Despite Chris Gardner’s incredible life story, made popular by actor Will Smith in the movie “The Pursuit of Happyness,” the Chicago entrepeneur is most proud of his service in the Navy.
But he doesn’t want to hear, “Thank you for your service.” He wants to us all to back up our words with deeds.
“I think one of the first things that everyone in the country can do is to accept that the words, ‘Thank you for your service,’ will never be enough,” Gardner said. “I think all of us can look around our communities and say, ‘What can I do?’ Not, ‘well the government should do this, the city should do that, or this organization should do that.’
“There’s one thing we should all agree on and that is simple… You should not be a hero in Afghanistan and homeless in America.”
Now the owner and CEO of Chicago brokerage firm Gardner Rich & Co LLC, Gardner recently attended a homeless stand down for women Veterans at the Jesse Brown VA Medical Center in Chicago, where he presented a donation to the VA Voluntary Service at the hospital. He also committed to attending other VA homeless stand downs throughout the country in the future.