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Technical Sergeant Steve D’Amico served in the United States Air Force, with the Rhode Island National Guard, for 17 years, including 10 years of active duty, with both Air Transportation and the National Guard Counterdrug Task Force. His service included deployments in both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
After shattering his ankle in a line of duty accident and enduring years of rehabilitation and medical procedures, his military career came to end when he was medically retired — because he was “broken.”
Broken, Not Beaten.
That’s the motto of Team Broken Gear, the philanthropic arm of Broken Gear, Inc, the company D’Amico cofounded in 2014.
After retiring from the armed services, D’Amico and his cofounder, Eric Kropiwnicki, realized that many veterans and service-disabled veterans missed the camaraderie and cohesion of the military.
After attending an Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) with disabilities at the University of Connecticut, they founded Broken Gear, an apparel and promotional products company that aims to do more than just clothe and promote customers.
Broken Gear’s mission is to put service-disabled veterans and veterans to work in production, distribution, sales, marketing, and management in a corporate culture constructed to resemble a military unit.
Although still a young company, Broken Gear already is fulfilling that mission.
Eight of its ten full and part-time employees are service-disabled veterans. Its three subcontractors are veterans as well.
Proceeds from sales of Broken Gear, Inc products go to Team Broken Gear, their nonprofit, which seeks to encourage service-disabled veterans to be active in sports.
According to Kropiwnicki, Team Broken Gear was “created to empower people with disabilities to persevere through preconceived hurdles, be they physical, mental or emotional.”
In addition to being Broken Gear’s cofounder and CEO, Kropiwnicki also is service-disabled veteran.
He served 23 years in the military as an enlisted Marine, including 13 years in special operations — six years with United States Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance and seven years with Army Special Forces.
Serving in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Kropiwnicki suffered numerous injuries in the war effort and receives U.S. Veterans Administration care to this day.
Broken Gear joined Supplier Connection earlier this year and still is looking for its first procurement opportunity.
Given the firm’s well-deserved company motto — Grit, Determination, Perseverance — expect that to change soon.