Committed to Giving Back

Cover Feature
Committed to Giving Back
The Lone Survivor Foundation and Elite Transportation Systems, Inc.
By Doug Mellum

I worked in the delivery industry for many years before founding Elite Transportation Systems, Inc. in 2000. Through those years I’ve experienced the many ups and downs associated with the business; the driver shortages and cyclical flow of customers and business, and the continuously changing business environment from “on-demand” to “last mile.”

Through it all, my colleagues and I persevered. But in 2017, something changed. I wanted to use Elite  Transportation Services to help give back to an important cause.

I grew up in a home with a father who was a World War II United States Navy veteran. During my father’s service, he was on three ships that sunk or suffered major damage. My dad’s war experiences caused him to suffer from what today would be called PTSD. I always thought if I could somehow give back to our returning veterans, it would be a privilege.

Therefore, I looked for, and found, an organization that I could feel comfortable supporting. Thankfully, I found a great organization: the Lone Survivor Foundation (LSF).

Serving America’s veterans

America’s veterans are disciplined, service-oriented members of society who are capable of thriving at home and in business. Unfortunately, combat and traumatic military service can take its toll on the health of our service members and their families. The Lone Survivor Foundation is on a mission to restore, empower, and renew hope to these valued members of our community and help them achieve their full potential.

Post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, traumatic brain injury, military sexual trauma, and care partner stress are issues that are invisible on the surface. However, if these very real conditions that plague many of America’s veterans are treated improperly, they can reduce a person’s quality of life, or become debilitating.

Because of the complexity of these wounds, not all individuals respond to the standard government treatment plan of talk therapy and medication. That’s why it’s so crucial that the Lone Survivor Foundation offers another option.

The Lone Survivor Foundation’s treatment plan

The Lone Survivor Foundation was founded in 2010 by Retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, author of the New York Times best-seller “Lone Survivor.” The book was later adapted into a film of the same title starring Mark Wahlberg.

Marcus knows first-hand what it takes to begin the recovery process and felt the best way to honor his brothers lost in Operation Red Wings was to help the veteran community get the care they deserve. The foundation he formed serves veterans nationwide from its Crystal Beach, Texas retreat facility. In 2017, LSF held 38 retreats serving over 300 participants. 

The foundation provides a succession of no-cost therapeutic retreats to service members—active duty and veterans—and their families. A retreat’s travel expenses are provided free of charge, too.

The importance of treatment and getting away

The foundation’s program is designed to provide education, stress reduction, and coping skills that can be put into practice immediately. Retreats also expose participants to several cutting-edge therapy modalities that are proven highly effective in the treatment of invisible wounds.

Under the care of mental health providers, participants use tools, such as equine-assisted therapy, neurofeedback, trauma-sensitive yoga, creative arts therapy, and accelerated resolution therapy (ART) during a five-day retreat. 

At the retreat’s conclusion, participants discuss their experiences with their clinician and together devise a plan on how to move forward in treatment once they get home.

The program’s result help participants discover the resources necessary for them to create a plan for continued recovery; they are empowered with skills for further healing, their families become stronger, and they restore their sense of hope.

Working together

Elite Transportation Systems supports the Lone Survivor Foundation in myriad ways.

For example, our company’s dock trucks have the foundation’s logo on their hoods and its mission statement on the trucks’ fenders. Our drivers carry a brochure about the foundation they can give out if a customer or consignee asks about the logo.

We’ve made it our commitment to fund a yearly retreat at the foundation’s Texas retreat facility. So far, we’ve had the privilege of funding two retreats.

Our company also works with the foundation’s director of marketing. We were able to develop a billboard campaign in the Twin Cities—Minneapolis and St. Paul—in an attempt to bring further name recognition to the foundation. We’ve also added the foundation’s website to ours; a click will take a person directly to LSF’s site.

Also, periodically, our company does a “matching funds” drive that involves our customers. The drive raises awareness and allows people to “give back” to service members.

And this past year, my wife and I had the opportunity to visit the foundation’s retreat facility in Texas; it was an excellent experience. Being able to see, firsthand, where military members can go for support and renewed hope was terrific. From the equine arena to the yoga area—learning and seeing the methodologies used at the retreat was great.

During our visit, we also got to visit the retreat center’s “Legacy Bricks” area. These bricks can be purchased to support the foundation. Seeing these memorials—and the entire retreat area—was a touching and inspirational experience.   

About the Author

Doug Mellum is the President, Owner, and Founder of Elite Transportation Systems, Inc. Find out more about Elite Transportation Systems, Inc. at, and the Lone Survivor Foundation at