Be More Creative With Your Veteran T-Shirts, Please

Humor

I feel obligated to preface this harangue with the statement that the attached video is not a knock against any military or veteran-owned apparel company who’s out there hustling original ideas, concepts, content, and designs. Those companies are hiring vets and putting out well-thought products that often give back to the very people they’re selling them to. This is, objectively, a good thing.


That said, if I have to see one more Facebook ad hawking generic, vaguely-branded moto shirts that attempt to portray veterans as simpletons to turn a quick buck, I’m going to take my notional head and slam it through a notional glass window where I will notionally bleed out and notionally die, thus saving me from ever having to see one of those shirts again.

Jack takes on the T Shirt industry.

I’m sure you’ve seen these things pop up, too. It’s a simple formula.

  • Step 1: Create a Facebook page where you habitually steal other people’s content to grow numbers with the specific intentions to sell a product.
  • Step 2: Give your page a highly generic, SEO-friendly name that will mask as some sort of philanthropic organization.
  • Step 3: Think of the gaudiest design and copy imaginable for your apparel products, then find a print-on-demand platform that will facilitate.
  • Step 4: Master Facebook ads and target people who are highly susceptible to said ads.
  • Step 5: Collect money and laugh your way to the bank as people purchase from a page that hides behind anonymity. Like, seriously, nobody has the ability to vet you, your intentions, or your background. They literally have no idea that you’re profiting off them in an egregiously disingenuous fashion.   

And that’s how that works. If you’re buying from these Facebook pages, I promise you that you’re buying from people who are in the business of military- or veteran-themed apparel purely to take you for all you're worth.

I used to be mad that they existed, but then I realized that the type of person who falls for that kind of stuff deserves to have their money taken from them for a product that will shrink after one wash and make people normal people completely disregard them as a human being.

These messages aren’t about pride in service. They’re a statement by insecure people who haven’t accomplished anything anywhere else. Let’s put it this way: If you’re a veteran who became independently wealthy, attained a high education, or went on to other notable successes, you’re not going to be wearing a shirt that screams “I’m overcompensating at a Ph.D. level” because chances are your military service is a pride-filled footnote in a well-lived life.

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Along the way, Addario captured images of plenty of women serving with pride in uniform, not only in the U.S. armed forces, but also on the battlefields of Syria, Colombia, South Sudan and Israel. Her photographs are the subject of a new article in the November 2019 special issue of National Geographic, "Women: A Century of Change," the magazine's first-ever edition written and photographed exclusively by women.

The photos showcase the wide range of goals and ideals for which these women took up arms. Addario's work includes captivating vignettes of a seasoned guerrilla fighter in the jungles of Colombia; a team of Israeli military police patrolling the streets of Jerusalem; and a unit of Kurdish women guarding ISIS refugees in Syria. Some fight to prove themselves, others seek to ignite social change in their home country, and others do it to liberate other women from the grip of ISIS.

Addario visited several active war zones for the piece, but she found herself shaken by something much closer to home: the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina.

Addario discussed her visit to boot camp and her other travels in an interview with Task & Purpose, which has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

Air Force Master Sgt. John "Chappy" Chapman is my brother. As one of an elite group, Air Force Combat Control — the deadliest and most badass band of brothers to walk a battlefield — John gave his life on March 4, 2002 for brothers he never knew.

They were the brave men who comprised a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) that had been called in to rescue the SEAL Team 6 team (Mako-30) with whom he had been embedded, which left him behind on Takur Ghar, a desolate mountain in Afghanistan that topped out at over 10,000 feet.

As I learned while researching a book about John, the SEAL ground commander, Cmdr. Tim Szymanski, had stupidly and with great hubris insisted on insertion being that night. After many delays, the mission should and could have been pushed one day, but Szymanski ordered the team to proceed as planned, and Britt "Slab" Slabinski, John's team leader, fell into step after another SEAL team refused the mission.

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Photo: ABC News/screenshot

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Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

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Mullen, a career infantry officer who has led troops in combat — including in Fallujah, Iraq — said Marines have likely been complaining about falling standards since 1775.

"I'm assuming that the second Marine walking into Tun Tavern was like 'You know ... our standards have gone down. They're just not the same as it they used to be,'" Mullen said, referring to the service's famous birthplace. "That has always been going on in the history of the Marine Corps."

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