For Air Force Technical Sgt. Josh Parker, back just 24-hours from a one-year remote to Korea, it was a dream come true and the broad smile wouldn't allow him to hide his emotions. Wearing his #54 San Diego Chargers
Parker's reaction and "kid in a candy store" feeling is not uncommon for service members and one reason why USAA is involved with the League and teams like the Chargers. Military members love their football.
Parker and his family, wife Imelda and daughters Julia, Serena and Violet - ranging in age from 12 to three - were all decked out in Chargers gear waiting for the team's annual practice on a military installation - this year at MCAS Miramar Friday - and were "upgraded" from the bleachers surrounding the practice field to the VIP Pavilion by the Chargers and USAA, the official military appreciation sponsor of the team and the NFL.
My luck was I got to be the person who chose Parker along with brother-in-law - Marine GySgt Jim Skaine - who is stationed at Miramar and married to Imelda's sister.
"You made my day," Sergeant Parker said. A USAA member, He added: "When I leave the service I want to work for USAA!"
"Unbelievable," Parker's wife, added. "We're just so happy he's home and were looking forward to a great day here with the family being all together. To have this happen, is just that...unbelievable."
And, THAT, in a nutshell, is my job. Not really, but that's how others, like Parker, see it. And that's OK with me.
We often refer to the Parker experience as a "surprise and delight" moment in the marketing world, but to be honest, while I won't argue with the surprise factor, I'm not sure who actually is more delighted; the military families whom we get to "upgrade" at events such as the Chargers practice, or those of us fortunate enough to work for a company whose employees believe in its mission and commitment to serve those who serve.
The 2012 NFL season is upon us and we're looking forward to doing a whole lot more "surprising and delighting" as the season, pun intended, kicks off. I, we, hope that whether or not you've worn the uniform yourself or had a family member serve, you'll join us in our salute to service.
My mission, our mission, is to bring the NFL to the military and to have all of America join USAA is showing all those who serve and have served - including the families who support them - that you are appreciated each and every day.That's our dream come true.