To grow the charity further, he partnered with Glenn “Commander” Banton, who rapidly expanded Operation Supply Drop’s original charter. Once focused on “making fun where there is none,” Glenn, as newly-appointed executive director of the charity, instilled a vision for Operation Supply Drop to become the leading military non-profit that makes a positive change in the lives of those on active duty, veterans and their families, using video games and a strong community as central theme.
“Bringing Glenn on board and giving up the leadership position has been personally painful at times. He has the fun job of interacting with all the video game folks that I would dream of working with personally. However, his 20 years of experience mean that what would take me six months of jumbled emails takes him a fifteen-minute phone call,“ admits Stephen. “I knew that if I wanted my charity to be a true force for good in the world, the right people would need to be on board, doing the right jobs. As the founder, it was tough not being THE lone man behind Operation Supply Drop. I had to put my ego in check and let my team do their job. My reward is that Operation Supply Drop is rocketing to new heights at a dizzying rate.”Glenn assembled a board of directors comprised of well-connected industry leaders, many military veterans themselves, and grown the charity to where it is now self-sustaining and can have even greater impact. “Expansion, while still being mindful of mission creep, was a key to the wildfire growth made this past year. The care packages are amazing, but you're then a one trick pony with an overly simple story to tell,” comments Glenn, reflecting on the amazing growth the charity has enjoyed in 2014.
“By still focusing on the intersection of video games and the military, developing a firm strategy and broader base for veteran support, we have begun making our narrative more about the individual soldiers and veterans and their stories, as opposed to focusing on Operation Supply Drop,” explains Glenn. “This has helped us in partner with not only the who’s-who of the video game industry, but also mainstream corporations such as Texas-based Rent-A-Center. We are now viewed as a highly effective, preferred means for those that want to support the troops in a way that the troops actually want, and to do so without having to completely figure out how to make it happen on their own.”
“We also want to do more than just send video game care packages around the world,” explains Glenn. “As an example, HeroCrate is one veteran-founded startup that we took under our wings and mentored as part of our new, expanded charter to celebrate successful veteran-owned startups.” [Ed: See the full story on HeroCrate in this issue’s main feature on veteran-owned businesses.]
“While we are thrilled to see them succeed, we are even more excited by their ability to inspired other veterans to follow in their footsteps,” explains Glenn. “Veterans have the requisite skills, characteristics and even experience to start their own companies. Often they just don’t know how to get started and the current transition services offered when returning home leave something to be desired. We want to be the catalyst that inspires veterans to start their own businesses, aligned with their personal interests and passions, and then serve as spearhead of support for them.”