7/5/2013 – DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNS) — On April 27, 2012, Chaplain (Col.) Steven West went to Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Va., to speak about ministry; he left with a plan to change the world.
He left his office as the chaplain for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to meet with Dell Hamilton, a partner of Hamilton Means Racing LLC. Hamilton owns a team and car in NASCAR and helps provide faith-based initiatives at the races.
Hamilton and West shared a vision of linking America to verified organizations that provide needed support to active duty, guard, reserve, veterans and their families. Motivated by this goal, they co-founded the Support Military Foundation.
SMF helps charitable organizations maximize their abilities to assist the military.
“Our main purpose isn’t to actually take care of a group,” said West. “We are the ones overseeing to make sure the military members receive the assistance they need. This is led by military members to better serve the people.”
West has seen all aspects of the military. He has been in the guard, the reserves and on active duty as both enlisted and officer. He enjoys educating business leaders about the military.
“I was able to reach out to businesses and help them understand the military and how SMF helps,” said West.
Kathleen Frantz, Katy’s Goodness proprietor, said SMF works with organizations to provide a gateway and validations to ensure that veteran support organizations are doing what they say.
“SMF becomes a go-to for people who want to learn more about providing help to the military and veteran communities with organizations that can be trusted,” said Frantz.
SMF’s main goals are to give Americans a place to find quality military support organizations, a method to get involved through social networks and a cause to rally around through the “Behind the Camo” awareness and involvement program.
“Our ‘Behind the Camo’ program is designed to be the ‘Pink’ (breast cancer awareness) of the military,” said Hamilton. “In other words, if you wear our ‘Camo’ we want you to know it reflects your support of the military.”
Hamilton said West has taught him more about the military in the last year than he has learned in his entire life. He is impressed by West’s dedication to the SMF.
“My father and uncles were all in the Korean War,” said Hamilton. “I have a deep love for the military and know they are why I have my freedom.”
Frantz said the SMF is a continuation of West’s life’s work and service he has already provided.
“West is an educated, experienced pastor that has spent a large portion of his life dedicated to serving our country,” said Frantz. “He also serves to inspire, support and make a difference to many of our troops in times of difficulty, strength and awareness.”
Hamilton said he and West have a unique opportunity to use NASCAR to help get their message out to the public.
“I have been involved in NASCAR for eight years,” said Hamilton. “NASCAR boasts some of the most patriotic fans you will ever find and that is why we chose to use NASCAR as our platform to promote our ‘Behind the Camo’ program.”