Entrepreneurial alum raises toast, awareness to fallen warriors
Seth Jordan’s life direction has been shaped by two events – 9/11, which compelled him to serve his country, and the loss of fellow U.S. Marines in Afghanistan. Both tragedies have led the 2000 Clemson University marketing graduate on his life’s mission that no fallen warrior will be forgotten.
Borne out of those tragedies was Dog Tag Brewing Foundation, the social entrepreneur’s Bozeman, Mont.,-based non-profit whose beer sales’ sole purpose is to celebrate the lives and legacies of military heroes who died in service to their nation.
“I lived in New York City about a block from the World Trade Center at the time of the terrorist attacks and saw the devastation. It changed my life,” said Jordan, who worked for ESPN in advertising at the time. “I felt compelled to serve and did so as a U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot.”
Seven Marines in Jordan’s unit were killed when two helicopters collided. The event inspired him to find a way to remember his friends, and others who died in defense of their country.
“I wanted to create a product that would drive philanthropy, create awareness for our nation’s fallen warriors and the projects their families work on to preserve their legacies, and beer happened to be that product,” said Jordan, a decorated Marine who has served both in the air and on the ground in Afghanistan. “When people drink our Czech-style pilsner, they’re drinking with a purpose in that 100 percent of our profits benefit charities created or selected by Gold Star families to help further the legacy of their fallen loved one.”
Jordan’s Dog Tag Brewing, LLC is actually a partnership with Pabst Brewing Co., which produces, markets and distributes the legacy lager. The foundation, which Jordan founded and chairs, owns Dog Tag Brewing, and serves as a grant-maker to help families create a legacy for fallen loved ones in their communities.
The brew’s unique 16-ounce cans have memorialized 32 warriors in its first year with replica dog tags emblazoned on each can that includes their name, rank, hometown, birthdate and killed-in-action date.
“When a consumer buys our beer, they know proceeds are going to teaching our nation about its fallen warriors,” said Jordan. “We are similar to the Newman’s Own brand in that we make grants. In our case, it’s to families who want their loved ones remembered. Their funding can be for a variety of projects, including everything from high school scholarships to Little League park projects.”
But Dog Tag Foundation, founded in 2015, doesn’t limit its work to just writing checks.
“In our first year, we’ve also provided 300 hours of professional consulting services to families who have started charities in honor of their loved one. Among other things, we help them register for tax-exempt status and advise them on the many ways to create a hometown awareness of their local heroes.”
The foundation has contributed over $230,000 in grants to date and has attracted more than 130,000 social media followers. Jordan said that kind of impact and exposure doesn’t come without the help of many, including a hand he received from his alma mater.
“We were fortunate to enlist the help of Clemson Athletic Department’s award winning social media team. Jonathan Gantt and his New Media associates were instrumental in helping us create awareness of the foundation across a number of social media platforms.”
But he also credits the dedication of the 10 members of his Board of Directors, all veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and who have collectively served more than 40 deployments. “They don’t wear the uniforms anymore, but they all wanted to continue serving their country in some way.”
Jordan said the foundation’s work is developing into a nationwide movement, which aims to broaden, inspire and activate support for the many ways our nation’s warriors can be remembered.
“We can’t change what happened to these great Americans but we can change how they are remembered, and that is what Dog Tag Foundation has set out to accomplish.”
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