Employing and empowering American veterans

Blog post by Christine Ross

Christine Ross, the president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, has 20 years of leadership experience in the business community. She is a visionary coalition builder guiding the Maryland Chamber’s efforts to improve competitiveness, attract and retain talent, grow jobs, engage the community and provide legislative advocacy.

Have you ever experienced an unexpected act of kindness that made you look at the world a little differently? A meaningful, out of the blue, good deed that warmed your heart and left you in a state of reflection?

A few weeks ago, my staff and I experienced this notion firsthand after receiving a gift from our members at Stanley Black & Decker. Much to our surprise, they sent us a beautiful, handcrafted American flag made from wood by Flags of Valor.

While the beauty of the flag is what first impressed me, upon researching Flags of Valor, a greater story began to unfold. I learned that Flags of Valor is a veteran-owned and operated business that has raised more than $300,000 for veteran and first-responder charities.

Mission and service

For nearly 15-years, Brian Steorts served our country as a special operations pilot before founding Flags of Valor. During this time, he spent eight consecutive combat deployments in the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Horn of Africa.

When he returned to the states after a service-related injury, Steorts found himself with his sleeves rolled up, doing woodwork. Using American-made tools and materials, he devoted himself to building, what he describes as, custom pieces of pure Americana. And so, Flags of Valor was born.

As his woodworking skills improved, his passion project became a scalable Veteran-owned, -operated and -made business with a twofold mission: to provide combat veterans with opportunity and promote the belief that ‘Made in America’ still matters.

The tools for success

From providing truckloads of tools to expert advice, DeWalt, a subsidiary of Stanley Black & Decker, has helped Flags of Valor fulfill its mission from the start. Their American-made tools enable the Flags of Valor workshop to ‘do more, faster,’ while their engineers have provided invaluable mentorship to the craftsmen, most of whom are service-disable with significant combat-related injuries.

Together, DeWalt and Flags of Valor honor America’s heroes and support our veterans as they transition back to civilian life.

A stronger future

Not only do we commend DeWalt and Flags of Valor, we support them. Our Maryland Chamber Foundation encourages workforce development initiatives that build a stronger state for all Marylanders.

This spring, the Maryland Chamber will host its first event with an emphasis on expanding opportunities for veterans. I’m excited to bring our dedicated businesses, transitioning service members and veterans together, and to facilitate workforce development, networking and support.

If your business is interested in participating in our event this spring, please contact Special Events Coordinator Marie Rau for more information: mrau@mdchamber.org.

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