On Friday, November 11th, I had the honor of representing PepsiCo and the Dream Machine Recycling Initiative at Syracuse University during its Veterans Day football game. This marked my second visit to SU and PepsiCo’s second half million dollar donation to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) through the Dream Machine recycling program. The EBV provides free education and entrepreneurship training to post-9/11 U.S. veterans with disabilities. The program was founded by Mike Haynie at SU’s Whitman School of Management and is now operated by the new Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), which formally opened last week.
This year, it was impressive to see how the EBV program has grown–joining PepsiCo in corporate support of the EBV and IVM were representatives from Walmart, Humana and JPMorgan Chase. More than 2.5 million Americans have served our country in uniform since 2001. To spend an evening with graduates of the EBV program and hear about the challenges they have overcome and the successes they are achieving is humbling and inspiring.
I enjoyed spending time with veteran and EBV graduate, Captain Shannon Meehan who was accompanied by his wife and two young children—the youngest just eight weeks old. Shannon was a leader of a tank platoon for the 1st Cavalry Division of the U.S. Army and is now an accomplished author. His book “Beyond Duty,” chronicles his experiences in Iraq.
I often talk about PepsiCo’s commitment to Performance with Purpose and how the Dream Machine program is supporting our goal of increasing the U.S. beverage container recycle rate. When we launched the program in 2010, we knew we needed to reinvigorate people’s commitment to recycle by making it more convenient and rewarding. With more than 4,000 Dream Machines deployed in 37 states, we are making real progress toward our goal. This Veterans Day, I was reminded of the tangible reward PepsiCo is supporting for all the bottles and cans recycled in a Dream Machine. It is the emotional reward we receive by doing something that gives back our nation’s heroes who are readjusting to civilian life; and through the EBV program, working diligently to achieve their small business dreams –the most American Dream of all.
Honor a veteran every day, recycle in a Dream Machine.