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Jack Daniel kicks off Operation Ride Home fundraising with $100k donation

Jack Daniel’s Distillery and Armed Service YMCA kicked off Operation Ride Home fundraising on Veterans’ Day. (File Photo)

LYNCHBURG — For the past 10 years, Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg has made sure American service members make it home for the holidays and special occasions. In partnership with the Armed Service YMCA, they’ve raised money to offer financial assistance to active-duty, junior-enlisted military and their families to travel  from their  military bases to loved ones’ homes across the country under Operation Ride Home. On Veteran’s Day, they kicked off fundraising for the program.

A video promoting the program launched on Veteran’s Day and features locals Jason Bobo, Rae Steelman, Paul Anderson, Patrick Hill, Drew Smith, Melvin Keebler, John Hart, and Blake Fitzpatrick. They are all U.S. military veterans who now work for the distillery. They all discuss how important it is to get to come home as a junior enlisted service members and how much they appreciate the support that their company gives the military.

In the video, Smith and Bobo visit a family with a Operation Ride Home check and the film follows a family as they get to travel to see loved ones in Seattle. Bobo and Smith also all discuss how much they appreciate the support that their company gives the military. To view the video, click here.

In total, Operation Ride Home has generated more than $1.8 million in donations that have allowed 8,583 service members to spend the holiday with their families. It’s assisted servicemen and women from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard with travel to all 50 U.S. states.

This year, due to the current pandemic, travel for these heroes is on hold until the lifting of Department of Defense restrictions.  But that’s okay Jack Daniel officials say, as soon as restrictions are lifted, the program will once again focus on reconnecting as many U.S. military families as possible.

“Serving in the military is stressful enough for our heroes, but this year even more so as they and their families sacrifice for us all while waiting to see their loved ones,” said Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller Chris Fletcher. “We will be pulling out all the stops to raise awareness of Operation Ride Home, help address the tremendous financial needs our junior-enlisted face and celebrate with them when restrictions are lifted and they can visit their loved ones.  It will be a special time and one they all so deserve.”

As it has done throughout the program, Jack Daniel’s kicked off the campaign with a $100,000 donation on Veteran’s Day and is asking friends to visit operationridehome.com and contribute to help more service members make it home. Their goal is to eclipse 10,000 service members and their families who have been assisted throughout the life of the effort as well as exceed $2 million dollars in overall donations. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible.

“Having been there, I know what it’s like when you’re a young servicemember trying to provide for your family while facing financial hardship and the stress that comes with wearing the uniform,” said ASYMCA President/CEO William French. “Operation Ride Home has made a tremendous difference in so many lives and this tenth anniversary is going to be special as we work to get as many home as we possibly can.  I can’t wait to look them in the eye and let them know they’re going home.”

The ASYMCA works with the various military commands in specific areas co-located with ASYMCA branches to identify and prioritize junior-enlisted service members and families most in financial need. Plane tickets and pre-paid debit cards are given to assist those traveling. Operation Ride Home is open to active duty E-5 and below, both single and married, who might not otherwise financially be able to travel home. The option to drive or fly is an individual decision. For additional information on eligibility and to view participating installations that qualify for travel assistance, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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