ASHBURN, Va. - Motivated to produce something "Made in America”, veteran Brain Steorts launched Flags of Valor to bring jobs to ex-military. Dedicated to remembering, employing, and empowering veterans, the company says it was founded on the simple truths that combat veterans deserve opportunity, “Made in America” matters, and it should never stop giving back.
The company was recently recognized by the Washington Business Journal (WBJ) through its inaugural Veterans in Business Awards. According to the WBJ, these awards honor military veteran business leaders for outstanding practices in business as well as in supporting fellow veterans in the workplace and beyond. The company not only won the event’s Veteran-Owned Business Award, but also handcrafted the awards presented at the ceremony.
Flags of Valor produces various collections of wooden U.S flags, an idea that began with Steorts’ passion for woodworking while recuperating from combat injuries. After donating several handmade wooden American flags to the families of fallen explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) soldiers, Steorts transformed his passion into the veteran-operated company.
The majority of the company’s craftsmen are service-disabled, with significant combat-related injuries. Flags of Valor says that through the artistry of crafting rustic wooden American flags, it has created an environment where these veterans can thrive in the transition from military service and deployment.
According to the company’s site, Flags of Valor has employed over 55 combat veterans since its founding and has fulfilled demand for over 73,000 hours of American Veteran Manufacturing Labor. In addition, the company reports that it has raised $807K for veteran and first responder charities and works tirelessly to promote veteran issues and stories of courage.
The company explains that each wooden flag begins its journey as raw wood from southern pine forests. Each plank is hand-selected for its grain, knots, and natural characteristics, then assembled into a blank canvas. It is then stained and hand-painted before going through an antiquing process to highlight the intricacies of the wood and being finished with a protective coat of polyurethane.
One design included in the company’s product line is the Gadsden Flag, a historical American flag depicting a coiled rattlesnake positioned above the words "Don't Tread on Me". The flag is named after American general and statesman Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution.
Wooden Gadsden Flag
Flags of Valor’s site describes the rattle snake image and "Don't Tread on Me" message as an early symbol of the nation's hunger for freedom from Colonial rule. The company says its wooden Gadsden Flag is designed and handmade in honor of the revolutionary spirit of America’s founding fathers and the citizen soldiers who secured the Nation's independence.
The company’s efforts in veteran support have not gone unnoticed, receiving various awards as well as support from DeWalt and the Wounded Warrior Project. Steorts was the recipient of the 2019 Virginia Small Business Veteran of the Year Award, which, according to the Virginia Small Business Development Center, is awarded each year based on contributions to the military, the business, and the community by promoting a sense of duty, volunteerism, and an appreciation of country, democracy, and freedom.
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