By Kelly Vaughn
November 2, 2021

Supporting veteran-owned businesses

Two veteran business owners discuss veterans' struggles and how important it is to support veteran-owned businesses.

A service member’s career is unique in many ways, but a notable difference is that when veterans leave the service, they are often much younger than a civilian retiree. For many, the military offered them so much more than a career.

In their service, they find their family. This family speaks in a language only they understand, using acronyms and having been through experiences that are extremely unique to them. Service members have a strong identity, and upon departure from the service, many of them struggle to find their place in the civilian world. Chad Watts, one of the founders of Scars & Stripes Coffee, sees this all too often while working at the VA.

Scars & Stripes Coffee

Chad Watts with Scars & Stripes Coffee (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

“Forty-four percent of military veterans struggle after leaving the service,” said Chad.

Furthermore, the majority of them wait an average of eight years to reach out for help. Chad is passionate about working with and helping veterans but grew weary watching the number of struggling veterans continue to climb.

According to Chad, there are many organizations that attempt to support veterans, but he had yet to find one that empowered them. Chad and his wife Heather talked about this often and developed a business idea that was founded on empowering veterans in their next phase of life. They joined forces with their friend and partner Lt. Col. Brad Dean and developed a business plan that focused on building a veterans-only salesforce founded on a sense of belonging, accountability, the opportunity to earn their own income, and even included a military rank organizational structure. Giving veterans a hand up rather than a handout, First Sergeants coach their platoon leaders, who in turn train their squad leaders. Team members support each other every step of the way.

Scars and Stripes is in its third year of business and is proud to say they employ over 190 veterans in approximately 40 different states. Chad and Heather’s dream of developing a program where veterans empower other veterans is a reality, but they aren’t stopping there. Chad has started a new venture: a non-profit company called Empower The Veterans (ETV). The nonprofit is focused on career development and helping veterans find their “why” by providing entrepreneurial training programs in multiple areas such as communication, sales, life skills, and wellness.

Junk Platoon

Todd Temaat, owner of Junk Platoon (Photo: Brent Fuchs)

Another local veteran-owned business to note is Junk Platoon, founded by retired Air Force service member Todd Temaat. After 21 years of service, Todd knew he wasn’t ready for full retirement. After separating from the Air Force, Todd spent time in Illinois and North Carolina before Oklahoma called him home. Todd wanted to be close to family and sought to develop a business that would not only support his family but would also employ other veterans, and in turn, lower the veteran unemployment rate.

Opening in July of 2020, Junk Platoon offers junk removal services within the Edmond and OKC metro area. With a focus on lowering veteran unemployment, Junk Platoon offers hiring preferences for veterans and military spouses. Todd also donates proceeds to two military-focused nonprofits: The Mighty Oaks Foundation and Bunker Labs.

Both Chad and Todd are inspiring developing businesses that offer veterans an opportunity to reclaim their identity and connect with other service members in a new way. When you support veteran-owned businesses, you are giving back to a multitude of veterans who selflessly served this country.

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About Kelly Vaughn

Kelly Vaughn completed her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Maryland-European Division while living overseas as a military spouse. She holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Central Oklahoma, where she is also employed. She is a graduate of Leadership Edmond, Class XXV and is actively involved in the Edmond community. Kelly enjoys business and leadership books and podcasts, spending time with her family, attending concerts, and traveling.