At FASTSIGNS®, our franchisees try to make a difference in the military community whenever possible. During National Military Appreciation Month, we wanted to share how one franchisee recently took time to give back in his local community.
Todd Taylor, franchisee at FASTSIGNS of Missoula, recently donated 70 “welcome home” banners to the entire brigade of soldiers in the 495th CSSB of the Montana Army National Guard returning from a 10-month mobilization and deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. The group debarked the plane in Kalispell on the evening of March 16 where they experienced overwhelming support through signage.
Taylor shared that their center recently made this a standard practice that any family who has a returning service member would get a free banner. In this particular situation, they received a call from a woman needing banners for an entire brigade. While it was out of the ordinary, Taylor was happy to accept. Once he had the brigade emblems and names, they designed and printed the 70 banners. The significant impact the banners had on the soldiers and families did not go unnoticed.
“For them, it was all of a sudden they arrived home and here were all these banners and all these people were being welcomed home,” said Taylor. “I guess it really touched a lot of people in a really special way. It touched me, because it really puts things in perspective. These people have been gone a long time.”
Taylor later received two letters of gratitude. One letter was from a soldier, LPT Jeremy Hargis, and another came from Michael L. Beck, Lieutenant Colonel, Commander 495th CSSB. The sentiment in the letters was an expression of gratitude for the work that Taylor and his FASTSIGNS team did for them.
“I was amazed to see each group of family members and friends of my deployed soldiers proudly displaying personalized welcome home signs from your company,” wrote Michael L. Beck, Lieutenant Colonel Commander, 495th CSSB. “You generosity in providing these signs, free of charge, displays support for our service members above and beyond. On behalf of my soldiers, and their family members, I would like to express a heartfelt thank you for providing us with such personalized homecomings. We all now have a keepsake to remind us of our happy reunion for years to come.”
“As one of those soldiers, it means a lot that someone would go out of their way like that,” wrote LPT Jeremy Hargis. “We do what we do for people like you, and you have my sincere gratitude.”
Taylor also has a personal connection to supporting military members. His son-in-law, who recently retired after 22 years in the Army and now works with the Wounded Warrior Project, has seen much of the difficult side of soldiers returning home and the life that they go through. Taylor also has a grandson who is in his second year in the Air Force, as well as previous family members in the service.
“I was not able to serve,” shared Taylor. “So for me, this is just a small way to say thank you to all those who do serve. It’s something that we’ll continue to do as a way of saying thanks.”