Sat. Sep 19th, 2020

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Veterans Starting their own Businesses: Vigilant Kitchen and Veteran Entertainment Projects.

5 min read

Steven Thompson of Vigilant Kitchen goofing off. Pray he doesn't whack the camera man

Steven Thompson of Vigilant Kitchen goofing off. Pray he doesn't whack the camera man
Steven Thompson of Vigilant Kitchen goofing off. Pray he doesn’t whack the camera man

When it comes to veterans starting their own business I am always intrigued. Because I am running my own company I want to do all that I can to help out; running your own shop is a lot of work but the reward is great. Having the ability to work for yourself while helping others is something many veterans strive for and can be a great labor of love. Some very successful companies in the United States have been started by veterans with just an idea and a lot of hard work.  

Being able to count on a few buddies to help out with labor can go a long way and in the end a business can turn into something that becomes a large part of American culture.

They don’t all succeed but the ones that do can succeed greatly. Here is a list of some very well-known companies created by veterans:

  • 24 Hour Fitness, led by Carl Liebert III, who served two years aboard a Navy vessel as a supply officer
  • 7-Eleven, led by Joe DePinto, who served five years as an Army field artillery officer
  • Casey’s General Stores, led by Robert Myers, who served 22 years in the Army before retiring as a lieutenant colonel
  • FedEx, founded and led by Frederick Smith, who served four years in the Marine Corps
  • General Motors, led by Daniel Akerson, who served five years as an officer on a Navy destroyer
  • Johnson & Johnson, led by Alex Gorsky, who served six years in the Army, earning a Ranger tab and Airborne wings
  • Lockheed Martin, led by Robert Stevens, who served in the Marines
  • Procter & Gamble, led by Robert McDonald, who served for five years as a captain in the Army
  • USAA, led by Josue Robles, who served for 28 years in the Army, with posts in Korea, Vietnam, Germany and Spain
  • Verizon Communications, led by Lowell McAdam, who served six years in the Navy as a Seabee
Some of the companies out there making a big impact today on military culture and pop culture are Brandon Webb’s Force12Media, Marty Skovlund Jr’s Blackside Concepts for starters. Gruntstyle,  Art15 Clothing are also making a name for themselves as well. Why are these companies successful? How about good work ethic for starters? Being an Army Ranger or Navy SEAL can teach a person a lot about good leadership and resilience. Not all vets have that background but here are a few facts many vet-run businesses do have in common:
  1. Veteran business owners were overwhelmingly male (94.8 percent) and White (89.7 percent); 7.6 percent of veteran-owned firms were owned by African Americans and 4.6 percent by Hispanic Americans.
  2. The owners were predominantly over the age of 55 (75.1 percent), reflecting the ages of veterans overall, and they tended to be better educated than other business owners.
  3. Of the veteran business owners who responded to the survey, 8.3 percent had service-connected disabilities.
  4. By far the largest source of capital for veteran owned business startup or acquisition was personal or family savings: 61.7 percent of respondents reported using this source. Business loans from banks or other commercial lenders were the second most important source at 9.8 percent.
  5. For business expansion or capital improvements, 30 percent used personal or family savings. Personal and business credit cards were also important sources of capital, at 10.9 percent.
  6. Veteran-owned businesses were more likely to be home-based, less likely to be family-owned, and somewhat less likely to be franchises than the business population overall.
  7. Veteran-owned employer businesses were slightly more likely to offer benefits such as health insurance, contributions to retirement plans, profit sharing, and paid leave than businesses overall.

I now want to talk about an interesting company called Vigilant Kitchen. I am plugging them because I believe in what they are doing. Be forewarned this article is advertising albeit unpaid advertising. What are some of the reasons I am plugging them?

They want to promote veteran and first-responder businesses all across the United States. That, to me, is a good thing. I can’t argue with that.baf2d3ad3766f3ac5d972ed8c3fcbe19_original

How are they going to do this? Well that’s the tough part but putting a U.S. Marine in charge of it all might not be a bad idea. Enter Steve Thompson.

“Steve Thompson spent 8 years in the Marine Corps, serving in the infantry and deploying multiple times to the Middle-East.  In 2010 he was told his time with the Military was over due to injuries sustained in combat.  Like many Veterans, he let his PTSD get the best of him and he slipped into a state of depression.

He couldn’t find work and was going through a divorce.  After a few years of trying to find his place in the world he re-married, had a couple kids and discovered that he was passionate about food and the cooking process. He also discovered a Veteran community.  After talking to a few fellow Veterans over a bottle 4 Spirits Bourbon, he thought, “This is really good whiskey, made by Veterans, and so few people know about it.  How can I change that?”  It was at this point that the idea for his show was born. He called it Vigilant Kitchen.

Their mission is to create Season 1 of their series “Vigilant Kitchen”, which is a show based around bringing their viewers to the doorsteps of military veteran and first responder owned businesses all across the United States. Their show will have a bit of comedy mixed with great information about these companies, the business owners, the veterans and also be about food.  Great food, mind you.
Steve’s goal is to produce 8-10 episodes for season 1. They are raising funds for equipment and production costs.  The show will be aired as a streaming web series through “All Warrior Network” on platforms such as HULU and Amazon.  They have also partnered with a Portland based video production company to ensure their show is of the highest quality and content.

Another of their efforts is a crowd funding campaign. The goal?

They want to record a song and to make a music video for the song called, “The Fallen”. The song was which was written by Steve and another Marine Corps veteran, Sgt.Maj. David Devaney, a Marine sniper.
The song and video are meant to help veterans who struggle with PTSD and depression. Many may feel alone and have gone through tragic loss overseas.  It as well will address the issue of the 22 veterans a day that commit suicide.”
You can find more information as well as make a donation to help fund their project at:

I hope you’ll take  a look at them online and give em some support. Vets looking out for vets is never a bad thing…


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