Every now and then something comes along that you just know is special. Sometimes you know it, but you do not realize it until it actually happens.
I have been on a mission to help Veterans with my nonprofit, FreedomSystem.org, since one of my best friends from high school (who was a Marine) committed suicide. I dedicated myself to trying to help Veterans as best as I can. I work with them to help them achieve employment, work through their PTSD, teach them how to create a job resume – translating what they did in the military to actual civilian experience, and more. I try hard to help Veterans help themselves, give them a hand-up not a hand-out. The whole “teach a man to fish…” principle.
One day I was fishing for work. I came across this social media influencer and he was holding a contest. He was looking for a very specific style of art, and one which I seemed to fit the bill. So I through my ring into the hat and made my intentions known that I would like to be considered. It was a few days later that I received a notification that I had been selected to attend this private group. I created a graphic for this obscure person that already at that point had a couple hundred thousand followers, and he loved it! And I got a message from him saying that I would be his designer from that point on! I was truly ecstatic! I really did not know what to expect or what would follow, but I can tell you that I worked my butt off. I wanted to make sure that this person was getting the designs that he needed and at the right time. I stuck my nose to the grindstone and pounded out images for him. Some nights working well into the wee hours of the morning. We created about fifty designs in a little less than four months, and they were successful designs.
John Burk had pulled me out of obscurity and into a new realm of life that made me a more productive individual. John is a very successful social media influencer. More than that though he is an amazing person with a very kind heart. And if you watched “American Grit: Season 2,” on Fox, you could see that first hand. John was not just playing a character. He was being who he is. With popularity comes this awkward backlash of people that are going to hate you, or think that you are not being genuine; which also comes people trying to use your recognition for their personal gain. I have seen John go through that with several times with several different people, and I can tell you that there is a real reason for John to have trust issues with people that say they are going to help him. John, I am sure at the heart is a very trusting person. He wants to believe in people, but people are scum and they try to get things out of John that he would be willing to give, if it wasn’t his livelihood that people want from him.
John has a very soft spot for Veterans. Obviously, he is one, but more than that he has done some great work bringing attention to the people that need help, and trying to get the VA to reform. The videos that he has made to try to bring about change to the VA have all gone viral, and for good reason. The people of the world, even if they do not like violence, understand the need for care for our Veterans. And most people understand that Veterans a lot of times get the shaft when it comes to getting decent healthcare. Something promised to us Veterans. Obviously John has tried to help these Veterans with his influence as much as he can. He has raised money for different organizations, and he has been instrumental in making much needed changes to Veterans Affairs. But. The stories keep coming in.
John likes to play video games. And two of these games, probably doesn’t come to a shock to anyone: Player Unknown: Battlegrounds and World of Warcraft. His teammates and him all started talking about creating a nonprofit that would bring Veterans together. John contacted me about creating a logo. John and I were just finishing wrapping up the ITA Gear brand and this new idea came out to create a Veteran’s group that would bring Veterans together through gaming. And it was really coming together.
I had experience with building a nonprofit offered my 501(C)(3) to help get the group off of the ground. I discussed with John the ways that I went about it, and the next thing I know we are actually creating a group to help Veterans in a way that many people chastised us for. At the same time the World Health Organization said that being a gamer and playing video games is a mental health disorder. Completely ignoring the fact that the disease is not the gamer nor the games, but the addiction that can come from it. The mission from the start was different: “Bringing Veterans together through the means of games.” Being able to reach out and talk to someone at any point or time in the world because we are all across the world, different time zones makes it so that we are all able to be part of a Veteran that needs help – if they are willing to reach out to a fellow Veteran for said help.
Hence; Alpha Nerds Guild is formed! Our group is not only for Veterans, but for law enforcement officers, first responders, and others that need peer support. We will be offering Vets/LEOS/First Responders gaming consoles to stay connected with other Veterans through gaming. The caveat to that is we will supply the console, they will have to supply the connection to the internet and other networks.
The first weekend in April 2018 was the first official Alpha Nerds Guild meetup. The board is from all over the United States, and we were only missing one. But it was a fantastic time! John and Laura put us all up in their apartment and we had a good time hanging out and getting to know one another, even more than just the texting, Discord, Messenger chats that we have come accustom to. This was face-to-face and we were all great friends before, but by the end of the weekend it felt like we were all family! The meetup was at the Dallas Fan Convention and was a great time. Even for us Veterans that have problems with crowds! There were 200,000 people there!
We thank all of you that came out to meet us and spend some time with us! And to the testament of John, he is obviously the most visual person and people recognize him from his time on television, and his podcast, “All American Savage Show.” But everyone that came to talk to him he took the time to shake their hand and talk to them on an individual level. Our little meetup would try to get people who wanted to meetup with John as best as we could, and made sure that people that wanted to meet John would be given the chance.
But more than that; we had a great time! The board spent time together solidifying our friendships and making certain that we were able to get to know each other on a personal basis. Then we walked around talking nerdy things and ate dinner together. And in that time frame some of us got to meet some movie stars and they had a blast!
Here are some of our photos from our trip! If you have any photos from the trip that you would like to share send them to any one of us board members and we will make sure that you get to see them on the website and/or the NPO Facebook page, maybe both!
You have an idea for an ANG Meet-up share it in the comment selection below!