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Exploring Life & Business with Mark George of H3 Heroes Helping Heroes 4Life

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mark George.

Hi Mark, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I came to be the Founder of my own Social Enterprise through a long and varied history of military and public service, business, special events, project management, and nonprofit work.

As BOTH a Veteran and 1st Responder, I am able to fully embrace the needs and struggles of the Veteran community in my military hometown of San Diego. My father, Sr. Chief Gene I. George, was a U.S. Navy veteran who served in Viet Nam. I grew up in military housing with my parents and three sisters starting in Moffett Field in Alameda, CA, and then in the culturally diverse community of Linda Vista in San Diego, California, where I forged the bonds of a community of life-long friends.

I graduated from Stephen Watts Kearny High School in San Diego and entered the United States Navy in 1978 where I was stationed for 3 years in Yokosuka, Japan, aboard the USS MIDWAY (CV-41).

I earned several meritorious awards during my tour of service as USN AD2 George, M.A.:

Navy Unit Commendation JAN 78~JUN 79
Meritorious Unit Commendation 13 NOV 79~08 FEB 80
Battle Efficiency Award 01 JUL 80~31 DEC 81
Navy Expeditionary Medals: APR~JUN 79, NOV 79~FEB 80, AUG~NOV 80, MAR~MAY 81

After my military service, I was trained and served the City of San Diego as a Firefighter and Deputy Fire Marshal for 23 years. As Deputy Fire Marshal in the City of San Diego, I coordinated the top Special Events in the City of San Diego. I worked directly with the NFL and the Super Bowl staff, the Republican National Convention and its staff, and the Secret Service staff for two presidents. I also worked directly with two World Police and Fire Games events, in both San Diego and Adelaide, Australia. I worked in conjunction with Junior Seau and Ladainian Tomlinson on events supporting their foundations and sat on the board of Terrell Davis’ Foundation. I have helped coordinate large-scale local events such as the San Diego Rock n Roll Marathon, Comic-Con, ShamRock festival, Pacific Islanders Festival (PIFA), the OB (Ocean Beach) Street fair and several popular Street Scene events, as well as working directly with officials from the San Diego Zoo and Anheuser Busch Sea World.

I have fulfilled many roles as a community advocate, social entrepreneur, and special events coordinator. I attended San Diego State University and was awarded a Certificate of Completion in Project Management where I studied models and worked to develop a complete “social enterprise” business plan — before it even had a name! As a Social Entrepreneur, I created GLOBO Universal (Genuine Love of Our Brothers and Others) and formed a successful clothing line, GLOBOGear to promote unity, working directly with manufacturers from China, Korea, Thailand, India, the U.K., Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and Africa. I helped to found the movement and clothing line Eracism, defined as “the removal from existence of the belief that one race is superior to another.” I have developed and implemented several projects for social impact and managed eco-friendly programs, including Green Up California and Waste Free America.

I served as a Little League coach in the community for several years and as a community organizer for many events through church, coordinating high school reunion committees, for the San Diego State Alumni Association, and the San Diego Fire Department. Currently, I serve with my wife as Directors of the MERCYworldwide benevolent program of the Greater San Diego International Christian Church that provides relief to youth around the world.

Years after my military service on the Midway, I served on the board and was selected as one of 3 individuals to speak before the San Diego Coastal Commission to bring my beloved USS Midway to our hometown of San Diego as a museum after a 12 year fight. I am a lifetime member of the USS Midway Association, the American Legion, and the Veterans to Veterans Organization among others. In 2019, I proudly and humbly accepted the honor of being selected Veteran of the Year in the 79th Congressional Assembly District, Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber, Ph.D.

I am an honored member of SEA Alliance (Social Enterprise Alliance) Pave-A-Path program and completed the SEA Alliance Business Model Validation Impact Lab professional development course in Nashville in June, 2018. I continue to grow and further my education as a subject matter expert in Social Enterprise through certificate courses such as Social Entrepreneurship Boot Camp Certification, 2019, with the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Center for Social Innovation, and at Bunker Labs. I am currently enrolled in a program of study at UCSD in Fundraising Development.

H3 Heroes Helping Heroes 4Life is a community grassroots organization and the culmination of many years of real world experience and training which, along with personal challenges and life lessons, have brought me to the work I do today to fulfill my vision of helping others through Genuine Goodwill.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Along my journey as a Sailor and Firefighter, I have been witness to many tragedies and experienced my own struggle with trauma, both physical and mental. While aboard the USS Midway in 1980, the Panamanian merchant ship, Cactus, collided with the boat, killing and injuring several sailors, damaging aircraft, and threatening an explosion on board from liquid oxygen tanks. I was compelled to help and was the first to run to the scene and pick up a firehose, thereby effectively saving the boat and preventing many lives from being lost. This was a trauma of the first order which I did not perceive as such until many years later.

Throughout my career as a 1st Responder, I experienced first-hand many life-threatening scenarios, the most significant being the San Ysidro McDonald’s Massacre in 1984, one of my first calls as a rookie firefighter. It was the largest mass shooting in the country at the time; 21 people lost their lives, including children, babies, and a pregnant woman. These images remain forever etched in my mind. Many recent public tragedies of fires and mass shootings continue to be a trigger.

With the accumulation of tragedies and numerous on-the-job injuries resulting in 19 surgeries, I was sadly forced into ending my career, unknowingly suffering from continuous trauma from PTSD, on top of chronic physical pain.

Through my journey, the sacrifices of behavioral and physical health took a toll on me emotionally and spiritually. I became indigent and homeless. I went through two failed marriages and the loss of my 5 children and several grandchildren. The pain became great enough to cause me to consider ending it all, as so many Veterans and 1st Responders have tragically succeeded in doing.

Yet through the pain and tremendous struggle, I have prevailed by seeing myself NOT as a victim, but as a Hero. Along my healing journey, I have been blessed to successfully complete a 4 month inpatient PTSD program at Menlo Park VA and Stanford University, a 2 year aftercare program with Veterans Housing, San Jose, CA, and various PTSD research programs at Stanford University. With my completion of a recent program at University of Utah , I feel my PTSD was completely healed. I no longer suffer from PTSD but live in PTG ~ Post-Traumatic Growth. I advocate for Peer Support Training programs for all 1st Responders.

I am now dedicated to my life’s mission to NOT allow another Hero and his or her family go through what I and my family have been through.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
H3 Heroes Helping Heroes 4Life is a grassroots Social Enterprise that helps Homeless Veterans and their families reclaim DIGNITY by offering a “hand up” through solutions for Behavioral‌ ‌Health, Suicide and Homelessness.

Our Vision is to ignite a sense of purpose, champion success and drive measurable results to homeless veterans of the US Armed Forces and their families. Through education, targeted fundraising, and serving the community as one, H3 aims to improve the overall health and restore a sense of dignity to our veterans living in unfavorable circumstances.

As a military dependent AND a Veteran I am keenly aware of the plight of Veteran homelessness in America. The Coronavirus pandemic has caused a tremendous swell in the nation’s number of unhoused people and sadly Veterans are at even greater risk of being homeless than others. Unfortunately, many are not aware of or do not know how to access the services they are entitled to and we have found they get mixed in with the non-Veteran population.

Our goal is to FIND the Veterans and their Families who have found themselves in humbling circumstances and restore their DIGNITY with a hand up to their service connected benefits. We want to get ALL 100,000 off the streets FOR GOOD and help them become assets to society once again.

H3 has designed the first of it’s kind in the nation, H3 Rolling Stand Down(TM). While the Stand Down is an annual event that helps homeless and unhoused Veterans and their families get connected to services, we propose an EXTENSION to deliver a 4Life~line(TM) to help and hope not just 3 days of the year but the other 362 as well!

The H3 Rolling Stand Down(TM) program solves vital needs for Homeless Veterans and their Families by providing:

* Mobile Hygiene Units with showers, toilets and handwashing stations
* “Chow trucks” staffed and run by veterans who have come off the streets to be trained
* Resource Centers with medical, legal, employment, wellness, and benefits help for Veterans and their Families
* Popup Care Villages with haircuts, clothing, toiletries and COVID-19 vaccinations and rapid response testing

We are partnered with nonprofits Lava MaeX through their replication system of over 270 mobile hygiene programs around the globe and local nonprofit Hugs and Bags to deliver the Rolling Stand Down(TM) to both Veterans and non Veterans in underserved and vulnerable communities. We are now engaging with City and County agencies and community organizations and nonprofits to deliver mobile shower operations 6 days a week.

Our Chow truck will not only feed Veterans, but offer vets jobs and training in culinary arts, AND fundraise at Special Events and PopUp Restaurant locations through regular service throughout the week.

As a Social Enterprise we raise funds to support our nonprofit programs through enterprising projects that deliver goods and services, such as our United We Band~United We Stand(TM) custom apparel and accessories, special events, and waste free community programs and E-commerce products. We enlist the support of consumers, businesses, and organizations including American Legion and VFW to Join Forces in support of our Heroes and their Families who sacrificed for us.

Plans for future programs include building International Orphanages as opportunities for family and community bonding, publishing books and film documentaries, establishing charter schools for Social Justice and Social Enterprise, and the establishment of a Heroes Incubator for Veteran entrepreneurs in H3 Tiny Homes Veterans Villages where we will provide Rehabilitation services for health and wellness using Chinese medicine and alternative therapies, as well as job and skills training in a variety of industries working toward social entrepreneurship.

H3 is committed to ongoing community support for our Active Duty service members and their families in San Diego, especially those who have deployed for months at a time. We know what it’s like to have a family member away in service and we actively support and encourage those that are caring for families at home by sponsoring events such as Turkey and Toy Giveaways for the holidays, Backpack and School Supply drives, and other family activities.

We also hold other community special events to raise funds and awareness such as Red Cross Blood Drives, music events, and Paddle Outs to honor our fallen Veterans and 1st Responders.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
WE BELIEVE…All our nation’s Veterans deserve our Gratitude for their sacrifice. They deserve honor and DIGNITY. We believe it’s SHAMEFUL that our Heroes are left behind. WE ALSO BELIEVE Americans and especially other Veterans feel the same way too!

Our mission is one of Genuine Goodwill and a desire to provide a 4Life~line to our Heroes FROM the community THROUGH our 4Life products and services TO the Veteran and his or her Family on the Street.

We are veteran-owned and supported with a heart to helping military families because we were them. My business partner and I grew up as military families who were raised to be part of a multi-colored, interwoven tapestry of community.

Through my life’s journey, I have been blessed to give back to my community ~ only because of faith, hope, and love ~ in a tireless effort to bring hope and healing to as many Veterans, 1st Responders, and Families as I possibly can.
My life’s work is guided by the belief that we as human beings are more alike than different and we should treat each other as such.

Contact Info:

 
Image Credits:

Moments of Your Life Photography

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