Purple Heart Recipient Who Partnered With JuJu Smith-Schuster To Create Custom Cleats Shares Powerful Insight On Veterans’ Needs
For week 13 of the NFL season, the league allowed players to wear customized cleats to spread awareness for causes or charities that are near and dear to players’ hearts. The campaign, dubbed My Cause My Cleats, not only pulled the curtain back on the off-the-field initiatives of various NFL players, but also highlighted a bunch of awesome people and organizations fighting the good fight.
Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes showcased custom cleats to honor Team Luke Hope for Minds, a charity set up to support children who’ve suffered brain injuries. Bears’ defensive beast Khalil Mack wore cleats that promoted The Lupus Foundation of America. Tom Brady championed his long-standing relationship with Best Buddies, a nonprofit that creates opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
BroBible was given the honor of getting close and personal with JuJu Smith-Schuster’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign cause. The 22-year-old star receiver represented the Call of Duty Endowment during his last Sunday’s game against the Chargers. The Endowment helps veterans find high-quality jobs after their service.
JuJu partnered with renowned sneaker artist Kickasso as well as a Purple Heart recipient and Endowment beneficiary, Myron Ellis, to create custom cleats and gloves that tell the story of JuJu and Myron coming together to spotlight the Endowment’s mission and celebrate the heroism of our veterans.
Check out the finished product. The right cleat represents Myron’s story, and the left cleat JuJu’s. Every element of the design echoes an important part or moment in their lives. Dope times a billon.
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This is something that’s really special to me. It’s an honor to team up with the Call of Duty Endowment, @k_o.brand_kickasso and inspiring Purple Heart recipient Myron Ellis, as we all push for more high-quality jobs for veterans. Check out the story of how we came together to honor Myron’s service through the design of these unique cleats on @ESPNNFL’s NFL Countdown this Sunday, Dec. 2. #mycausemycleats #CallofDutyPartner
We spoke with Myron about his illustrious military career, the road blocks veterans face upon returning home from service, his experience spending time with one of the most electric receivers in the game.
BroBible: Provide a little background on your tenure with the Marines.
Myron: I served 11 years 2 months and 15 days in the United States Marine Corps. My MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) was 0 8 11 field artillery. I was deployed 6 times, with 4 being combat (2 to Iraq and 2 to Afghanistan). I was stationed in Jacksonville North Carolina, Kaneohe Bay Hawaii, and Norfolk Virginia. I was medically retired due to injury stained from an IED blast in Afghanistan on May 30th 2015. My injury occurred October 11, 2011.
BroBible: Speak a bit about the Call of Duty Endowment and how it came to materialize for you.
I work with an organization that the Call of Duty Endowment funds called CASY – Corporate America Supports You. CASY helps veterans find high-quality employment through resume building, resume critique, mock interviews, and job searching. The Call of Duty Endowment partnered with JuJu Smith-Schuster, who wanted to honor the military in a different way, by having a veteran tell their story on his cleats for the My Cause, My Cleats program. The Call of Duty Endowment reached out to CASY, who reached out to me and ask if I would be interested in being a part of this endeavor. I, of course, said yes.
When veterans come back home, what unforeseen challenges do they face transitioning into the workforce? What resources are available to them and what resources do they need that currently aren’t?
Veterans face a language barrier when they come back and try to transition into the workforce. By that I mean, having to get rid of all those military acronyms and just getting acclimated to communicating in a civilian setting again. Veterans also face a knowledge-to-skills barrier. Veterans may have the skills to perform the work; however, they are lacking the “civilian” knowledge set that is necessary for that job. In a lot of cases, once the veteran gets that knowledge, their skills become outdated.
There are a number resources that are available to veterans to help them overcome these obstacles and find high-quality employment. While in school veterans can use VocRehab. This program helps veterans gets the resources and the supplies necessary to successfully complete their courses. There are also organizations like the Wounded Warrior Program, Call of Duty Endowment, CASY, and Veteran’s Place (in Pittsburgh) to name a few that help veterans find employment.
JuJu is a character on the field, how is his temperament off it?
JuJu is a real chill and mellow guy, from the time I spent with him at the interview and off the field.
Myron added that he will be having a third surgery on his injured right ankle on December 17th, and urged us to keep him in your prayers.
I think I speak for many of us when I say it’s the least we could do.