Reflecting on Warriors & Quiet Waters in 2023, three words resonate profoundly: Mission, Vision, and Values. My previous year-end letters in 2021 and 2022 discussed our forward-looking vision for WQW and our transformative agenda for our programs, aimed at elevating post-9/11 combat veterans from healing to thriving. This year marked the implementation of that vision, as we unified our mission, our vision, and our values to fulfill our foundational purpose: to empower post-9/11 combat veterans to thrive and live purpose-driven lives.
We did this through three pivotal actions in 2023: launching our flagship Program, Built for More; refreshing our brand in a way that aligned with our vision and mission; and developing a strategic plan that charts our course to fully realize our vision over the next five years.
Built for More. With the launch of Built for More, we’ve elevated our offering from a singular fly-fishing experience into a year-long transformative journey that empowers post-9/11 combat veterans to thrive. This program, crafted from stakeholder feedback and the expertise of leaders in human well-being and thriving, offers a deep dive into personal growth through nature and fly fishing, supported by a robust, evidence-based, and facilitated guided discovery program. Our evaluations indicate marked improvement in our participants’ well-being, affirming Built for More as a catalyst for resilient, connected, and purposeful living. Built for More alum Ryan Darnell, Master Sergeant, USAF recently shared the impact of Built for More on his life:
“Returning to Quiet Waters Ranch this past August to participate in Built for More had an instantaneous and deep impact on my life. Journal entries and guided discussions helped me unearth my new purpose. Those fireside dialogues in the mountains, shared with other veterans grappling with similar struggles, revealed the truth: I thought I had been saving others all these years, but I was truly attempting to rescue myself. Built for More couldn’t have come at a more pivotal time. It gifted me that epiphany, illuminating the path ahead.”
A New Brand. In July, we unveiled our new brand, which tells the story of who WQW is and what we strive to accomplish:
We believe inner strength is best found outdoors. Warriors & Quiet Waters is a purpose-driven community offering nature-based experiences designed to restore the minds, bodies, and souls of post-9/11 combat veterans. Our programs cultivate a safe and supportive environment where veterans can grow, heal, and experience deep camaraderie. Our community’s sole focus is to help each Warrior discover they were built for more. More connection. More peace. More purpose. More life. When Warriors arrive at our ranch, they begin a journey that will last a lifetime. A journey founded on courage that leads to a future built on hope. Transformed, these men and women, and their families, gain renewed confidence in their ability to move forward with resilience and succeed in every area of life.
Our new brand colors reflect the palette of the natural settings where our programming occurs, including blue water, green flora, and tan landscapes. Our new visual identity – our logo – represents the themes of thriving, growth, and military symbolism, featuring an eagle that is strong, balanced, rising, and thriving. We know our new brand will carry us into the future as it truly represents who we are and what we stand for.
Our Strategic Plan. Approved by the Board of Directors in September, our strategic plan focuses our efforts in three main areas: delivering impact, building strength, and attracting believers. Built for More is the centerpiece of our plan to deliver lasting impact to those we serve. The veteran demand for Built for More affirms this as the correct choice, with 400 veterans applying to participate in 2024 programming – four times our current capacity. We will improve on and reinforce the Built for More success we saw in 2023 by incorporating alumni feedback and continued engagement of subject matter experts. We will work to create follow-on opportunities for veterans to build on the positive momentum they gained in Built for More. Over the next five years we will increase the number of veterans we serve annually through Built for More while eventually extending its outcomes to military spouses and caregivers. The remaining two supporting focus areas of building strength and attracting believers outline key actions that will enable WQW to garner the resources and support to achieve these ambitious programmatic goals.
Developing our Strategic Plan enabled us to further refine and integrate our mission, vision, and values:
WQW empowers post-9/11 combat veterans and their loved ones to thrive and live purpose-driven lives through peak experiences in nature, meaningful relationships, and a sense of community.
Empowering veterans to thrive, lead, and inspire a stronger nation.
We envision a future where veterans not only thrive after their military service but also become pillars of progress living purpose-driven lives and fortifying the very fabric of our Nation. Through their leadership and continued service, they illuminate the honorable path of military service, kindling a flame that inspires the next generation of America’s sons and daughters to stand up and serve. In this way, our veterans not only enrich their own lives but become the cornerstone of a stronger, more resilient Nation.
Warriors First, Always: Our commitment to those we serve.
Teamwork: We are interdependent; we rely on each other to achieve a common mission greater than ourselves. Teamwork is our commitment to each other and the foundation of our approach to problem solving and pursuing opportunities.
Integrity: The foundation of our decision-making and actions.
Trust: The foundation of the relationships that make our work possible.
Nature: Our essential tool to enable growth, purpose, resiliency, and well-being.
A Growth Mindset: That enables our relentless pursuit of excellence as an infinite game.
Culture of Philanthropy: A conviction that giving and fundraising are critical to organizational health and that everyone has a role in the process.
I often say that “our people are our program.” Those people include you: our alumni, our volunteers, our donors, our ambassadors, our guides, and our staff. You are the WQW Team and we are filled with gratitude for your support as WQW continues to evolve to meet the current needs of post-9/11 combat veterans. We look forward to locking arms with you and driving forward to fully achieve our vision of the future.
Colonel, USMC (Ret.)
Chief Executive Officer