GOODLETTSVILLE, Tenn. — Dollar General is partnering with Procter & Gamble to celebrate soldiers who make a difference in their communities after returning from service, as part of its Every Day Heroes program. The company will feature decorated veteran Sparky Edwards in its national campaign.
“Sparky exemplifies the Dollar General Every Day Hero, not just through his bravery and military service, but through his commitment to community,” said Todd Vasos, Dollar General’s EVP and CMO. “Through his perseverance in the face of adversity and his enduring commitment to family, education and volunteerism, he is the embodiment of what it means to be an Every Day Hero.”
Once an at-risk teenager, Edwards turned his life around with the help of the Thunderbird Youth Academy, one of the National Guard’s 34 Youth Challenge academies. The rigorous program helped him earn his GED and prepared him to enter the military where he served tours of duty in South Korea and Iraq. Today, Edwards is a successful business owner, husband and father and is pursuing his Ph.D. He credits TYA with saving his life.
“I went from being on track for a jail cell to being a decorated war veteran, business owner, former senior federal government employee and soon-to-be Dr. Sparky D. Edwards,” Edwards said.
According to Edwards, TYA also taught him the importance of volunteer work. Today, he continues to volunteer with organizations working with at-risk youth and is currently mentoring young people through the National Guard Youth Challenge Program in Northern Virginia.
“We offer a second chance for at-risk youth,” said Gen. Craig McKinley (ret.), chairman, board of directors, National Guard Youth Foundation. “These are kids who are struggling in school and making poor choices. They look up to Edwards as a role model and proof that you can turn your life around.”
Dollar General won the 2011 Military Officers Association of America Distinguished Service Award, was recognized in GI Jobs magazine’s list of Most Military Friendly Employers and participates in Paychecks for Patriots, a proactive hiring initiative that helps resolve the challenges of veteran unemployment. Additionally, in 2010, Dollar General received the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, which is the highest recognition given by the U.S. Government to employers for their support of employees who serve in the guard and reserve.
Dollar General operates more than 10,000 stores in 40 states, and carries brands from Procter & Gamble, Kimberly-Clark, Unilever, Kellogg's, General Mills, Nabisco, Hanes, PepsiCo and Coca-Cola.