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Who is 5/20 Brotherhood?
5/20 Brotherhood (founded in 2015) actually started as OIF/OEF Aid Group back in 2010 by Richard and Tonya Watson. They wanted to start a 100% volunteer organization to help wounded Veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. When Richard was hurt in 2007 they were forced to turn to non-profit organizations, like this one, for help with the financial burden they faced after losing Tonya's income. After seeing what those organizations were paying their board members they decided they wanted to change the way things were being done and donate everything they received back to those in need.
OIF/OEF Aid Group did several different fund-raisers over the years that followed. Perhaps their biggest event happened in 2012 in Anchorage, Alaska. They coordinated with the Warrior Transition Unit on Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson and sponsored the Christmas 4 Heroes Project. They adopted 41 Wounded Warriors and their families and through a lot of community support were able to provide a full Christmas, including Christmas dinner, to all 41 families.
"If I could raise enough, I'd buy a huge chunk of land, build
a hundred homes and call y'all up and have everyone close
by. But we are at every corner of the country now so we have to
be able to reach all our guys, and do what we can. I know
often times guys like us won't ask for help, that's why we keep our
focus on our pals, their families and be there when they need
us. It's going to take time, and trust me brother, you show up
at an old buddy's house, two days before Christmas and unload
a moving truck of gifts and toys, and six months worth of groceries.
Nothing fills your heart more, now imagine doing that for 41 families
at the same time... That's what we did here in 2012, all wounded
living on post, no more combat pay, wives forced to quit work to
take care of them; I have never been hugged by so many people
before. It was the most amazing feeling, to have a city of 350,000
stand up and stand behind our mission to ensure these guys an
gals never fell through the cracks.," says Richard Watson.
The hardest thing that Richard and Tonya face now is trying to figure out how they can take care of every Tweezy brother, his wife, and his children in every way they can.
After MAJ Christopher Franco passed away and they learned about little Andrew Curtis' (son of Rob Curtis) fight with cancer, they knew they had to step in and do something. Jeremy Ledlow and Craig Palmer reached out and wanted to lend a hand and help spread the word. Richard and Tonya decided at that point to re-purpose their state level 501(c)3 non-profit, with the help of their non-profit attorney, they began the process of becoming a federal level 501(c)3 capable of reaching out to the 5/20 Brotherhood and their families where ever they may be, and never leave them behind.
22 Veterans suicides per day, those are scary numbers, Richard and Tonya will do everything in their power to make certain one of those Veterans isn't one of their own.
There are a lot of 5/20 Brothers out there, but one way or another they will take care of each other, even when our country forgets. Richard admits "There are dark days, but this unit became a legend with its uncommon valor and more heart that I've ever known. I will take every opportunity to do whatever I can to make this a success."