Our beginnings and Veterans Advantage’s founder’s roots go back to 1967 and Scott Higgins's service in the Vietnam War. Since our formal launch in 2001, we’ve been growing with the support of our active duty, veterans, and their families, who join our mission to ensure that they, and generations of service members to come, get the respect, recognition, and rewards they deserve for service to our country.
Scott Higgins graduates from Gettysburg College. On graduation day, he receives his Army commission as a lieutenant after completing ROTC and his orders for Vietnam.
Scott heads to Vietnam and serves as a supply officer in Bien Hoa at the headquarters of II Field Force, 20 miles northeast of Saigon. He sees action when North Vietnamese troops attack during the Tet Offensive at 3 a.m. on January 31, 1968, the first day of the Vietnamese New Year.
Scott is grateful to return home uninjured from Vietnam. However, as the national controversy over the war continues, Scott and his fellow soldiers are not welcomed back to America. He vows to make sure their service and sacrifices are not forgotten.
Scott contributes his Vietnam War experience to Everything We Had: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Thirty-Three American Soldiers Who Fought It, the book by Al Santoli. Santoli served in Vietnam in 1968–1969 as a sergeant with the U.S. 25th Infantry Division and received a Bronze Star for valor and three Purple Hearts.
Scott supplies his personal funds for Bobby Muller, a disabled Marine Corps Vietnam veteran, to help keep the doors of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) open. Bobby, founder of the VVA, and Scott are friends and former high school wrestlers. VVA becomes the only congressionally chartered Vietnam Veteran organization in America. Its founding principle is “never again will one generation of veterans abandon another.”
Ed Koch, New York City’s mayor and a World War II veteran, asks Scott to help the city recognize New York’s Vietnam Veterans. Despite a busy Wall Street career, Scott volunteers to spearhead what becomes a 100-member New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission. Launching the campaign “It’s Time,” Scott and the commission seek to fund a Memorial. They host an international design competition and search for a suitable Manhattan location for the memorial.
Scott continues to lead the commission as it publishes Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam. The book, which is a collection of soldiers’ letters submitted for the memorial, goes on to become a national bestseller and would print in eight editions. HBO will go on and win its first Emmy from the film adaptation of Dear America. A documentary of the making of the film by Bill Couterie is nominated for an Academy Award. Both the book and movie will become popular in high school classrooms to teach the history of the Vietnam War.
Along with Scott, his spouse Lin, and his fellow commission members, thousands of New Yorkers, Vietnam veterans, and their families attend the evening dedication of the New York City Vietnam Veterans Memorial at 55 Water Street with a fireworks display over the East River. The illuminated glass memorial — engraved with excerpts of soldiers’ letters written home from Vietnam — is both a moving testimonial and lasting remembrance of those who served and sacrificed. The next day, Scott, his co-chair Donald Trump, and fellow Commission members march in a long-overdue “Welcome Home” parade they have organized on Broadway. Mayor Koch leads the parage pushing a Medal of Honor recipient in a wheelchair. It is the largest ticker-tape parade in New York City history, with more than 1 million Americans who have come to participate both as spectators and marchers from across the nation.
Scott leaves Wall Street and starts Veterans Advantage with Lin, who is also a former Wall Street executive. They are inspired to use their corporate skills and personal funds to continue the work of the commission on a national level. Their mission: to thank those who serve, every day, by creating greater respect, recognition, and rewards for military veterans and their family members.
Veterans Advantage, with its goal to thank veterans and families with the gift of new benefits every day of the year, is a pioneering concept launched prior to 9/11. Lin and Scott support the organization's startup with their personal savings as they are unable to gain any engagement from potential supporters who believe that “all veterans are old and dying…”
Veterans Advantage forges its first partnership with the National Railroad Passenger Corporation — better known as Amtrak — for everyday military savings on rail tickets for its members. The discount is redeemed and eligibility is verified while protecting veterans’ privacy with a proprietary algorithm that Veterans Advantage develops with Amtrak. A unique10-digit travel code is issued for each member to be used online at Amtrak.com, by Amtrak reservation phone line and in stations along with their VetRewards Card ID.
Amtrak and Veterans Advantage officially announce their new partnership that offers special discounts on rail fares for Veterans Advantage members.
On Presidents Day, VeteransAdvantage.com is officially launched. The first Veterans Advantage member enrolls online at 2:30 in the morning while serving aboard a nuclear submarine. Avis and Budget join Veterans Advantage’s coalition of partners.
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, all travel grinds to a halt and public transportation suffers for the next two and a half years. Veterans Advantage promotes 50% off Amtrak to fill the trains with our members. Eligibility is expanded to include National Guard and Reservists.
Veterans Advantage acquires the AOL keywords "Veterans Advantage" and "VetRewards.” May: Veterans Advantage teams up with Dell to offer savings of up to 10% on select computers and software for military personnel, veterans, and their families.
Apple and Greyhound join Veterans Advantage’s coalition of partners.
Veterans Advantage creates an exclusive discount for its members with Continental Airlines. Continental eventually merges with United Airlines to become one of the largest airlines in the world. United’s Veterans Advantage discount is the only everyday airline discount in the market.
Due to concerns about the growing rate of identity theft among military members and veterans, Veterans Advantage introduces an identity theft restoration benefit to help protect its members’ private information.
Dollar Rent a Car and Thrifty Car Rental join Veterans Advantage’s coalition of partners with an offer of special savings for military personnel, veterans, and their families.
Veterans Advantage donates 70,000 VetRewards Cards to Operation Gratitude and 140,000 VetRewards Cards to Operation Care and Comfort to be sent in care packages for troops deployed overseas in Iraq and Afganistan.
Veterans Advantage donates 66,000 VetRewards Cards to Operation Gratitude and 20,000 VetRewards Cards to Operation Care and Comfort to be sent in care packages for troops deployed overseas in Iraq and Afganistan.
Veterans Advantage donates 61,485 VetRewards Cards to Operation Gratitude to be sent in care packages for troops deployed overseas in Iraq and Afganistan.
Foot Locker, Inc., which includes Foot Locker, Lady Foot Locker, Kids Foot Locker, Footaction, Champs Sports and Eastbay, partners with Veterans Advantage to offer its members discounts of up to 15% off on footwear and apparel.
Veterans Advantage donate 62,000 VetRewards cards to Operation Gratitude for care packages for troops deployed overseas.
Verizon Wireless starts accepting the VetRewards Card as an official form of veteran identification in its stores nationwide for discounts on wireless service and accessories.
Wendy’s joins Veterans Advantage’s coalition of partners to reward military service with special discounts delivered through a customized WendyMail program.
Veterans Advantage donates 50,000 VetRewards Cards to Operation Gratitude for troops deployed overseas.
United Airlines’ merger with Continental Airlines is made effective online at United.com; United officially joins Veterans Advantage’s coalition of partners.
Syracuse University partners with Veterans Advantage to provide free VetRewards Cards for its student veterans.
Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy issues a press release announcing the state’s new partnership with Veterans Advantage that includes the Veterans Advantage Scholarship Program, which is featured on the Department of Veterans Affairs homepage.
The Westchester Aviation Association (WAA) designates Veterans Advantage as their honoree at the Westchester Business Takes Flight event, which recognizes the work of Veterans Advantage with a financial award. Paul Bucha, Medal of Honor recipient and Veterans Advantage Board of Advisors member, is the keynote speaker, and Scott is also invited to speak to the 250 community leaders, prominent senior executives and elected officials in attendance.
In New York City, Veterans Advantage’s VetRewards Card is named the “Official Card of Veterans Week NYC” at a press conference at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum. In his proclamation, Mayor Michael Bloomberg defines the Veterans Week NYC mission: “To honor, recognize and thank America’s veterans, military, and their families.”CVS/pharmacy teams up with Veterans Advantage to reward military service with discounts on CVS.com combinable other limited-time promotional offers.
Veterans Advantage receives the Wings Club Award, presented to Scott by Bruce Whitman, president of the Wings Club and president and CEO of FlightSafety International. Whitman cites Veterans Advantage’s outstanding commitment to our nation’s military, veterans and their families through the establishment of this unique veterans’ benefits program.
CVS/pharmacy increases its discount for Veterans Advantage members and adds free shipping with no mimimum purchase.
JetBlue and Veterans Advantage announced their partnership that creates a new discount off travel to 86 destinations for Veterans Advantage members.Later, JetBlue adds two free bags to its benefit offerings.
Amtrak increases its benefit for Veterans Advantage members for same-day travel and adds benefits for immediate family members.
Veterans Advantage expands its offerings by becoming the official military verify solution provider for 1800Flowers.com.
Veterans Advantage comes out on top with our hotel and exclusive travel savings when compared to other membership programs like AAA and AARP. Veterans Advantage member Richard Kerr, a Navy Veteran, gives an outstanding Veterans Advantage review on his popular travel review website The Points Guy.
The new Veterans Advantage Digital Development Office opens in Salt Lake City, Utah. November: Universal Orlando Resort partners with Veterans Advantage to launch exclusive military benefits on its travel packages to its popular theme parks and resorts.
Veterans Advantage is reincorporated as a public benefit corporation (PBC), as it continues to create and sustain positive social change through our mission. It’s just a new name, as we’ve always measured our success by how well we serve our nation’s veteran and military communities.
MORE TO COME!