When the two planes struck the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Joshua Trejo was sitting at home with his grandfather. He remembers the feelings of anger, confusion and sadness that followed. He remembers the helplessness his grandfather felt as he watched the events unfold. And he remembers that in that moment, he decided he had to do something—he was going to join the Airforce and fight for his country.
“Growing up, I didn’t have a father figure in my life and my mother worked two jobs just to provide for our family. I didn’t have a lot of guidance, and my grandfather became that person I latched onto. He had a huge impact on my life,” Trejo recalls. “He was the one who taught me how to be a good man, a good husband and a good father. Joining the military was something I had to do for my grandfather.”
Trejo spent six years in the military. During that time, he slowly developed an extensive knowledge of the heavy equipment his team frequently operated, and his role eventually evolved into training new troops on the mechanics. This experience stemmed a deep appreciation for teaching, and as his days in the Air Force came to an end, he decided he would return home and become a teacher.
“I wanted to teach math in high school. I wanted to be a role model to kids. I wanted to be that positive experience in their lives, just as my grandfather had been for me,” Trejo said. “I just didn’t know how to make that happen after being away for so many years.”
As veterans like Trejo return home, they face numerous obstacles when transitioning back into civilian life, including finding a career. That’s why, in 2013, Sport Clips partnered with the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) to introduce the “Sport Clips Help A Hero Scholarship” program. By providing scholarships for use at post-secondary schools, their goal is to support the country’s armed forces by making the transition from military life to the civilian workplace a little easier. To date, Sport Clips has helped provide almost $1.2 million in scholarships to active-duty service members and veterans. Each scholarship is $5,000, and every semester there are multiple recipients.
“Each of our recipients shares a common unifier: The desire to succeed—for themselves, their families and their country. But where they differ is in their career paths—we have recipients pursuing careers in fields such as medical, education, culinary, technology, and many more,” said Margaret Briscoe, the corporate communications manager for Sport Clips. “Sport Clips is committed to providing support to our nation’s heroes as they return from military duty and move on to the next chapter of their lives, and our scholarship program is just one of the ways we say ‘thank you for your service.’”
Sport Clips first partnered with the VFW back in 2007 to raise funds to provide free phone calls home to hospitalized and overseas U.S. service members—an effort that has helped make possible more than 2.5 million calls home, and counting. In 2013, they decided to shift their “Help A Hero” fundraising focus, and began supporting veterans who were making their way back home. All of Sport Clips’ more than 1,400 locations participate in the company’s “Help A Hero” fundraiser, often involving the entire community with bake sales, silent auctions, and other activities to raise funds. During this year’s fundraiser, which ends on November 11th, Veterans Day, the company hopes to raise $750,000 to put toward scholarships.
“It’s nice to know there are organizations out there like Sport Clips who help veterans. They have made life a lot easier, taking the stress out of my transition,” Trejo said. “To be a recipient of this scholarship means one thing to me: Security—for myself, for my wife and for my kid. It’s a huge blessing.”