How It Started
My names is Larry Gonzales. I am a Marine Corps Veteran and founder of Sands For Service Members(SFSM). SFSM is a nonprofit organization founded to provide a positive and uplifting experience to Veterans by providing them a small keepsake of sand from different WW2 battlesites. I started passing them out to Veterans currently admitted to the VA hospital where I am currently employed. For Marines and Navy I give them sand from Iwo Jima and I provide Army Veterans sand from Omaha Beach, Normandy.
In 2003, I enlisted into The United States Marine Corps. During that time I was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, HI with Echo Co 2ND BN 3RD MAR(2/3). While with 2/3, I deployed twice. My first deployment was in 2003 to Okinawa, Japan and my second deployment was in 2005 to Kunar Province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
While deployed to Okinawa, Japan, someone from my unit had the HONOR of visiting Iwo Jima. This is how I was able to procure the original sand that would jump start my calling to be of service to the Heroes who have served us.
Shortly after being discharged in 2007, I began to slowly give away my Iwo Jima sand to Marines that I would meet throughout my life journey. Fast forward to May 26, 2020, when I began working for the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital at Mather, CA. I soon realized that not only did my passion to be of service translated so well but that there was a need to provide these Heroes with a positive experience in their time of need.
USMC Vet and Founder