Combat Flip Flops
via amazon.comFriends and business partners Matthew Griffin and Donald Lee served multiple tours in Afghanistan as members of the U.S. Army Special Operations forces in the 75th Ranger Regiment. But once their active duty days were behind them, they sought to create a better "path to peace." To support veterans as well as people in war-torn countries, their company, Combat Flip Flops, creates shoes from locally sourced products in conflict zones, and uses the proceeds to fund education for Afghan women, dismantle crack cartels in Colombia, clear landmines in Laos, and employ veterans stateside.
Here are some other simple ways to support veterans.
Courtesy Mitscoots OutfittersBefore U.S. Air Force veteran Tim Scott and his wife created their company, they were compelled to give out socks and other products via their car window to the homeless population in Austin, Texas. But the more they handed out, the greater they realized the need in their community was. In an effort to take action and make a difference, they founded their company Mitscoot Outfitters with a "get, give, employ" social enterprise business plan to help create job opportunities for the homeless while also providing the gear they need to get back on their feet. They're all made in the USA, and you can choose beanies, gloves, backpacks, and more.
Here's what America's troops want you to know.
Iron Mountain Designs
Courtesy Iron Mountain DesignsAfter 14 years in the Air Force, with 21 deployments for Special Operation missions, Salt Lake City resident, entrepreneur, and veteran, Joshua Vandenbrink decided to turn over a new leaf. Or rather, wood. He had always dreamed of owning a fabrication business, and the inspiration was easy: Why not create a patriotic online shop for those who want something more than a flag for their home? Enter: Iron Mountain Designs, which offers beautiful hand-forged steel and hand-carved wooden flags. As another impressive feat, shortly after he created his business, Vandenbrink was set with a new obstacle—a traumatic brain injury, causing him to have to re-learn how to create his flags. Two years later, he has not only overcome this setback but far exceeded it, now offering custom furnishings and decor.
You won't believe this heartwarming story of a veteran who gave back.
Courtesy Tom Spooner US Army Special Forces and Warriors Heart FounderNo matter where you live, a fleece pullover or jacket is a standby in any closet. But for United States Army Green Beret and Special Forces veteran Tom Spooner, the idea of creating his clothing company, Warrior's Heart, had to also help his fellow soldiers. Proceeds from the Men's Micro Fleece Jacket support the Warrior's Heart Foundation, which helps to supplement insurance cost for the common issues that veterans face after leaving the service, from addiction and PTSD to mild TBI and other recurring symptoms. A little bit goes a long way, especially since Americans lose more soldiers at home than in combat.
Black Rifle Coffee Company Canada
via blackriflecoffee.caFor Evan Hafer, a veteran in the U.S. Army in the 19th Special Forces Group, and pal Darren Weeks, the military was a family affair, since both of their grandfathers served in World War II and the Korean War. After their time in the service, they decided to create the premium-roast Canadian coffee company that supplies a much-needed early A.M. pick-me-up and also supports charity. Though they took their business to another country, the sentiment of helping one another remains in full force. After all, every purchase from Black Rifle Coffee Company Canada helps support Little Warriors, an organization that's dedicated to the awareness, prevention, and treatment of child sexual abuse across Canada.
Courtesy Wood ThingamajigAfter being enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard in 1997, Jessica Brown graduated from West Point and was commissioned in the Army in 2005. With several years of service under her belt, she decided to leave and pursue another passion—for wood carving. She created an online store and Etsy shop affectionately named Wood Thingamajigs. Here, you can choose from an assortment of kitchen and home goodies, including one-of-a-kind cutting boards made with maple, walnut, padauk, and more.
Read the heartwarming story of how a game of golf saved this veteran's life.
via mysipsee.comFor 26 years, Daniel Garcia was a proud officer in the United States Navy, where he held a number of high-ranking, tactical leadership positions. Once he retired and claimed his veteran status, he decided to found his own company and create a novel concept—Sipsee. As the name suggests, these patented, BPA-free, portable, and customizable bottle stoppers fit into water, beer, wine, and other bottles. He hopes to shift the "throwaway" culture to reduce the amount of wasted water and the plastic that trashes our oceans.
If you love the ocean, check out these intimate pictures of sea creatures large and small.
Courtesy Taneisha Phillips Creator Founder Earths OrganicsAt the age of 18, Taneisha Phillips joined the United States Army, completing tours in South Carolina, Virginia, Kansas, and an overseas mission in Korea. But in 2003 she decided to join the Florida National Guard for two years, and begin her company—Earth's Organics. Creating certified organic, natural and eco-friendly products, her soaps, washes, and more moisturize, lather, and are gentle for every skin type, making the products an ideal stuffer for every stocking on your mantle. Check out these other natural beauty swaps you'll want to make.
courtesy Elemental PathDonald Coolidge spent eight and a half years in the U.S. Marine Corps, complete with an assignment in Iraq. Once he retired, he decided to create the STEMosaur, a customizable toy that doubles as a learning companion for children. It features many of the classic elements of the CogniToys Dino, but adds a hands-on approach to stimulate and engage kiddos. Specifically, it introduces the concepts behind STEM and coding lessons, allowing them to build their new bestie from building pieces and then connect it to WiFi, where STEMosaur will actually engage in conversation. Perfect for the aspiring female engineer!
Fire Department Coffee
courtesy firedeptcoffee.comAfter four years in the United States Navy, Luke Schneider had a wild idea: Why not combine bourbon with coffee and call it the best cup of all? So that's what he did, using a unique proprietary infusion process that's the first of its kind. Put a bag under the tree to give the gift of coffee-meets-the-sweet-smoothness-of-bourbon. And hey, if there are other flavors you—or those on your holiday list—crave? No worries. Fire Department Coffee has plenty of varieties. Check out these tricks for making your coffee healthier.