Camo Rings America is a small, military veteran-owned site, specializing in top-quality rings while honoring the brave men, women, and veterans of the armed forces. I'd like to offer my deep gratitude and sincere thanks for visiting, learning more about Camo Rings America, our progress, and how this small dream is slowly becoming a reality.
My name is Brian Kittle, I'm a military veteran and the owner of Camo Rings America. I've always been sort of a private person and still deal with a little anxiety from past military deployments, so sharing my life, struggles, accomplishments, and the personal story of my business is not exactly easy. However, I've learned there are certain points in life where everyone must take a step (or giant leap) out of their comfort zone in order to move forward. Recently I've been challenged to do just that, so this is my story...
I grew up in rural northeast Georgia with a wonderful family who instilled deep values of integrity; accepting, loving and celebrating all people for their differences; and a strong desire to help make the lives of others better, even if just on a small scale.
In 2004, while working full time and struggling to pay for college, I decided to enlist in the Navy Reserve. I was seeking a career change and because my father, both grandfathers, and my great-grandfather were all veterans, the military was not only a great option for me but also a natural fit. After graduating from college and completing Basic Training, the first temporary duty assignment to Bahrain really opened my eyes to experiencing the hardships of different cultures first-hand, but also the wonderful opportunity to make a positive, real-world impact.
In 2007, my number came up and I received a phone call from my chief for a year-long deployment to Iraq. This was expected and although I was nervous and sad to leave my family, I embraced the deployment as a major life experience to grow as a person and to help as many people as possible in one of the most challenging environments on Earth.
During the deployment to Iraq, we worked a daunting schedule of twelve hour days (minimum), seven days a week. Zombie-like exhaustion was common, but some nights, back at the base I'd climb to the top of a large bunker that housed small aircraft. From the high vantage point and between the helicopters taking off and landing, the breath-taking view of the desert and the night sky full of a million stars provided a short time to just sit, talk to God, think of home, and dream about future possibilities. It was there, in the quiet times between choppers and the occasional mortar fire, that the small seed was planted to start a business; one in which I could combine a love of creativity and helping others.
After returning home from Iraq in 2008, I moved to Texas to accept a full-time military contractor position, while continuing weekend military reserve duty. As a contractor, I was assigned to a small team that provided US-based support to a military unit in Afghanistan. Over the two years in that assignment, I was able to not only help military members with work and research to aid in their operations, but it was also a great opportunity to learn about the Afghan people, culture, and their struggles on a human level. Desiring a more hands-on role, and at the end of a personal relationship in Texas, a contractor position opened in the unit I'd been supporting, so I took another leap of faith and signed-on.
As in Iraq, living and working in Afghanistan meant long hours with no days off, but I enjoyed the work and was thankful for the opportunity to provide direct support to the military. I was able to see a lot of the area in and around Kabul, Afghanistan and how extreme poverty affected the lives of local residents, especially the women and children. Many children in Kabul and throughout Afghanistan, some as young as six, have to work rather than attend school in order help provide food for their families. After learning about a local organization in Kabul called Aschiana (http://www.aschiana-foundation.org/), which provides basic education, food, and vocational skills for children forced to work in the streets, I felt compelled to help. From that point on, at night and in the small available amounts of free time, I started a care package program for the children, emailing friends, family, and anyone willing to help. Over the next few months, boxes of shoes, clothing, school supplies, toiletries, and other basic items began arriving. Before leaving Afghanistan, we were able to visit the children's organization, delivered around twenty-five boxes of supplies and received a tour of the facilities. I'll never be able to describe in words the kind, sweet, respectful nature of the children, or the obvious effects of their difficult lives, hidden behind appreciative smiles and bright inquisitive eyes, but that day they gave me an experience more valuable than any material items I could ever offer them. Although I didn't know that day what business I would start in the future, I knew that an integral part would need to include supporting a charity for people in need or giving back in some way.
When the job in Afghanistan ended, I returned home and finished out my time in the reserves, then switched gears and worked various jobs on the oil rigs in Texas and Oklahoma. I got to see countless acres of beautiful country while working on the oil rigs and met amazing, life-long friends, but the work was difficult and sleeping in the small cab of my pickup truck for 2-3 nights at a time between jobs got old pretty quick. The pay wasn't great and the feeling of being on the wrong life path was apparent, so I decided to return home to Georgia, and my small house in the country that I'd rarely gotten to visit in the past four years.
Fate always seems to intervene in mysterious ways, and just before moving home, my house in Georgia was burglarized. From the available information, I guess the robbers became nervous that they'd be caught, so they set fire to my home, burning it to the ground and I pretty much lost everything. From past experiences of living with very little, I knew that physical objects could be replaced, but to this day I will admit that losing photographs and my late grandparents antiques is still hard to think about. However, I truly believe that when God closes one door, He opens another; and the crazy, wonderful, difficult, sometimes impossible-to-navigate path that we take to realize our dreams is not only necessary but each step provides valuable lessons and guidance for discovering our true selves and personal definition of success. Everyone is different, but for me success equates to simply providing for my family and being able to pursue a creative career that I love while helping others. It's not fancy but it's my dream.
Currently, I reside in Jacksonville, Florida with my wonderful fiancee and life now is a good bit easier than in the military days. Camo Rings America is still a young business and we're struggling to grow and get our name out to the public, but new and exciting opportunities are in view on the horizon. I'm working diligently to add new and unique lines of rings to our website every month and working towards completing a series of jewelry-making courses. I've also set up a small studio in my garage and will begin making my own lines of rings and other handmade jewelry in the near future. We've not reached a level of sales yet to be able to support a charity, but as with everything, I'm taking things one day at a time and as long as we're moving in the right direction; I know that day will come. Camo Rings America remains committed to supporting our military and veterans, and the guiding principle that our rings are and will always be made with the highest standards and top quality materials. Thank you again for taking the time to visit and learn more about us. We're proud to offer friendly and helpful customer service, so please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions or need our assistance. We're here for you and always happy to help! On a personal note, if you know a veteran or anyone who is struggling; reach out to them, as kind words and actions can make a world of difference. I am and will always remain humble and thankful for those who have helped me along the way.
Owner, Camo Rings America