Dog Tag honors fallen soldiers

Joshua Riley
May 20, 2017
Memorial Day weekend is one of the busiest weekends for the beer industry year-round. It seems to serve as a kick-off for the days of summer: That three-day weekend, the warming weather, the lawns to rebuild after winter has wrecked them and the grills to dust off and fire up for the holiday.

This year, I want to focus on a beer company that takes Memorial Day very seriously.

Dog Tag Brewing Foundation is an organization that helps other nonprofit organizations in what it calls Building Legacy Grants. It partners with Pabst Brewing Company to brew and distribute their flagship beer Dog Tag Lager, according to their website, and 100 percent of the profits are donated back to the foundation.

You can find Dog Tag Legacy Lager at plenty of different places; specifically in our area, Liquor World and Liquor Lot, both in Kankakee, usually stock it. Something you will notice is each can is emblazoned with the name of a Fallen Warrior, along with with details of their service, sacrifice and how to get involved in Gold Star Family legacy building projects.

Dog Tag Brewing Foundation has a three-tiered approach to their mission in serving Gold Star Families — or families that have lost a member in the military, including offering grants to foundations serving these families and free consulting services.

Those free services include startup training and development, strategic planning, website and logo development and fundraising strategies, according to the website.

The last part of their three-tiered system is the cans themselves raise awareness of their mission, doing the actual work of building the legacy of actual Fallen Warriors, whose names, rank, service and sacrifice are displayed there for consumers to read and honor the legacies.

I sat down with Justin Busby, the national director of Dog Tag Brewing Foundation Ambassador Program, to talk about this foundation's impact.

In the spirit of this awesome foundation, I dedicate this column to my cousin, Denium Goodell, United States Army Staff Sergeant retired, who lost fellow soldiers and friends: Staff Sargent Clayton Bowen, Specialist Huey Fassbender and Sargents First Class Alwyn C. Cashe and Riley G. Stephens.

What local connections are there to the Dog Tag Brewing Foundation?

Robert and Mary Patterson's son, Army Specialist Chris Patterson, was killed in action Jan 6, 2012. The couple is from Aurora.

Dog Tag Brewing Foundation has been working with the family the past year to launch Dog Tag Brewing's Legacy Lager at all the Chicagoland Binny's Beverage Depots around the toasting of SPC Chris Patterson.

A toasting was held at the Binny's in Lincoln Park on Veteran's Day 2016 and allowed friends and family to share Chris' stories and for others to learn more about this Fallen Warrior and his passions. The Pattersons were overwhelmed by all who attended the event and the donations showed the true effect the Pattersons and their Foundation will be able to accomplish with respect to legacy building initiatives in Chris' honor. The event netted $6,500 in donations with a large donation from a local Chicago sports star.

Are there any upcoming events to support this cause?

Aug. 5 will be a ride in Chris' memory, and they have a goal of 200-plus riders and $4,000 in donations, which will be split between The Midwest Shelter for Homeless Veterans and Immanuel Lutheran School Performing Arts.

How did you get connected to Dog Tag personally?

"I have been connected with some of the founding DTBF board members since my time at the Naval Academy, and I was always inspired when I would learn about another Gold Star Family they were working with to ensure that Fallen Warrior's name remained alive," Busby said.

"The passion that ... the team conveyed was so real and the impact they were having with the families was significant. Nobody else was doing what they were doing. Amongst a forest of all the nonprofits out there, somehow Gold Star Families were being overlooked.

"As I continued to stay abreast of all the different legacy building initiatives, I was driven to do more within my own sphere and I became overwhelmed with the DTB team's contagious passion to support and enhance these families' efforts. ... [I am] so thankful for the opportunity because the mission is so important, and we need to realize everyone's help to ensure we are there to back the many families of our nation's fallen military," Busby said.

Other than buy the beer, how can my readers get involved locally?

"Be inspired by the dog tags that are on the cans. The dedication cans are not meant to be a depressing reminder that one of our bravest was lost, but rather a vehicle to celebrate that Fallen Warrior. Read the name of that Warrior out loud. Take time to go to the Dog Tag Brewing website and learn about their life and their family's efforts to keep their Warrior's name alive. If you see that their passions align with yours, follow-up with a donation to that family's foundation. Most of all, though, it is important to be inspired and be advocates of the DTB mission, so we can continue to grow and reach as many Americans as possible."

Can my readers submit names for consideration? If so, what is the process?

"Unfortunately, the creation of the Dedication Cans is not within our scope as a Foundation. In fact, Dog Tag Brewing Foundation is not involved in the creation, brewing and distribution of Legacy Lager. This is handled exclusively by Pabst Brewing Company. Due to production constraints, there are a limited number of variations of Dedication Cans that can be made in any production cycle, but the Foundation's goal remains steadfast: To maximize impact irrespective of the number of Dedication Cans that can be made."