Veteran's Day Special: 5 Veteran-Owned Green Businesses

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Veteran’s Day usually involves lots of flag-waving, parades, and expressions of gratitude for military service… all well-deserved by those who dedicate a portion of their lives to the armed forces. We tend to focus on the concepts of national security and defense in these celebrations… but, equally as important, is the spirit of serving the greater good that these men and women often carry with them after separating from active duty.

For many veterans returning from recent conflicts, environmental and energy issues have taken a high priority in their value systems… and of this group, a few have made it their livelihood by starting green businesses. These former soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines recognize the role that resource conservation plays in national security and further economic growth… and most would rather not see their comrades fighting in parts of the world made important by their oil reserves.

Check out these five green vet-owned businesses… and if you’d like to find others, take a look at the various eco-business categories at

  1. Everblue Training Institute: Like many veterans of the Iraq War, West Point graduate Chris Boggiano returned home wanting to do something about the US’ reliance on oil from other countries… some of which don’t like us very much. His answer: Charlotte, NC-based Everblue Training Institute, which provides training and exam preparation for those looking to enter the green building and renewable energy fields.
  2. FuelClinic: Founded by former Navy man Michael Bragg, Apopka, Florida-based FuelClinic provides online tools and training for saving gas while driving. The service touts its ability to not only help drivers track their fuel efficiency, but also to measure the effectiveness of driving behaviors.
  3. Garrity Renewables: You might expect an energy-focused business from the name, but Army reservist Justen Garrity’s Maryland-based company focuses on the renewal of organic waste… by turning it into compost. That’s just one element of the business… Garrity also provides recycling collection, waste stream analysis, and even sells some of the outputs of its efforts, such as compost and mulch.
  4. Green Things Manufacturing: Retired Navy Master Chief Barry Hemphill didnt just want to help the environment with his business venture; he also wanted to create jobs for his fellow vets. Green Things Manufacturing does both: it creates industrial-strength green cleaning products, and is working to develop a network of plants for green building materials around the country that hire disabled veterans.
  5. Heartland Alternative Energy: Based in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Heartland offers “turn-key installation and integration of renewable energy systems.” Retired soldier Charles Welegala attributes the businesses success, in part, to the sense of responsibility he learned during his time in uniform.

Thinking about thanking a vet for his or her service this Veteran’s Day? Keep in mind that their time in the armed forces may have just been the beginning… and they may still be serving their communities, and the planet, through entrepreneurial activity. Let us know about other green veteran-owned businesses you think deserve attention.

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog, a green blog and product comparison engine. Looking to green up your own business? Check out our current listing of eco office supplies.

Image credit: grcc_cpm at Flickr under a Creative Commons license


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