One of our goals in 2016 was to do a “makeover” to our online presence for our VA disability outlets. This includes this blog, and our main website, fight4vets.com. One of the crucial aspects of this redesign involved having more of a military presence. This meant we needed imagery of a person in uniform. Most places will simply go to a stock photography website, purchase some generic pics of a person in uniform, and blend into the background like so many other websites. We didn’t create one of the best VA disability blogs just to look like everyone else. In fact, it is extremely rare that we use any stock photography in any post. It’s not authentic, and it takes away from the story we are trying to tell. In the past our firm’s IT Specialist stepped up to help us out. Alex is a former Marine who loves to get his picture taken. He’s always done a great job for us, but Alex recently started an intensive workout routine that made him much healthier, but unfortunately for us, meant he couldn’t fit in his uniform now. We have another Veteran on staff, John Hicks, who served in the Army recently. However, he recently moved from his home state of Mississippi, and left his uniforms with his mother for safe keeping. So, my favorite Marine and Soldier were both unavailable…I had to turn to the Air Force.
Luckily, many of our employees are passionate about the military, and several team members married people who are serving in the military. The first person who came to mind was one of our social security staff members, Tricia Watkins. I remembered from one of our Veterans Day tributes that she had mentioned her husband was in the Air Force, and still serving. I approached her and had her ask her husband to participate. He said yes, and now he’s all over our website, blog and miscellaneous promotions. I am not quite sure he knew what he was getting himself into when he agreed to be my “model,” but I am glad he did.
I wanted to take an opportunity to give you some information about the person most of you will see when you read one of our blog posts. First of all, his name is Jason Watkins, and he is a member of the Air Force Reserves. Jason and Tricia recently transferred from Parkersburg, WV to Charlotte, NC. I asked Tricia to tell me a little about Jason for our blog. She first stated that he was originally from Marietta, Ohio. Honestly, if I would have known that beforehand, I would have found someone else. I am of course kidding, but the West Virginia/Ohio rivalry is well established, and I couldn’t resist a jab at a “Buckeye.” Tricia also told me that Jason is 29 years old and has an associate’s degree in business administration. He hopes to return to school to get his bachelor’s degree once things settle down. Together Jason and Tricia have two sons, Kaleb who is 4 and Ian who is 2. Tricia stated that they are actually approaching their 6 year wedding anniversary in October.
I asked what Jason likes to do on his spare time, and what I found almost made me hire another person to the face of our VA business. She said that he is a Cleveland Browns fan. That was incredibly disappointing. As a Texans fan, I could not believe I had photographed a Browns fan for my blog. Jason is lucky that he is photogenic and everything had already been published. (Always do your research.) Once again, I am kidding. I care more about the uniform he wears then the one he is a fan of. Jason also enjoys fishing and spending time with his family.
When it comes to his military service, Jason joined the Air Force to not only serve our country but to get the training and experience he needs for his military job as a fire fighter. Jason would love to be a civilian fire fighter too.
Using a real Veteran or active duty service member brings some authenticity to our blog. This log is successful because we tell stories, real stories, about VA disability. It just makes the most sense to me to have a real Veteran, in this case, an Airman, be the face of the blog.
Since our photoshoot last October, Jason’s image has been used in a bunch of posters and Facebook ads to promote our Veterans Week, he is on the homepage of our blog and fight4vets.com, and he’s even the current header on our Twitter page. I doubt if Jason thought about being a model when he joined the Air Force, but now he has an interesting story to tell his friends.