Johnathon “Shep” Shepherd wants to connect veterans to community resources to ease their transition home.
That’s why the former Marine and his wife Jessica founded Eagle OPS, a nonprofit that provides opportunities for former military members and their families to build relationships through social activities, fitness and volunteerism.
“Whether you got out yesterday, or you got out 50 years ago, we assist primarily through social activities by getting veterans together and getting them connected with the community of veterans as well as veteran support organizations in their area,” he said.
“We do anything that we possibly can to get veterans, service members and their families, out and off the couch, plugged into other veterans and other veteran support organizations in the community to find out what’s going on in their lives, how we can help them make that transition home and make it a little bit easier.”
Shepherd said he struggled greatly with his transition to civilian life, isolating from his own family at times. But after he found resources from the Veterans Administration and community organizations, he decided he wanted to help others, including his brother who was returning from five tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“When my brother came back, we immediately tried to help him as well,” he said. “And through that we found that we’re not the only ones out there who were struggling and needing some assistance, needing some guidance, needing a mentor, needing another veteran to say, ‘Hey, dude, I’ve been there. Here’s the path.’”
Shepherd said corporate partners like Williams help Eagle OPS fulfill its mission. Williams is a sponsor of the Welcome Home run held each year around Veterans Day.
That mission was important to support, both personally and through Williams’ charitable giving, said Chad Zamarin, senior vice president, Corporate Strategic Development.
“Johnathon as a service member and his wife demonstrate the challenges that some of our military families and veterans have coming back home,” he said. “And we train our military members to protect us and fight for us, but we don’t provide them with the resources and training to come home successfully in many cases.
“The work that Eagle OPS does is incredibly important,” continued Zamarin. “It’s something that I’m very passionate about. I get to see firsthand the work that they do to touch veterans, connect them with other veterans and with community members.”