What do troops really want in care packages? Entrepreneur and veteran, Chelsea is the founder and CEO of Troopster Military Care Packs knows the answer to this question. Chelsea remembers receiving care packages that had moldy food or the box was destroyed and missing items so she created Troopster.org (est. 2015). It is a nonprofit organization dedicated to getting quality deployment packages to servicemen and women overseas.
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After graduating from Ball State University, B.S. Advertising, in 2011, Chelsea joined the United States Navy working as a Photojournalist where she traveled the world to provide media support and see first hand the accomplishments and capabilities of the Armed Forces. It was during her experiences with the military, serving across 13 countries over the course of 7 years, that she was inspired to establish Troopster.
Chelsea has received multiple recognition awards to include the Small Business Administration Person of the Year Award, Entrepreneurial Excellence Award, Cova Gives Back Award, Microsoft #EmpowerPossibility Award, Verizon Salute Award and Innovator of the Year.
Lost in the shuffle
Chelsea was planning to join the Navy. She started her officer package in her last year of college, but the recruiter she had been working with retired and didn’t submit her package. No one could find it. Even though she had her degree, she decided to enlist in the Navy. She had plans to transfer from enlisted to the Officer once she was in, but she didn’t know how hard that process would be. By the time she completed her officer package, she started Troopster…so, it all worked out in the end.
Chelsea enjoyed boot camp and made good friends and she was really excited about her job as a photojournalist. She learned so much. One of the experiences she shared was going to a campground where half the team had paintball guns and the other half had cameras. The team was instructed to “document the war.” Then, after an hour, they switched roles.
Her first assignment was at Norfork in Virginia. It was the “Big Navy’s” journalist portal, where journalists went to tell the Navy’s story. She wasn’t at Norfork for very long. Within weeks of arriving in Virginia, Chelsea was headed out on her first deployment to Japan. She was attached to different ships to capture the story of the Navy. She was always coming and going. Gone for a few months, home for a few weeks and then heading back out again. She loved getting to capture the stories of the Navy and shared some of her favorites.
Everything wasn’t easy. In 2013, onboard her seventh ship and for some reason she found herself integrated among the rest of the Public Affairs officers on the ship. This wasn’t the way it had been on her previous ships, but she worked around it. She noticed everyone in the shop was extremely unhappy and she wasn’t sure why. The leader of the section quickly showed why everyone was so upset. His demeanor and had tirades that made life hard for everyone.
She decided to document everything and presented it to her Squadron Officer. He tried to handle the situation, but Chelsea got yelled at by the Chief. Nothing changed. Chelsea continued to document and then went back to her Squadron Officer. This time, she brought someone with her, but they ended up being too afraid to speak up. He sent her back to the office and didn’t help with the situation. The whole situation tainted her experience in the Navy. No one seemed to care about the sailors on the ship.
A Care Package Changed Everything
As all this was going on, she received a care package from her mom. When she opened it she found that everything had gone bad. It was like putting salt on an open wound. It was the final straw and she burst into tears. Then, a week or so later, she was in the library. She knew she had to do something else, so she started Troopster. She didn’t want someone else to feel the way she did and she wanted others to get what troops really wanted in care packages, yummy treats that were not moldy. Through a lot of hard work and daydreaming, she created Troopster.
On Thanksgiving Day, in 2015, she launched her business. She had been thinking there was more to do, but her mom encouraged her to launch. She has learned a lot and continues to learn. They have sent more than 7,000 care packages around the world. Troopster has grown so much and she loves her job.
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