Veteran's Day

In today’s Veteran climate if I told you the story of a Marine Infantry Vietnam Veteran who experienced combat and had all the experiences, wounds, and memories that come with it most of America would reach for their pocket to donate money to this man’s cause.  However, it is at this point I would look at you funny because the man of which I speak is Billionaire CEO of FedEx Fred Smith.  Awarded a Silver Star, Bronze Star, and 2 Purple Hearts, clearly Fred Smith is a man in need of charity.  Except he went on to make countless amounts of money, hire an immeasurable amount of Veterans, and prove to the world that there is nothing, absolutely nothing, wrong with making money as a Veteran or off Veterans of War.  So why should it be any different for our generation?  To be clear this is not a slap to Veteran charities as there are as many who do it with excellence and fill in gaps that our Government misses. In fact, I have highlighted many Vet charities who do it well here on this blog.  But to my grave, I will take the notion that the fact that the words “Veteran” and “charity” have become synonymous has been less than helpful at a minimum and fiscal destruction to many of our brothers at the worst.  There is nothing wrong with making money off of Veterans because this is America and when others make money, so do we.

It’s Still America, Right?

To be clear, I don’t want to be exploited.  I don’t want to be sold as if I am on a street corner to those who need a Veteran to satisfy their patriotic needs.  I don’t want to be dragged on stage by a politician who needs me to stand in the background to pretend he cares about the Veterans.  But nor do I think Veterans should wish to become the poster boys for any Vet charity that would but pad the wallets of a non-profit CEO and provide no measurable social return.  Again, not a swipe against all Vet charities as many are in fact amazing at their fiscal responsibility and social return.  But what’s wrong with Veterans making money?  What’s wrong with our identity becoming synonymous with our post-war success and not the notion we need charity because this one time at band camp, I went to war.  I didn’t have a flute with me if you are wondering.

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That’s billionaire Fred Smith above in the middle in an awesome war pic.  The various Veteran brands involved in the now famous Range 15 movie all have successful enterprises and now a successful movie to add to their resume.  And yet, I couldn’t help but notice on various social medium forums the notion from some Vets that any money made should be poured back into the Veteran community via charity.  Never mind that most if not all of the brands already contribute to great Veteran causes, but when exactly did a Veteran’s sweat, labor, and subsequent money become community property?  I mean, last time I checked this was still America, right?

The last time I checked, FedEx CEO’s commitment to success and passion has probably led to more Veterans with money in their pockets than any Veteran charity around.  Again, not a slap against charities as there are many great ones and yes, I’m going to keep saying that throughout this article because at least one of you will miss the entire point of this article and fixate on that.  Also, Veterans in genuine need should never feel ashamed of reaching out for help.  But I’m going to submit a crazy notion to you and it’s this.  Veterans will be better off if their fellow Veterans pursue positions of power, influence, and wealth with all their might so that they might actually be in a position to truly help their fellow Veteran in need.

So What are We Waiting On?

There is no Veteran who has achieved any level of success who should be ashamed of doing so and nor should that money now become community property to all Veterans.  I make my living now writing and if you want to help this Veteran, hire me to write stuff that makes you money like other people do.  Once again, I give you permission to make money off this Veteran.  In fact, I’m running a summer special where you still pay me good money and I just do what I would normally do but it’s hotter outside.  I’ve been in Iraq below and I know how to work in the heat, but at least this time I won’t have a freaking PFC ruining what would have been a totally awesome war picture.  Dang it kid, that was going to be my “look at this billionaire in war” pic.

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Apart from explicit exploitation, when other people are making money off of Veterans so are the Veterans themselves.  This is how the American economy works and Veterans shouldn’t be ashamed to pursue it.  Much of my writing is actually copywriting, sales, and web copy and whether you know it or not if you have followed different Veteran brands you have read something I wrote but under a name not my own. I make other companies money and I make money as a result.  Merica!

Veteran-owned business might be our unique moniker but it is not the sum of our identity.  Come with us.  Come join us all in the American dream has to offer not just by reminiscing at the past but embracing the possibility of what the future holds.  It is my desire someday that I can hire fellow Veterans to join my team here and pay them more money than I could ever donate.  Again, still donate to your favorite Vet charities that can show fiscal accountability and a measurable social return.  Please still do so.  But more importantly, become the next Billionaire CEO and then donate immeasurable amounts of money to those same charities and hire your fellow Veterans at an exponential rate.

Social Responsibility Meets Fiscal Return

There is actually a Veteran-owned company called StreetShares that I’ve mentioned on this blog before and they have developed this novel concept where it’s ok for everyone to make money and feed their kids.  Kind of like Shark Tank meets Ebay, StreetShares allows fellow Veteran businesses to pursue small-business loans from their fellow Veterans in a competitive bid type environment.  But now not only supporting Veteran business, they are opening up the opportunity for the average Veteran to become an investor and get a 5% return on that investment. Highlighted by the Wall Street Journal and given SEC approval to secure these investments this is as real as it gets for Veterans and they can start with amounts as low as $25 bucks.

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I’ve met the guys from StreetShares through my various writing platforms and I am unashamed to mention them to you.  Because they provide the opportunity not only for you to support your fellow Veterans but make money yourself doing so and there is nothing, nothing, wrong with that.  StreetShares, in fact, helped famed Vet Company Combat Flip Flops get off the ground and pursue growth that took them all the way to the actual SharkTank episode many of us saw.

So yes, you can hand $5 bucks to the guy holding the “homeless veteran” sign on the side of the street and I’m not telling to stop doing so.  But what if you donated, gifted, or perhaps invested in your fellow Veterans and that just so happened to make you money as well because this is America after all. Please continue to give to your favorite charities, but I again beg you for the sake of our fellow Veterans to pursue excellence on this side of the uniform in every way you can so that you can truly help your fellow Veterans.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, I leave you with this story.  I saw an expensive billboard from a famed/controversial charity that I won’t name, but it rhymes with Foonded Farriar Froject.  On that billboard was the picture of a Veteran in Wheelchair and I believe the caption, “He shouldn’t have to sacrifice anymore.”  Now, as a fully healthy Veteran, I recognize my lack of insight into that particular issue, but part of me sighed in frustration.  Because what if that Veteran did sacrifice some more.  Wounded Veterans are accomplishing amazing feats post-war and at least from a distance, it looks like they all require sacrifice similar indeed to what we did in war.  By the way, do you see a stupid PFC ruining these guy’s epic war picture? I didn’t think so.

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What if that Veteran despite his great sacrifice, in fact, sacrificed all the time and energy it takes to build a successful business and then I wonder if his impact on the Veteran community wouldn’t be exponentially more than being used to raise cash to pad a non-profit CEO’s pocket.  What if telling Veterans they have sacrificed enough already is less than helpful, misleading, and just bad financial advice? Has any Veteran actually found life on this side of the uniform so easy that they can honestly say they have sacrificed all that life has required of them?   It’s okay to make money off of Veterans America because we know how to cash a check too.  I long for the day when the word “Veteran” is no longer synonymous with charity and more so with “success”, “wealth”, and “opportunity.”  But still support your favorite Veteran charities and if you already typed your angry comment before getting to this point, I need to tell you that Bea Arthur wants her panties back.

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3 Replies to “Feel Free to Make Money Off Veterans, I Give You My Permission”

  1. Another great article, but you got me again with the whole “Bea Arthur panty” thing…Damn you.. lol.

  2. I gag every time I see a foonded farrier froject sticker. It was so bad that instead of taking a higher paying job with the VA as a social worker, i decided to work for a nonprofit that helps without the deeppockets of the govt.

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