“Sleep well tonight, your National Guard is awake.”
This motto was a great statement in recognition of the service of our Guard units. Thankfully, our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard are also awake so that we can all rest well.
It is mission-critical on Veterans Day and beyond that we recognize the debt of gratitude we owe to our military members and their families, especially during this time of global unrest. It’s the right thing to do for so many reasons, and, as an Air Force veteran, it is important to me personally and professionally.
I joined the military in 1969 and spent seven years in the Air Force flying C-130s. In our all-volunteer military, those currently serving in our nation’s military are doing so by choice. These men and women are choosing to make sacrifices required to serve our country to ensure our freedom. One thing they didn’t choose was to take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt just to pursue the education often needed to pursue a host of civilian careers.
The team members, clients, and partners of the business my wife and I founded almost 30 years ago, Sport Clips Haircuts, make it a priority each year to give back to those who serve. We call it “Help A Hero,” and we do so in many ways at the local and national levels in hundreds of communities throughout the country. One of those ways is through a scholarship program created with and administered by the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
It is the largest scholarship program of its kind in the United States.
Administered by the VFW, these scholarships cover up to $5,000 of tuition and fees for recipients enrolled in public and private institutions, technical schools, and certificate programs. Payments are made directly to the school on behalf of the recipient, allowing veterans to focus on what really matters — their studies, their families, and their educational goals.
We work to let veterans and service members and their families know they are valued and that the sacrifices they make in safeguarding the America we know and love are appreciated and not forgotten.
Each year, 200,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines separate from the service to start their civilian careers. The GI Bill funds much of the needed education for technical and advanced certificates and degrees; however, it does not meet all these veterans’ needs.
The weight of student loan debt is a $1.75 trillion load on the backs of more than 40 million borrowers, with a heavy toll falling directly onto our nation’s veterans.
College tuition inflation continues to rise, and veterans’ educational benefits are stretched so thin that many need additional financial support. While the GI Bill covers the costs of most undergraduate and technical degrees and advanced certificates, it often falls short of meeting the full needs of a veteran’s academic goals — especially if that veteran is seeking an extended degree or graduate program or transfers those benefits to a dependent.
In 2021, it was reported that more than 300,000 veterans have student loan debt, with at least 10% in default on those loans. And with President Joe Biden’s $400 billion student loan forgiveness program currently stalled, there’s no real immediate relief in sight. But the bigger issue is, veterans who’ve made the sacrifices to serve in the military shouldn’t be carrying student loan debt at all.
To do our part, now through Nov. 12, participating Sport Clips Haircuts locations will collect donations at checkout from our generous clients and through community fundraisers. There’s also an easy “text to donate” option by texting “HERO” to 71777. Together with our franchisees in all 50 states, we will donate $2 for every haircare service provided throughout the country on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. (This will add up to over $100,000 in that one day!) Most of our 1,850 locations will also offer free haircuts for those with valid active duty and retired military IDs, but it’s important to check with local stores first to confirm that they are participating.
To date, we have awarded over $11 million in scholarships to veterans for everything from social workers to physicians’ assistants to doctors, nurses, and lawyers. This year, our goal is to add another $1.7 million to the Help A Hero fund to extend the 2,400 scholarships awarded since 2014 to even more deserving veterans. Together, we can make a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of veterans and their families as a small token of our appreciation. We encourage you to join us in this most worthwhile program to say, “Thank you for your service.”
Gordon Logan, an Air Force veteran who flew missions in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam war, is the founder and chairman of Sport Clips Haircuts, which offers veterans preferential pricing on haircuts and franchises and was named a 2021 Top Franchise for Veterans by Entrepreneur.