Six-Packs for Soldiers
What do you get when you match a former activist for MoveOn.org with the former chief national spokesman for the National Rifle Association (NRA)? You’d expect a lot of hot air, politics and maybe some accidental gunshots; but give them each a beer and a common mission, and you’ve got Six Packs for Soldiers—a “beer-partisan” campaign with a single goal: Buy America’s soldiers a beer. The concept is easy: 1) Take a photo of yourself toasting the troops; 2) upload it to SixPacksForSoldiers.com; and 3) they’ll deliver “a real beer to a real soldier.”
This neutral campaign of beer was founded by John Hlinko and Bill McIntyre, who currently work together at Grassroots Enterprise (grassroots.com), a firm that specializes in creating movements for causes, companies and products. We had a chance to talk to Hlinko and learn more.
BA: Why did you start SixPacksForSoldiers.com, and how did this motley crew come together in the name of beer?
JH: Well, Bill and I work together, and come from very different ends of the political spectrum. I worked with MoveOn.org in the past, and Bill was formerly the chief national spokesman for the NRA, but while we disagreed on a lot of political stuff, we were very much in sync in our support of our troops. I think in part since we’re both sons of vets, but also because we recognize just how incredible these troops are. I mean, I don’t think people fully internalize just how much these guys do: They volunteer to serve the country and potentially be dropped in the middle of hostile territory where people they don’t even know are trying to kill them with an assemblage of weapons that most movie villains could only dream of. Most Americans don’t even like driving through a bad neighborhood. These guys volunteer to go to the “baddest” possible neighborhood on the face of the earth. That’s pretty incredible.
Anyway, we thought the least we could do was offer them a beer. It’s not the biggest thing in the world, but hey, at least it’s a small token of our appreciation for all they do. And as you can see by the site, we’ve tried to list a slew of other things that people can do to help our troops, particularly those who might be returning from combat with disabilities or other challenges.
Has there been any soldier response from the effort?
Heck yeah, there have actually been some great stories posted on the site from real soldiers—either overseas or here in the States, sending a shout-out to their buddies overseas. Equally gratifying has been the stories from family members of active duty troops (many posted in the toasts as well). I think they recognize that sometimes a beer is not just a beer, but a classic American symbol of “thanks.”
Awesome. We have to ask: What beer are you sending returning soldiers?
Well, we’ve had some real nice conversations with the good people at Sam Adams [Boston Beer Company], and they’ve volunteered to donate at least some of the beer for this effort. This is incredibly cool on multiple fronts. First, Sam Adams makes fantastic beer. Second, what better beer for this effort than one named for one of America’s greatest patriots? And finally, to their credit, Sam Adams isn’t looking for PR on this; they just liked the effort, want to support the troops and have offered their help.
Behold the power of beer! Now if we can only get the world powers to meet up over some brews—hey, it’s a dream of ours. Anyway, the submission period has been extended to Labor Day, September 3. To post your virtual toast, view others and learn more: sixpacksforsoldiers.com. ■