Military & Veterans Life

Cover Story: How & Why WeSalute Was Founded 25 Years Ago


WeSalute founders Scott and Lin Higgins have spent a lifetime in the military community, from Scott’s combat service in Vietnam and the service of Lin’s father in WWII, to serving families and veterans through the creation of memorials and parades as part of charitable and government initiatives. It was this lifetime of service that led them to establish WeSalute, originally founded as Veterans Advantage, and to continue giving back.


Scott Higgins - Vietnam Vet, co-founder, and co-CEO of WeSalute 

Scott Higgins is the co-founder and co-chief executive officer (CEO) of WeSalute, as well as a Vietnam War Veteran and former Army Lieutenant with a family legacy of military service. Scott began his service in the Army ROTC program at Gettysburg College. On the same day he graduated with a history degree in 1967, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and received his orders for Vietnam. By October 5th of that same year, he was stationed at Hq., 2nd Field Force Vietnam as a supply officer. 

Just two months later, the headquarters successfully defended itself against an attack by North Vietnam Army troops during the Tet Offensive, which began January 30, 1968.

“Like so many others, I did not ask to go to Vietnam. I had raised my right hand, though, and taken the oath of office and was committed to serve,” Scott said.

When he returned to the United States after his service, there were no parades or special events to welcome him back. Scott returned to an America that showed little understanding or respect for what he and his fellow vets had endured while fighting and serving their country overseas. In many cases, it was held against veterans. Some veterans avoided putting their military service on their resume for fear of being labeled a “Rambo.”

Scott wanted to change this. “After 10 years of war, the country wanted to forget the war. It ignored the brave service and sacrifice of Vietnam Veterans. I was determined to do something about that.”

the country wanted to forget the war

While pursuing a career on Wall Street, Scott provided financial support for the Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) organization, as it struggled to establish itself as a service organization. He traveled to Vietnam on a non-diplomatic mission to address the issues of Agent Orange, missing in action (MIA’s), and the Amerasian children. The CBS news team accompanied the mission and produced four segments from Vietnam. 

These advocacy efforts caught the attention of the Mayor of New York. The Mayor appointed Scott to co-chair the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission. 

“There wasn't any money available, so we had to go out and raise it, and it was difficult,” Scott said. “Companies didn't want to contribute because, like the American public, they wanted to forget a war that had gone on for over 10 years. Nevertheless, we persisted and ultimately prevailed.”

The Commission built a stunning memorial in lower Manhattan, created a jobs program for Vietnam Vets, and organized the first “Welcome Home Parade” for Vietnam Vets, 10 years after the end of the war. It published the best selling book, Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam, and the award-winning movie by the same name, the making of which was nominated for an Academy Award. 


Over 25,000 Veterans finally got the recognition they deserved during what was the largest ticker tape parade in the history of New York City, with over 1 million people turning out to thank them for their service. 


For Scott, this hit home. “Helping to build our memorial and hold the first Vietnam Veteran parade is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had in my life. I am proud and grateful that the message of the parade spread across the country, and people began to recognize Vietnam vets for their service and their sacrifices. Importantly, we now say ‘thank you for your service’ and never again will we ignore those who go to war and their families and forget them for their sacrifices.

Scott’s role in the creation of the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial, a monumental achievement for Vietnam vets, and his ongoing advocacy for veterans inspired him to find a way to honor military and veterans every day.

Lin Higgins


Lin Higgins, military spouse, and daughter of WWII Veteran

In 1999, he and Lin, a daughter of a WWII Marine Corps Officer, having worked tirelessly together to make the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial a reality, took that experience to co-found Veterans Advantage.

Flash forward to today where WeSalute, the new face and “uniform” of Veterans Advantage, continues its quarter century mission to create ‘greater respect, recognition, and rewards’ for those who serve and their families.

“Those who serve and their family members are such an important group for us to take care of ” says Lin Higgins. “Family members are often not given the recognition they deserve. We believe that when one person in the family serves, the whole family serves, she added.” 

With the launch of its veterans’ membership card on Presidents Day, 2001, WeSalute established the first national military discount in America by partnering with Amtrak, the national passenger railroad. The first WeSalute member enrolled from a nuclear submarine stationed in the Pacific, at 2:30AM.

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