Cracking open a beer on a Friday evening can be a good way to end the workweek and usher in the weekend. But this Friday is a little different for some in the U.S., as Veterans Day signifies a time to take a moment to honor veteran. Maybe you can do both at once. Dog Tag Brewing, located in Bozeman, Montana, has provided a way to do just that. It is composed of both a brewery and a nonprofit foundation for Gold Star families.
Photo courtesy of Dog Tag Brewing
On Nov. 11 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., the North Attleboro, Massachusetts, community will hold its fourth annual Veterans Day Breakfast. Each year the event is sponsored by the Capt. Kyle R. Van De Giesen Memorial Award Fund, spearheaded by his widow, Megan Van De Giesen. The Veterans Day Breakfast is one of her favorite things. Seeing the joy on the faces of men and women who served the country as they convene in one place, she said, is something special to witness.
The memorial fund is active throughout the year. Atop its logo is a helicopter. Kyle was a U.S. Marine Corps Bell Helicopter AH-1W SuperCobra pilot who died in a crash while deployed in Afghanistan in October 2009. He left behind a young daughter and a son he never got to meet; Megan would give birth the following month. But the Van De Giesen family, like many Gold Star families whose soldiers died in action, keeps the name of its fallen warrior very much alive by giving back to the community.
Dog Tag Brewing Foundation is a nonprofit organization with the same mission. Offering grants, free services and nonprofit consulting, Dog Tag helps Gold Star families create and grow their legacy projects. The Capt. Kyle R. Van De Giesen Memorial Award Fund is one of 32 Gold Star family legacy-building initiatives Dog Tag supports nationwide.
Seth Jordan, the founder and chairman of Dog Tag, was a Marine officer and Bell UH-1 pilot. One of his multiple tours in Afghanistan including one on the same base as Kyle and a SuperCobra pilot named Justin Jackson, who was in Kyle’s unit. Jackson is now Dog Tag’s chief relations officer. The foundation’s board of directors is comprised mostly of those with helicopter backgrounds, including Vice Chairman DJ Fuller, also a Marine SuperCobra pilot.
“It was one of those things where I knew I needed to surround myself with good people,” Jordan said about the creation of the board. “I had flown with them in some of the most austere, dangerous situations and I knew I could trust them. I wanted to work with super smart guys and gals who were combat tested — fought and came from the same mindset that I did — that are doing great things since they’ve gotten out of the service, and still want to serve after they’ve taken the uniform off.”
But one needn’t be familiar with Jordan in order to apply for Dog Tag services or contribute to the mission. And military background or not, everyone has the ability to interact with the foundation by “serving” — beer, that is. After all, “brewing” is in its name. Dog Tag Brewing, LLC donates 100% of after-tax profits to the foundation.
Dog Tag produces and distributes its “Legacy Lager” independently of the foundation. Announced this past August, Legacy Lager is set for national distribution courtesy of an agreement between Dog Tag and Pabst Brewing Company. The beer comes clad in dedication cans, bearing on their backs the names of the fallen soldiers who’s families have partnered with the foundation. Information about the legacy projects in honor of that soldier is also on the can, giving consumers the chance to learn more and donate if they so choose. Jordan has always had a passion from beer and started what became Dog Tag from home brewing. But there was a higher calling there for him, and he wanted his product to be more than just a beverage.
For anyone who may feel contrite at the thought of cracking open a beer bearing the name of a soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice, don’t. Jackson will be the first to explain that while he understands where that feeling of guilt may come from, toasting the fallen is a time-honored tradition in the military that everyone should partake in.
“What we really hope to do with Dog Tag is reinvent the toast,” Said Jackson. “It is OK to toast our fallen warriors. In fact, we need to.”
You may read more about Seth Jordan, Justin Jackson, DJ Fuller, Megan Van De Giesen and Dog Tag Brewing Foundation in the April 2017 issue of Rotor & Wing International. In the mean time, visit www.dogtagbrewing.org to find where you can buy Legacy Lager and how to get involved with its mission.