UArizona, Operation Hat Trick 'Gear Up' For Vets
The University of Arizona is again teaming with Operation Hat Trick to support military service members and veterans through the sale of military-themed merchandise.
For the third year, the University of Arizona is partnering with the national nonprofit Operation Hat Trick to support military service members and veterans through the sale of military-themed merchandise. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the merchandise, which is branded with the logos of both organizations, will benefit the Fisher House in Tucson and the University of Arizona VETS Centers.
"We're excited to partner with Operation Hat Trick and the Tucson Fisher House again, and to partner with the VETS Centers this year," said Alixe Holcomb, University of Arizona director of trademarks and licensing. "It's fulfilling to do our part to support military service members and veterans in our community, especially in a year that has been so hard on many people due to the COVID-19 pandemic."
The merchandise is available in store and online through the University of Arizona BookStores, while supplies last. Items available include hats, shirts, camouflage pants, socks and a silk throw.
The national Fisher House Foundation provides homes across the country where the families of military members and veterans can stay for free while a loved one is in the hospital. Fisher House locations provide private bedrooms and bathrooms for families, as well as a common kitchen, laundry facilities and a dining area.
Cathy Pacheco of Nogales, Arizona, says the Fisher House was "a godsend" while her husband, a U.S. Army veteran, was recovering from a series of strokes in 2018 and 2019.
"Before I found out about the Fisher House, I would sleep on chairs or recliners in my husband's room at the VA," Pacheco said. "One night, the nurse came in and said, 'Honey, what are you doing sleeping like that? You need to get over to the Fisher House.'"
Pacheco said the workers became a second family to her while her husband recovered.
"Even at night if I stayed with him until 10 p.m., the nurses would get an officer to walk me back and make sure I got in OK," Pacheco said.
This year's Operation Hat Trick merchandise includes a dual-branded hat, sales of which will benefit the University of Arizona VETS Centers. The two centers on campus provide student veterans with services such as free computer use, resource fairs, counseling and career assistance.
Manny Matias, a UArizona senior majoring in accounting, is president of the University of Arizona chapter of Student Veterans of America and says the VETS Center has been a "fantastic resource" for him and other student veterans.
"It's not easy, transitioning or just being a student in general," Matias said. "Being a 25- or 26-year-old student is even harder. You have that barrier. The VETS Center helps them overcome that barrier or ease it a little bit."
Student veterans, including Matias and Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps members, will be featured in the university's social media campaign promoting the Operation Hat Trick merchandise.
For the last two years, the University of Arizona has earned Operation Hat Trick's Excellence in Service Award, recognizing its efforts to support military service members and veterans. Dot Sheehan, the president and CEO of Operation Hat Trick, founded the nonprofit organization in New Hampshire in 2008 and launched it nationally in 2012. The organization's mission is to support the recovery of wounded service members and veterans through merchandise sales.
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