What if every time you purchased a product you were helping a Veteran? With many patriotic Americans who avidly support our military and first responder veterans, it is an exciting possibility. The Veterans Family of Brands (VFOB) is making this idea a reality. The VFOB brings together existing companies who have built in a culture and heart for supporting veterans and their families using the profits of their businesses. How the VFOB came together so quickly is a remarkable story started by two vets and a Gold Star brother. However, they’d rather you get excited about your ability to support veterans through purchasing ammo, guns, targets, accessories, apparel, optics and so much more. If that sounds promising to you, keep reading.
History of VFOB
In August, 2015, four veterans conceived the VFOB idea.
Jeff Axelson, CEO of Axelson Tactical, Gold Star brother to Matthew “Axe” Axelson (Killed In Action) in Operation Redwings in 2005. Axelson Tactical directly supports the Matthew Axelson Foundation, a scholarship program for children of the fallen, and several other excellent Vet Foundations.
Ron Bellan, Retired Navy SEAL Master Chief, a.k.a. Reaper 01, CEO of Reaper Outdoors, and host of the TV Show Reaper Outdoors Survive the Hunt on Pursuit Channel. Ron sat on the board of directors for the Special Operations Wounded Warriors (SOWW), and continues to drive benefits their direction.
Casey Betzold, former US Air Force Captain, CEO of Snake River Shooting Products and Consulting Inc. (the company manufacturing Team Never Quit Ammunition in partnership with Retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell).
Plans were made and things moved quickly. Team Never Quit had an ammunition demonstration event scheduled at the Strip Gun Club in Las Vegas, NV just before and in conjunction with SHOT Show 2016 (the Shooting Hunting Outdoors Trade Show). Axelson Tactical and Reaper Outdoors would join the event. Others were invited. All told, about eight companies took part in a small media event with about 300 buyers and media.
SHOT kicked off Tuesday after the event, and by Thursday, something interesting was taking place. Axelson, Reaper, and Snake River had been approached by nearly 20 different unsolicited companies asking how they could be part of the “movement!”
In a hastily scheduled late overnight meeting, about fifteen key players scribbled on notepads and napkins until the concept of a Family of Brands was born. They committed to launch an official organization or company by the NRA Show scheduled for May 2016 in Louisville, KY.
One day before NRA 2016, VeteransFOB.com and Veterans FOB, LLC went live with ten member companies. At the same time they launched, VFOB Radio, a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, and other platforms. The first episode featured Gold Star moms, Donna Axelson and Cindy Dietz sharing what Memorial Day meant to them. There were many tears, some great inspiration and VFOB was formally a “thing”!
What is VFOB?
VFOB is an idea: American ideals put into practice, with the network openly and vocally stating what they support by putting their money and resources where their hearts are. As such, the DNA for the VFOB had to be straightforward and purposefully defined. It would be a for profit entity benefiting the member companies and the foundations those companies supported. VFOB would hold events raising funds in cooperation with its corporate and individual members to exponentially grow the support dollars for veterans foundations locally and nationally. VFOB would provide a solid answer to the question, “What if every time you purchased a product, you were supporting a Veteran?”
Member companies must hold themselves and their products to a higher standard including a built in culture of care for Vets, quality products, fantastic customer service, and a warranty that is equal to – “if there is a problem, we will fix it.” These companies are high on integrity and their owners must take the moral high ground in business and in their daily lives. It is more about the people and the mission than it is the products, and that is demonstrated through action and support of the network.
Member companies benefit from support for everyday business needs like legal, IT, graphic design, media support, credit card processing, legal and promotional materials, built in distribution systems, sales team, prostaff team, and advertising/marketing capabilities. Having all the member companies on the same page makes this possible.
Individuals expressed a desire to be a part of movement VFOB embodies so Individual Memberships were woven into the DNA. Starting at $40 annually, member dues support the work of VFOB and deliver a shirt, sticker, and challenge coin to the member. A limited number of lifetime memberships are available with additional benefits like a serialized limited edition challenge coin and 10% off at the VFOB online store.
Although VFOB was spawned within the Outdoor industry, it quickly spread across multiple industries and segments such as training, the offroad 4×4 market, a women’s focused division, music, and medical professionals. With the concept of bringing existing companies and patriots together, there is no limit to where the VFOB can grow.
As this is being written, VFOB is officially only 150 days old and now has twenty-three companies as corporate members and is vetting more. Five potential member companies are being reviewed, and more than 74 applications and interviews have taken place with interested companies interested in the VFOB concept. All of this growth has been organic and via word of mouth. Four different podcast or radio shows have joined the team to assist in getting the word out on VFOB, and more than 100 individuals joined through membership.
What is a Forward Operating Base?
A Forward Operating Base (FOB) is any secured forward military position, commonly a military base used to support tactical operations. An FOB may or may not contain an airfield, hospital, or other facilities. It is the place deployed personnel receive help when they are away from home. This is a term every deployed Veteran knows well. As the Veterans Family of Brands was launched using the acronym VFOB, the metaphor of a Forward Operating Base for Veteran support immediately jumped out. Practically speaking, this virtual Forward Operating Base known as VFOB allows Americans to tangibly support veterans through product and services purchases.
How can you be part of the VFOB mission movement?
As mentioned above, Individual patriots are foundational to the VFOB. Their membership drives the mission forward. Individuals can sign up online for one of 1000 exclusive lifetime memberships or they can become annual members. Lifetime members receive a serialized challenge coin, a VFOB T-shirt from Grunt Style, a sticker, a lapel pin, 10% off the VFOB online store for life, and $5/month off our partner monthly subscription box program Tactical Squirrel. As soon as the 1000th and final lifetime membership is sold, all lifetime members will be entered into a drawing for over $3500 of VFOB company’s products!
Annual members have two options, a membership with a coin, or membership without a coin. Annual members receive 5% discount on the VFOB store, get a shirt, sticker, and lapel pin, and also receive $5/month off Tactical Squirrel. They will receive an annual gift as well.
You don’t have to buy a membership to support the VFOB mission, though. Simply purchasing products from any of the growing list of VFOB member companies puts real dollars into solid foundations that support Veterans. Simple, easy, purposeful.
For more information, check out VeteransFOB.com.