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2024 CANDOR Award Recipient

For the last few years, we have awarded a member of Operation Enduring Warrior the CANDOR award, named in honor of late OEW President Eric Schmitz. Command Sergeant Major Eric Schmitz was a respected leader in the Army and within our organization. This award serves to recognize individuals who have distinguished themselves through their leadership in support of the OEW mission and the honorees we serve.

At the 2024 gala, Team Member Jeremy Scharlow's hard work and leadership with OEW was recognized when he was awarded the CANDOR award. We asked Jeremy to share with us how OEW has impacted him. He provides a bit of his story and shares some words of motivation. Thank you for all you do to support our OEW Family, Jeremy!

"In mid-2016, I found myself facing an unimaginable ordeal when I was ambushed and shot. From that moment on, my life spiraled into a dark abyss of pain and despair. The challenges I encountered were so overwhelming that they nearly pushed me to the brink of ending my own life.

But amidst the darkness, a glimmer of hope emerged. I decided to speak out about the harrowing realities of mental health struggles, particularly among law enforcement officers like me who had been injured in the line of duty.

2018 became a pivotal year. I was tired of struggling alone, feeling like no one cared, and watching my department do nothing to assist. I began speaking out publicly about what I was experiencing on social media. As I shared, I found other injured officers experiencing the same type of pain. This made me want to speak louder and attempt to stop the horrible way we discard our injured when they are no longer deemed useful. This is how Operation Enduring Warrior found me. Members from the organization reached out, and explained they had heard my message and were ready to step up and help. I soon found myself honored by OEW and attending an event in Kuttawa Kentucky. There, I was embraced by the incredible members of the masked athlete team and experienced firsthand the unwavering support and compassion of the OEW family.

OEW didn't just support me during my darkest moments; they became my lifeline, my guiding light when I felt lost in the depths of despair. They helped me navigate the treacherous path towards healing, both physically and emotionally, reminding me with every step that I was NOT DEAD so I couldn't Quit. This became my motto. NOT DEAD, CAN'T QUIT.

As I immersed myself in their mission of honoring, empowering, and motivating injured veterans and police officers, I began to find the strength I never knew I possessed. OEW provided me with opportunities to give back, teaching me the profound healing power found in reaching out to help others.

What started as a journey of personal struggle and pain has blossomed into a story of resilience, growth, and purpose. Over my five and a half years with OEW, I've transformed from feeling utterly hopeless to proudly wearing the mask of a true athlete. And now, I've discovered a new calling where I'm raising funds for child victims of abuse and neglect.

OEW didn't perform miracles, but they empowered me to discover reserves of strength and resilience I never thought possible. They showed me that with unwavering support, dedication, and hard work, anything is achievable.

So, to all those out there battling their own demons, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are communities like OEW that will stand by you, support you, and empower you to overcome even the toughest of challenges. Your journey may be difficult, but there is hope, and there are people who will help you find your way back into the light.

In the depths of the abyss, being the light for others can help us all escape the darkness!"

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