran community that has a lot to give. We wanted to give these children who have lost someone special in the military to have the chance to regain the positive influence in their lives. With Valor Adventures, we pair veteran mentors up with these kids for an experience unlike anything else. With our program, these kids are able to spend the day with someone who has walked in the shoes of their lost loved one, and to have the chance to learn different skill sets from them, that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. Together, they face different challenges that they have to overcome together, utilizing team work and trust in one another. The bonds that are created are lasting as our veterans stay connected with their mentees and their family in between our events. We wanted to create an ongoing mentorship for these kids and to give them positive role models with people they can look up to. This is something that we haven’t found any other organization doing.
With the main focus of our organization being with helping veterans, we still wanted a way to give back to those who are still currently serving which is why we started our care package program as well. Not only are we able to send much appreciated gifts from home, but our veterans hand pack every single package that goes overseas. It gives them another way to take care of their brothers and sisters still in the fight.
SGPT: How can people reading this article help?
PY: When it comes to help, we can never get enough of it. Like all non-profit organizations, the most important thing is having the means to drive the mission forward. With my personality, I have always hated asking people for anything, especially money. But unfortunately, that is the business we are in. What I always have to keep in mind, is that if I don’t succeed, then the company, the veterans we serve and the families we serve, don’t succeed as well.
Being a new organization, it’s been a challenge to find the proper help that we need. One of the biggest things, people can do to help, is to help us spread our mission. We love what we do and we are truly honored to be able to make a positive impact in the lives that we have already, but there is an endless amount of people out there that would benefit from our services.
For people who would like to help financially, there’s plenty of ways to get involved personally or to get their companies involved as well. Whether it is buying care packages that get shipped to troops overseas, sponsoring Gold Star Families for our Valor Adventures program, or general donations to our organizations, they can all be found on our website at www.activevalor.com.
We are also always looking to team up and create positive working relationships with other organizations who believe in what we do and who truly want to help make in impact in the lives of well deserving Americans.
SGPT: What are some of the most memorable experiences you’ve gotten from Valor Adventures?
PY: As far as my most memorable experiences, I don’t think I am able to choose just one. From the second the day starts to when the day ends, there is so much joy that is spread. Seeing the smiles on the children’s faces when they are enjoying the time working one on one with their veteran mentors is one of the best. These are kids who have gone through great tragedy in their lives at such a young age, and to see them just be a kid and having fun is absolutely amazing. Watching them learn different skills from their mentors and utilizing team work to overcome challenges together is extremely humbling. The best thing we hear all day, is when the kids are getting ready to leave and they ask when the next adventure is going to be.
On the veteran side, its also very humbling to see these men and women have the chance to feel valued again and to know that their efforts are personally making a huge difference in someone else’s life. It’s been rare for us to find other programs that allow veterans to open up and be vulnerable and share these experiences.