Seth Jordan wants you to raise your beer can and toast a fallen servicemember.
Dog Tag Brewing teamed up with Pabst Brewing Co. to create Legacy Lager, a 16-ounce can of beer that features names of troops who lost their lives in combat. The goal: to prompt people to pause for a moment and reflect on the loss of a servicemember.
“I think the family really likes that,” says Jordan, who served as a Marine Corps officer. “They say, 'Somebody in California today took a selfie with the beer and [said] cheers to my son. He's been gone for eight years, but it's nice to know that someone learned about him today.' ”
Jordan and his teammates at Dog Tag Brewing Foundation are familiar with the pain of losing a comrade in combat. Jordan fought in the Battle of Marjah, where thousands of leathernecks and other coalition forces eliminated the Taliban's last stronghold in Afghanistan's Helmand province. Dozens of U.S. troops were killed in the 10-month battle - and that had an impact on Jordan, who deployed to Afghanistan twice, first as a joint terminal attack controller and later as a Huey pilot.
After about 10 years in uniform, Jordan wanted to find a way to give back to families who had lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan. He teamed up with other vets to launch a foundation awarding grants to Gold Star families who establish charities in honor of their fallen servicemember.
Dog Tag Brewing offers free consulting and advisory services to help Gold Star families make their charities special, Jordan says. Many families have ideas about how to honor their sons or daughters, but don't quite know where to start.
The family of Army National Guard Spc. Christopher Patterson, for example, recently met up with Jordan's team for advice. Their son was killed in 2012 in Afghanistan when his vehicle struck an IED. Growing up, Patterson's parents say he was a bit shy. But he came into his own once he got involved in the performing arts.
His family wanted to create a charity in Patterson's name that provides resources and money for other young men and women interested in the performing arts. Dog Tag Legacy Fund helped them establish the Chris Patterson Memorial Foundation, and on the fifth anniversary of the soldier's death, the group held its first-ever board meeting.
“We can't control what happened to them, but we can help control how they're remembered and how their families interact with the community,” Jordan says. Families who receive grants are then eligible to apply for the Legacy Lager dedication cans.
It's Jordan's personal mission to get more veterans involved in philanthropy. Former or retired officers are a great fit for the work, which he says made him a better leader.
“I think [philanthropy] softens your heart and puts you in the right mind-set for civilian life,” Jordan says. “It's also an opportunity for [veterans] to be seen as civic assets.”