Community life in the Granite State for September 9, 2019.

A group of Navy SEALs poses with Swim With A Mission co-founder Phil Taub at a Paintshoot Team Building event on July 11, 2019, at OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead.

Swimmer Cheryl Alden visits with SEAL K9 Trident after completing a 5K Swim at Swim With A Mission at Wellington State Park in Bristol New Hampshire on July 13, 2019. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at the lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Retired Navy SEAL Jason Kuhn greets young members of the crowd after a demonstration of skills by the Navy SEALs on July 13, 2019, at the Swim With A Mission fundraiser. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at the lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Renee Plummer and Gov. Chris Sununu, who led one of 19 teams that participated in the Swim With A Mission Paintshoot at OSG Paintball in C. Barnstead. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at Newfound Lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Retired Navy SEAL Dale McClellan with K9 Storm led a demonstration at Newfound Lake on July 13, 2019, before a crowd of 5,000 people during the Swim With A Mission event. A series of events in July — culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations at the lake — raised $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla., as well as veterans services efforts in New Hampshire.

Published in the New Hampshire Union Leader.

BEDFORD — The third annual Swim With a Mission event raised over $1 million for the National Navy SEAL Museum and other Veterans services in New Hampshire. The series of events took place in July, culminating with the annual swim competition and military demonstrations on Newfound Lake. This year’s events featured 30 Navy SEALs, active and retired, most who serve or served with SEAL Team 6. The SEALs were led by retired Command Master Chief Rick Kaiser and Vice Admiral Bob Harward.

Phil Taub, co-founder and chairman of the board, said, “We are humbled to have so many of America’s most accomplished warriors make the trip with their families to New Hampshire. We are already planning and working on next year’s events.”

Events included a paint shoot, with 20 companies raising over $400,000 to participate in the ultimate team building day at OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead. Kelly Ayotte, former U.S. Senator and SWAM board member, said, “OSG told us that this is the most successful fundraiser in the history of paintball tournaments and it couldn’t be for a better cause than to support our Veterans.” Whiskey and Whiskers was hosted by the Ladd Farm in Bristol, and showcased the skills of the SEALs’ canines and their handlers. The VIP Reception was a night with SEALs and their families hosted, by Meadow Wind in Hebron, raising over $350,000. Swim With a Mission at Wellington State park saw 264 swimmers swim across Newfound Lake, and raised over $100,000.

Julie Taub, co-founder, said, “It takes so many volunteers to make three days of events successful and we are so grateful for the hundreds of volunteers that put in so many hours.”

Money raised will go toward purchasing 17 elite support dogs for Veterans, starting a new equine therapy program in the Lakes Region, support for Veterans struggling with PTS and TMI, providing vouchers for fresh fruits and vegetables for New Hampshire Veterans, scholarships for children of Veterans who died in service, helping Veterans find jobs, supporting Veterans who seek to create art to help with PTS or as a new profession, and more. Swim with a Mission supports the National UDT-Navy SEAL Museum, including its K9 program and Trident House charities; Veterans Count of the Lakes Region; Children of the Fallen Patriots; Elite Meet; CreatiVets; WarPaints; Vouchers for Veterans; and a new Equine Immersion Program at Ladd farm.

Joe Graham, president of iHeartMedia New Hampshire, said, “We are very proud of the fundraising efforts this year, especially as we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Veteran’s Day this November. Veteran Organizations can submit their application and questions for 2020 financial support at our website www.swimwithamission.org.”

Published in The Laconia Daily Sun.

Paintshoot

Covered from head to toe in neon orange and yellow splotches, Gov. Chris Sununu found himself pinned down behind a makeshift bunker of tree branches to take shelter from the hailstorm of day-glow paintballs soaring across the battlefield.

“Just like a day at the State House,” said Sununu, still clutching a face shield peppered with orange paint.

While it was all fun and games, Sununu and the nearly 250 people who gathered Thursday on the grounds of OSG Paintball in Center Barnstead had come out to support the work of Swim With a Mission, a Granite State-based nonprofit dedicated to aiding organizations that help veterans.

PaintshootThe event kicked off a weekend of military-themed expositions that end with a Saturday swim across Newfound Lake. The group’s second annual Corporate Paintshoot provided area business owners and their employees with the opportunity to learn team-building tactics from 20 active and retired Navy SEALS.

The 19 corporate teams each consist of 10 members, with all of the teams earning their spots in exchange for a $25,000 donation to the organization.

After a morning of panel discussions and lectures, the teams, each led by a SEAL, got the chance to put their new skills to the test in a paintball tournament.

“It gives business owners an insight into a whole other lane that people live in as special operations guys,” said Steve Matulewicz, a retired SEAL command master chief.

Matulewicz, a Rye resident and vice president of Sig Sauer Academy, said the all-day seminar helps to equip participants with skills that are as helpful in the boardroom as they are on the battlefield.

“When I’m talking to them about how we’re going to flank, or how we’re going to have a maneuvering element, they don’t think that way. They think maybe spreadsheets, dollars and cents. So they’re hearing all of this, they’re looking at leadership, they’re looking at delegation, they’re looking at who in the group is stepping up to lead and it helps them in their businesses,” said Matulewicz.

Thanks to events like the Paintshoot, Swim With a Mission has raised $1.2 million over its first two years, and aims to surpass $1 million in donations from the 2019 Paintshoot alone.

PaintshootSome recipients of funds include Veterans Count, a charity and assistance program for veterans and military families in New England, and Trident House Charities, a respite community in Sebastian, Fla., for families of SEALS killed in the line of duty.

“We started this organization because, obviously, we’re upset about how some of our veterans are struggling to get the help that they need,” said retired SEAL Phil Taub, who founded Swim With a Mission alongside his wife Julie.

“A lot of our veterans are leaders in our community and doing very well, but too many of our veterans are struggling.”

Some of this year’s participating businesses include Manchester Harley-Davidson, Cross Insurance and Granite State Stoneworks, all of which were dedicated to snatching first place from AutoFair Automotive Group, 2018’s reigning Paintshoot champions.

“We’re very competitive,” said AutoFair President Andy Crews. “There’s a lot of people that would like to take over our reign, but there’s only one championship.”

Besides the thrill of the competition, Crews, who is a former Marine, said he sees the Paintshoot as a “win-win” that allows him to support veterans and his employees in one fell swoop.

“They do a lot of talking about teams, leadership and how to set a culture based upon positive mental attitudes, which plays into any corporation,” said Crews.

“So as much as the paintball is fun and as great as it is to raise money, the managers from my operation are getting a firsthand experience from the Navy SEALS about how to overcome obstacles and set objectives. That is added value to me.”

Crews’ sentiments were echoed by Sununu, who said the collection of bruises and welts from the day’s activities were well worth the chance to support “America’s heroes.”

“When these guys sit down and really talk about team-building and achieving a mission, it’s awesome because they do it with their lives on the line for our country overseas in the toughest of conditions,” said Sununu of the SEALS in attendance.

“If you’re going to learn anything about those types of skills, this is the group to do it with.”

By Travis R. Morin Union Leader Correspondent.