Black Rifle Coffee Company's Tim Pachasa and Mat Best represent BRCC during the check presentation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Retired Maj. Gen. Clay Hutmacher is the president and CEO of SOWF, and Cole Hauser serves on the board of directors. Photo by Benjamin Pennington/Coffee or Die.
Memorial Day is on the other side of the weekend, and there is nothing more fitting than connecting with the community most impacted by the reason this holiday exists: our Gold Star families. In an effort to continue Black Rifle Coffee Company’s mission of supporting the veteran community, BRCC recently donated $517,618 to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
This donation will fund SOWF’s preschool education program for an entire calendar year.
In addition to the donation, BRCC co-founder Mat Best produced a truly touching Memorial Day video to bring attention to SOWF and provide more awareness around its mission of supporting the children of fallen special operations personnel.
“If you have the ability, whether it's as a business or a personality, and you have a large platform, I think that you’re beholden to use that impact for good,” Best said. “In my case, the veteran community is what I care about, so I’m more than happy to use my creative skills and also the emotion I have surrounding my own service and friends I’ve lost, combining all of that as a vessel for my own mental health and subsequently helping others.”
During Best’s time in service, he lost teammates, including a mentor, from 2nd Ranger Battalion and learned that SOWF would be supporting the children of the fallen soldiers.
“It hit very close to home, and well before I knew that I would be in the business I am now, I just thought it was really cool that they were focusing on the family unit and taking care of the children,” Best said.
“It’s humbling — the fact that I get to interface with organizations like SOWF,” he added. “My whole philanthropic focus is dedicated to veterans and kids, and this pairing of both and being able to see the direct impact that a donation from BRCC can have on this organization and those families, it’s amazing.”
Photos of SOWF scholarship recipients with handwritten notes from each child line the walls at the organization's headquarters. Photo by Benjamin Pennington/Coffee or Die.
Best said incorporating SOWF into his video this year was a no-brainer, especially considering how the organization has been able to expand support to special operations families who lose a spouse. Given the story told in Best’s Memorial Day video, this expansion announcement ties into the message in a compelling and emotional way.
“Think about a guy whose full-time profession is to carry a gun and go into the most dangerous environments; their spouse is a big deal,” Best said. “Keeping the home together and keeping the family’s sanity, sometimes it’s harder for the spouses than the operators. Now imagine an operator who tragically loses their spouse but still has a job to do and a family to support; SOWF is able to help them now."
Retired Maj. Gen. Clay Hutmacher, who currently serves as president and CEO of SOWF, understands the organization’s importance. During his time in service, Hutmacher commanded the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment. Best and Hutmacher’s missions overlapped, and both deployed to the same battlespaces in Iraq.
Ryan Soltes speaks at the SOWF Gala. Soltes graduated from Azusa Pacific University with his bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in organizational psychology. Soltes is the surviving son of US Army Maj. Charles Soltes, who died in 2004 while assigned to the 426th Civil Affairs Battalion. Photo by Sami Montanez.
“The special ops community does an exceptional job of honoring our fallen, but the fact is, when the memorials and funerals are over, we have a job to return to, and the families need an enduring commitment,” Hutmacher told Coffee or Die.
“They need someone to be there for these kids who have really had their life flipped upside down in the blink of an eye,” he added. “This foundation represents that commitment to the families. It’s more than a check; our mission is to be with the families every step of the way.”
Statistically, preschool attendance enhances the chances of a child going into post-secondary education, and it sets the foundation for critical lifelong skills like reading.
“I think the future is SOWF being there for these families, and some that don’t even know or think that they need our support yet,” Hutmacher said. “But we have to be prepared and hold ourselves accountable to the values of the organization so we are always in a position to support these families.”
Lauren Warner is the managing editor of the BRCC Blog. She's only slightly connected to the military community, growing up as an Army brat before serving in the Army herself as a public affairs specialist, then becoming an Army spouse and caregiver. With degrees in English, journalism, and a master's in marketing, to say that she enjoys reading and writing might be an understatement. She spends her free time drinking too much coffee and going on adventures with her husband and three dogs (yes, they're all rescues).
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