The Green Beret Foundation is the only benevolent organization accredited by the VA to serve America’s elite Army Special Forces. Standing in the wings supporting its mission are some pretty tough women, made of steel.
Anna Richardson is a veteran soldier in her own right with a background as a behavioral health specialist and proudly serves on the GBF team as its Programs and Services Manager. So where did her passion for these war fighters and their families begin? Well, it all started with a meet-cute at a faraway place called Fort Campbell.
“While I was out there standing up a program I met him while we were all out one night. We continued spending time together,” she said.
Though Richardson had to return to her unit in Georgia, the pair dated long-distance for a year. At that point she had already made the decision to leave the military. Not long after hanging up her uniform she moved to Kentucky and few months later, they were married.
“And 12 years later we’re still married. Success,” she laughed. “But during that time, I was navigating what the life of a Green Beret spouse was and then also what the life of a mother to kids of a Green Beret is like as well,” Richardson explained. “I had the fortunate opportunity to work with the fabulous ladies at 5th Special Forces Group to start up the Fort Campbell chapter for the Steel Mags.”
According to its website, the Steel Mags Sisterhood is a national group established by the GBF, with the goal of addressing the unique needs of qualifying female family members of United States Army Special Forces soldiers. Their initiatives range from camaraderie, support, education, philanthropy and a little fun – event planning.
As for the GBF, it’s lasered in on providing emergency, immediate and ongoing support for all generations of Green Berets and their families.
“Doing the event planning, it is just so much fun. And then really, I love it now with my role at GBF to be able to tell our donors face to face, I know what your money is doing and how many families it’s impacting,” Richardson explained.
It’s more than a job or volunteer opportunity for her. “Green Berets are amazing in terms of their physical and mental strength, but that doesn’t make them immune to physical and mental trauma,” she shared. “They are superheroes in some capacity, but they’re human. “They’re regular people with real lives who are capable of extraordinary things. But they’re still at their core, a person. And that means that they deal with everything that everybody else does. And some of those things are amplified because of their job, because of the things that they have to witness, it’s not a choice.”
Richardson described the barriers of Green Berets asking for help from organizations like GBF and how it’s usually always the same response: my brother needs it more.
“We’re working hard to change the narrative that there is plenty of help for everyone and that their power of being so humble, the power of being so quiet, can be so detrimental to oneself and their family,” she shared.
The Steel Mags work to overcome these barriers by hosting Q&A’s with families and teams. They also utilize events for educational opportunities. One of her partners in crime and fellow Steel Mag, Katie Frame, called her one night in 2021 with a “crazy” event idea.
Rock the Green Beret was born.
Retired Green Beret and lead ambassador for the GBF, Travis Wilson, joined in to help plan the event. Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic would force them to make it online for their first go around, the 2022 event is in-person and bigger than ever. “This year we have the privilege of doing it at Kid Rock’s Honky Tonk in downtown Nashville. They were so quick to sign on and support it. We’re going to pack the house,” she added.
Attendees will be treated to live performances by professional artists, many of whom are veterans. The event will offer unique merchandise and auctions, with all fundraising efforts getting poured right back into the GBF to support Green Berets and their families.
“There’s so much awareness in an event, not all events are just for making money. Some are just, ‘Hey, we’re here, ask for help.’ Then they generate all these requests for support,” Richardson explained. “ I go into all events with the goal of expanding awareness of the Green Beret Foundation, who we are, what we do, and how to utilize us.”
Rock the Green Beret may be a private event but it is open to civilians and takes place during Veterans Day Weekend, giving people a true opportunity to “thank” these warriors for serving.
“I see every ticket sale as an indication that somebody cares about the veteran and somebody cares about the family of the veteran,” she shared. “We’re going to get people out there to listen to these veterans who are telling their stories through music and other professional musicians who believe in the cause and want to be of support to us.”
To snag your ticket to what is sure to be the Veterans Day Weekend event to be at, click here.