Here at Sandboxx, we pride ourselves on helping to make service members successful. In fact, two of our founders are proud veterans who love supporting service members.
That’s why we felt it’s about time to give you a little background of how we came to be, and why we knew we had to start Sandboxx.
Co-founder and veteran Major General Ray Smith offers insight below.
Name: Maj. Gen. Ray Smith
Branch of Service: Marine Corps
Years of Service: 34 years
Sandboxx Title: Co-founder and board chairman
After 34 years of service, Maj. Gen. Ray Smith has done a lot.
Two Vietnam tours. Numerous deployments. Plenty of travel.
His efforts in Vietnam earned him the Navy Cross, two Silver Stars, the Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts.
Ray originally joined to dodge the draft. He figured he would get his service out-of-the-way. Turned out, he fell in love with serving. Even after a 1999 retirement, his connection to the military community remained.
Ray found himself even busier as a retiree doing military volunteer work because he hadn’t learned to say no — a military requirement ingrained in him for years. “I didn’t learn how to say no for quite a while,” he says.
He connected with numerous nonprofits, and Ray eventually found himself recruited to partake in a focus group for the Marine Corps Family Readiness organization. The USMC wanted a tool to connect families during deployments, so the Corps hired a needs analysis organization to conduct focus groups and gather real feedback.
Once the Corps gave Ray his chance to talk, he spoke his mind. If it was going to be a communication tool, it had to be done right, he told them. Shortly after, the USMC developed a tool, but it wasn’t successful. When it didn’t pan out, Ray was ready to give up on the idea.
That’s when he met Sandboxx’s other founder, Sam Meek.
Sam wasn’t about to let go of the idea. He encouraged Ray to work with him to secure funding. Once they did, the idea blossomed into a unique way to connect current and prior military members.
The same week the pair were to finalize details of the Sandboxx app, Sam heard that MotoMail, a service his family used to send him letters in Iraq, was being shut down. Sam and Ray went back to the drawing board and then added the Letters portion to the app, which is currently the most popular feature.
Now, through Sandboxx, veterans across the globe can connect to share old war stories. Families can quickly send letters from their phone to deployed loved ones and those in training, as well as book their travel to military graduations to celebrate the accomplishments of their new service member.
Looking back, Ray is glad he didn’t give up. Assisting in building a company that’s connected thousands of people is beyond what he could have ever imagined, he says.
“Sandboxx keeps me involved in that community that I love,” he says. “And, it also has given me an opportunity to pay back that community.”
Final Thoughts From Major Gen. Smith
What do you love most about the military community?
“I thought for the first 12 to 15 years that I loved the Marine Corps. As I got more senior and better understood what the Marine Corps was as a whole, I realized it wasn’t the Marine Corps I loved; it was the Marines I loved. I still love the Marines and their families.”
A word for the troops:
“I want to thank them for their service, first, and want to let them know that I love them. Secondly, I think if they check out Sandboxx, they’ll find it useful for them in many ways — not just Letters, but also for keeping in touch with the people they have served with (who they are no longer serving with), as well as keeping in touch with the other people they are serving with now.”
What do you enjoy most about Sandboxx?
“What I love most about Sandboxx is that I’m still involved with Marines and family members and other service members. I’m also more involved with the other branches now.”
Connect with us! What questions would you like our leadership to answer? Comment below!
Chris Gotcher says
Maj Gen Smith was nice enough to accept an invitation to my unit’s USMC Birthday Ball back in late 1990’s before he retired. I had his hotel room adorned with all of his and his wife’s favorite drinks and snacks. He was impressed and told my CO at our ball that he felt like he walked into his own home when they arrived at their hotel room. He loves peanut butter crackers and cookies and his drinks have to be unleaded. Still remember to this day. His wife was always fun to visit with. I remember visiting with their off-base home was finished and there was no walls. We just sat there next to the river on a slab of concrete like old friends. Hope you are doing well Gen Smith.
Denny Gillem says
General: I was just looking at Forbes Top 25 Veteran founded start-ups in America and saw your company. Like you, I served two tours in Vietnam; I’m a retired army infantryman. I’m impressed with your goal of taking care of our military community.
I host Frontlines of Freedom, a weekly, syndicated, military talk-radio show—the largest in the nation (190+ stations); we reach what I call the military-veteran-patriot community. I’m very sure they’d be interested in how you care for our military community, too–as many of them have family and friends in the military.
Can we talk about sponsorship/advertising on my show?
I’d be delighted to talk with you. Have a Happy New Year.
I’m very interested in trying to help this organization.
Maurice Plante says
Read the eye-opening opinions of two Federal Judges in our Veterans Court addressing the Attorney’s fees issue, GO-TO
The process for Veterans S/C disability is no longer for veterans but non-service-connected lawyers, which enriches attorneys at the expense of veterans and the taxpayer.
For Example —, in 2019, there were 8,470 appeals to our Veterans Court, (CAVC) 5,948 were for Attorney’s fees, Court made decisions in 5,330 on Attorney’s fees granted 5,317.
Gen Smith was my CO in Grenada and Beirut. He was definitely a leader.
Joe Coyle says
A brief note for Maj Gen Ray Smith. In case you had not heard, Christopher Paul Bollen passed away from a brain tumor last May. I recalled that you knew him from your enlisted days and thought you would want to know. My wife’s family were friends with his family. While not close that is how we became aware of his passing. Tried to find you on Sandbox. Was unsuccessful identifying you there so hope this finds its way to you. Best wishes, health and safety for you and yours.