America’s Future Needs You

Forbes

DON ESMOND, CONTRIBUTOR

I’m proud to be a Marine, albeit one who can’t fit comfortably into my old uniform anymore, and proud of my long association with Toyota Motor Corporation. So it was doubly rewarding to attend a recent event in our nation’s capital to both support the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation and honor Toyota’s top American executive.

Jim Lentz, Chief Executive Officer of Toyota North America, received the coveted Globe and Anchor Award from the foundation for his and the company’s longstanding support for MCSF’s higher-education scholarships to the children of Marines and Navy corpsmen with financial need or whose parent was killed or wounded while defending our nation.
Jim Lentz, Toyota North America CEO, accepts the Globe and Anchor Award from (left to right) Margaret B. Davis, president and CEO of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation;, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis USMC, deputy commandant for Aviation; and Lt. Gen. Martin R. Steele USMC (Retired), chairman of the scholarship foundation.

Jim Lentz, Toyota North America CEO, accepts the Globe and Anchor Award from (left to right) Margaret B. Davis, president and CEO of the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation;, Lt. Gen. Jon M. Davis USMC, deputy commandant for Aviation; and Lt. Gen. Martin R. Steele USMC (Retired), chairman of the scholarship foundation.

Jim comes from a family that understands the meaning of service. His dad was one of three brothers who served in World War II. One brother served in a submarine, another brother on a destroyer, and Jim’s dad enlisted in the Marine Corps at age 17 in June 1942. He was an ordinance specialist in VMTB 232 and rose to the rank of staff sergeant by the end of the war in 1945.

In accepting the award, Jim talked about his father:

Dad was a member of the ‘Red Devils,’ a torpedo bomber squadron, and saw duty at the battle of Bougainville in the South Pacific. And though he spoke little about the war when I was young, I still learned how special it was to be a Marine, not necessarily from his words, but from his actions. Not to mention the large globe and anchor tattoo on his arm.

Dad taught me the values instilled in every man and woman who wears the uniform, the same values that composed his own character, like: Honor, courage, and commitment, first to his country during the war, and later to his family and his community. And today, at the age of 90, he is still a proud Marine, and he’ll always be a Marine. And yes, to this day, whenever I see my Dad, I stand a little straighter.

That’s why I’m so proud of Toyota’s partnership with the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, which is an important part of our company’s ongoing commitment to America’s service members and their families.

The Globe and Anchor Award is presented annually to an individual or organization that has demonstrated both exceptional leadership and dedication to their community and country.

In presenting Jim with the award, the foundation’s chairman, Lt. Gen. Martin Steele, USMC (Retired), noted that “Toyota’s work on behalf of America’s service men and women is as versatile and dynamic as the troops they benefit.”
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Playing off Toyota’s slogan of “Let’s Go Places,” he said, “Toyota is truly helping our military families go places. But under the leadership of Jim Lentz, the company has made incredible commitments to America’s future as well. For more than a decade, Toyota has honored Marines by educating their children.”

Steele noted that Toyota has supported the scholarship foundation since 2004. Toyota’s initial endowment of $1.65 million has funded more than 150 scholarships to date, and last year, the company announced an additional donation of $1.35 million. The combined contribution will support up to 300 new scholarships over the next five years.

“With commitments of more than $3 million dollars to the Scholarship Foundation, the company has been a steadfast corporate partner and an impactful force in the lives of Marine families,” said Steele.

In addition, Toyota dealers across the country have joined forces to support the foundation’s Lead and Succeed Scholarship Program with an additional $1.5 million donation, making Toyota and its dealers the MCSF’s largest corporate partner.

“We often say, our scholars are supplying the front lines of America’s future with honor, courage and commitment,” he added. “On that battlefield we’re honored to have this year’s Globe and Anchor Award Recipient, Jim Lentz and Toyota, by our side.”

Toyota supports the MCSF because, like the Marines, it gets the job done. In the 2015-2016 academic year the foundation awarded 2,300 scholarships totaling $6.8 million. Approximately half the recipients are the first in their family to go to college, 45% are pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, math and health sciences; 19% are majoring in a social science and 13% in business.

The foundation also stands ready to help future generations of Marine children. Last May, six Marines of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing died in Nepal when their helicopter crashed in bad weather while distributing aid to victims of the April earthquake. Three of the six Marines had children, the youngest born shortly after the crash. The MCSF has already reached out to the families to let them know that scholarships await the children when their ready for college.

Since its founding in 1962, the MCSF has given out over 35,000 scholarships valued at nearly $100 million to the children of Marines and Navy corpsmen killed or wounded in combat or who have demonstrated financial need.

But Toyota’s commitment to our veterans and their families doesn’t end with the MCSF. Toyota also is an active participant in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program, which has conducted over 900 job fairs and helped more than 27,200 veterans and military spouses have obtained jobs.

In addition, over 58,000 service members, veterans and military spouses have used the Resume Engine that HOH and Toyota partnered to develop to help veterans input information about their military experience and have it automatically translated into civilian skills in a professional résumé they can post on the website for prospective employers to view. And more than 6,900 employers have signed up to access that pool of résumés, including over 600 Toyota dealers.

On top of that, Toyota has helped to address the needs of injured service members returning from overseas, by collaborating with Wounded Warriors, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and by donating modified vehicles to organizations that support our veterans on the local level.

With its support for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, Toyota is not only honoring the sacrifices of American service members and their families, it’s also investing in the future of the nation. I urge you as a fellow proud American to honor their service by finding and supporting the MCSF and like-minded organizations.


This article originally appeared on Forbes.com, July 13, 2015.