CINCINNATI – A pack of post-9/11 commemorative playing cards featuring successful veterans has brought together three enterprising vets who have more in common than ever imagined.
First there’s former U.S Marine and firefighter Zachary Green who appeared on the ten of clubs. He was lauded for founding LumAware/MN8.
“I was fighting a fire and realized that I could not see my fellow firefighters through all the smoke,” Green recalls. “That’s when I realized that firefighters and other first responders needed something on their clothes, helmets, equipment and stairwells that would continuously glow through hours of smoke and near darkness.”
Now that over 80,000 firefighters in more than 25 counties use LumAware’s products, Green has turned his focus on helping the people whom firefighters protect. His code-approved exit signs emanate (or MN8) light without the need for batteries, lightbulbs, electricity and maintenance.
They are environmentally-friendly and promote inclusion because ironically, the exit signs are manufactured by people with severe vision loss—employees at the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CABVI). It is a social enterprise non-profit.
Green realizes that his life-saving technology affects first responders as well as those in hotels, high rises, hospitals and large retail chains who have seconds to find exits due to power outages, fires and terrorist attacks. As a veteran himself, he also knows that vets need extra-special care as they transition from military to civilian life.
Enter the ace of hearts—Jason (J.J.) Pinter. A West Point graduate, Pinter was recognized as Executive Director of Red, White & Blue (RWB). The organization helps returning veterans adjust to their new lives through physical activities, social activities and community service.
Pinter knows well the challenges, physically and mentally, when they return home.
“I served as a field artillery officer in combat so I understand the adjustments our soldiers need to make,” he says. “Our staff are vets and their mission is to build community. Over 2.5 million Americans have been deployed since 2001. We deal with a variety of challenges such as Survivor’s Remorse, PTSD, physical disabilities and those who just need to get off the couch and find new meaning in their lives.”
Pinter has significant skills in his career toolbox having worked in executive positions in construction, defense and medical industries after his military discharge. The husband and father of three is home-based in Louisville, KY.
Green and Pinter met when the commemorative cards were released and the two instantly bonded. It didn’t take long for Green to decide to donate a portion of LumAware/MN8’s sales through The Home Depot Pro to Red, White and Blue.
They also discovered they had a common partner and ardent supporter in The Home Depot Pro, which, coincidently, is run by Senior Vice President Shane O’Kelly, a U.S. Army veteran.
O’Kelly sees his company’s partnerships with RWB and LumAware/MN8 as a reflection of The Home Depot Foundation’s deep commitment to improving the homes and lives of U.S. veterans through partnerships with national and local nonprofits.
“Giving back to our nation’s heroes by supporting them in their endeavors is a huge part of The Home Depot Foundation,” says O’Kelly. “We believe that LumAware’s exit signs are true game-changers for every high-rise building, hotel, arena and hospital. Many lives will be saved under unfortunate circumstances, and we’re honored to be a distributor for these remarkable signs. We also believe in what RWB is doing to close the gap between leaving the service and adjusting to ever-changing life in the U.S.”
Green hopes that his organization as well as The Home Depot Pro and The Home Depot Foundation will shine more light on the national activities of RWB.
“Every year more than 250,000 active-duty service members transition out of the military,” notes Pinter. “Our dedicated board, staff and volunteers oversee engagement activities—running, cycling, trail running and yoga. We encourage people to attend a local event and meet a vet. Hopefully people will ask the vets ‘how are you doing, what are you doing and how can I help?'”
O’Kelly’s company distributes the life-saving exit signs and honors veterans for their service, and Pinter ensures that communities embrace returning veterans. As for Green, he continues to show the world that veterans can make a profound difference in everyone’s safety.
He recently flew to Washington, D.C. to accept the Exporter of the Year Award from the U.S. Secretary of Commerce. He has also addressed Congress on safety issues and racked up awards for business growth, including the recent Innovation of the Year from a large commercial real estate entity.
Veterans are truly making an impact on the local, national and global stages. Just look at Green, O’Kelly and Pinter.
For additional information on LumAware’s life-saving technology visit www.lumawaresafety.com