16 Years Ago Today...

16 years ago today I got angry. I was sitting at work, like most Americans, and learned that a plane collided into the North Tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. At first, I didn't realize exactly what this meant nor grasped the severity, and I went about my business. A few minutes later, I was informed that the second plane hit the South Tower and I went from being neutral to mad and keenly aware that this was an attack. But it was when I heard one of my coworkers running through the office to my desk gripped with fear stating "oh my God, they got the Pentagon" that's when I got scared. Soon after, I learned that a 747 Boeing was missing and unaccounted for, and knew that the plane would never land.

I turned and looked at my Location General Manager and told him that I thought that the sequence of events was the result of a man called Osama bin Laden; the man that attempted to bomb the towers in 1993. Everybody looked at me and asked "who?" a name they didn't know or remember, and it wasn't until three months later that this man's name saturated nation in every newspaper, classroom, watering hole and dinner table.

It was that moment when I realized I needed to do something, but I didn't know what. I sat and watched night after night, the war unfold. I watched our country come together, and then slowly separate. I knew that I needed to do something, but I didn't know what.

Six years ago, on August 6th, I woke to the news of the greatest loss of life in Special Operations Forces. Extortion 17 again triggered my call to action button to do something but this time I didn't know how. I figured out what I want to do, and that was to help Navy SEALs, but I didn't know how.

In September 2014, I was approached by an organization in North Carolina he wanted my help with transitioning Special Operations Forces. I immediately said "sign me up", but after three unanswered phone calls I made to get started, I never heard back. I finally figured out what I wanted to do, I knew who I wanted to help, but I put my actions to rest again knowing that at some point I was going to get where I needed to be when the universe needed me to be there. I needed to be patient. It wasn't the right time.

Then it happened, the fall of 2015 I woke realizing that I needed to help. The time has come, my skills are strong, and the call to action button was pushed and that alarm rang out.

I began by locating small volunteer opportunities in the Navy SEAL community, organizations that I donated to and contributed a great deal of my time to make a difference. Organizations I still contribute to today, but I realized it wasn't enough. I heard about a wide variety of needs from the men I served and I continued to look for other opportunities give back and help within the community. It took time and patience. This journey I was on was filled with nothing but joy.

Today, I sit at the Executive Director for Phase II, a very small organization designed to help Navy SEALs and SEAL owned businesses by providing them free business consulting. It is an effort that goes well beyond transition, and is designed to give them a strategic competitive advantage, supporting their entrepreneurial vision and aspirations. Their companies influence small business growth, adding to the economic footprints in the United States. By supporting their ambitions, it reduces the likelihood that their business is added to statistics of failed companies.

The men we serve are the responders to the events that unfolded 16 years ago today. They paved the way for a new generation of responders that provide us freedom from fear,  a sense of security at night, and peace as we go about our days far from unimaginable horrors that exist in the world. 

Join us by supporting out efforts to make a difference. Please visit us at www.phaseII.org and donate today. Your support provides us with the necessary funding to establish a stronghold for our opreations and we can be there for them when they need it. Help a nation say "thank you for your service" to the men that stood the watch.

Brenda Neckvatal