I grew up in a military family. My father, Richard, was a graduate of West Point in 1966 and served 26 years as an officer in the Army. When I was growing up, I had the opportunity to be around soldiers, almost daily. Even when I was young, I admired their dedication, loyalty, selflessness, and courage – qualities my father exemplified and instilled in me.
In March of 2016, my father passed away after a long battle with cancer. His death has left an immeasurable void in my life. I wanted to find a way to keep my father’s memory alive and to honor the man who was my hero and who had a profound impact on my life.
At the same time, I wanted to make a positive impact on the world by giving back and making the future better for others, something my father encouraged me to do when he was alive.
Finding the Answer in Supporting Veteran-Owned Businesses & Veteran Support Organizations
Because of my father’s commitment to the military and coming from a military family, I wanted to find a way to support veteran businesses and organizations. I knew there were opportunities to get involved.
In April of 2017 at an entrepreneurial retreat in Naples, Florida, I met Dean Wegner, a West Point graduate, helicopter pilot, Army Ranger, and founder/CEO of Authentically American. Headquartered in Nashville, they produce made in the USA corporate branded apparel, company uniforms, and are venturing into the health and medical space with an innovate scrubs line.
The company offered me the opportunity to participate in their initial investor seed round in June of 2017.
Authentically American is a purpose-driven organization. Guided by their core values, steadfast patriotism, and faith in God, they hold their owners, investors, and their work family to the highest level of integrity. Their values carry through to how they interact with their customers. Also, Authentically American donates 10% of their revenues to a growing number of veteran support organizations, including folded flag foundation, folds of honor, and reboot combat recovery.
Warrior Transition Network
I was recently asked to join the board for Warrior Transition Network whose mission is to build a bridge from military service to meaningful career opportunities. On one side, we have our nation’s heroes. On the other side, we have America’s greatest opportunities with America’s greatest companies. Our military members reach a gap that is too big for them to cross by themselves. The Warrior Transition Network helps veterans bridge this gap to realize the tremendous opportunities that exist after their military service.
A Drop in The Ocean
Over the past year, I quickly realized that many organizations support our veteran community in a variety of amazing ways.
- But, what if more companies decided to partner with more veteran-owned businesses?
- What if veteran-owned businesses more closely collaborated to determine complimentary ways to grow their respective companies?
- What if more veteran support organizations discovered opportunities to partner with each other?
I am only one person, and in a small way through my commitment to both Authentically American and Warrior Transition Network, I am making a growing, positive impact. I am resolved, however, that we can do much more. This drop in the ocean can eventually become a wave.
Reflecting on my father and the huge impact he made on me and others in his life, I want to be the catalyst for this larger impact. At the very least, perhaps it will inspire someone to ask how they can get more involved.
And I know my dad would be proud.