6 Weeks, 1 Airstream, and 4,585 Miles: How Phil Randazzo of American Dream U Meet Veterans Across the Country
By OSD Staff Writer Jason Carter
Phil Randazzo is the founder and president of American Dream U, a veteran nonprofit dedicated to helping members of our Armed Forces, veterans, and their families, as they transition from the military. According to ADU’s website, “2 out of 3 new veterans” will have difficulty transitioning and “About 400,000 veterans remained unemployed at the end of 2017.” In order to help with the transition, ADU provides a number of services, such as online programs that are designed to “help veterans become successful professionals in the world of business.” These courses cover a wide range of topics, “everything from entrepreneurship to the intricacies of setting up a LinkedIn profile.” In addition to these resources, Phil says, “[ADU] brings some of the world’s best entrepreneurs to military bases, events, and workshops, and has them share with those who are in the process of transitioning.” Speakers of past events have included many notable talents, such as Joe De Sena [the founder and CEO of Spartan Race] and Jim Koch [the founder of Samuel Adams], New York Times Bestselling authors Tim Ferris (4 Hour Work Week) and Greg McKeown [Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less], and even a UFC Hall of Famer and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Forrest Griffin, just to name a few.
Last Fall, in what Phil says was “an effort to reach a larger number of people in a more dynamic way,” Phil partnered with Airstream, the company known for their iconic travel trailers, as part of their Endless Caravan campaign, and took ADU on the road. Phil’s goal for the trip was to document some of the incredible stories of veterans from around the country and share them with others. “Another veteran’s story of success,” Phil says, “could act as a springboard for veterans who what to do something, but does not yet have the confidence to execute their mission. Hearing someone else’s story could be the fuel that’s needed to light the fire to someone’s dreams.”
The first stop of Phil’s six-week, 4,585-mile trip was at the Airstream headquarters in Ohio. From there, Phil drove down to Nashville, TN, where, he says, he “spent some time with probably a dozen veterans, everyone from firefighters, to people who work with the city, to entrepreneurs.” After leaving Nashville, Phil began making his way west, stopping once in Arkansas before continuing to Texas. In Austin, Phil interviewed Medal of Honor recipient, Dakota Myers, and caught up with an old friend, Glenn Banton, CEO and Executive Director of OSD. A little further south, in San Antonio, Phil got to spend time with two big-name veteran brands, Black Rifle Coffee and Grunt Style, before packing up and heading back east. In total Phil would make 18 stops, visit “5 military bases and 7 veteran-owned businesses,” and “put on speaking events and hold instructional classes and informative sessions at each stop.”
“It was way too many miles in a short period of time,” Phil jokes.
A few of the interviews from Phil’s trip have already made their way onto ADU’s YouTube page, while others are still in the process of being edited. Phil plans to share one new full-length interview every week with his tribe, ADU’s online community of veterans. “Going forward,” Phil says, “I am planning to take several weeks each year on the road collecting more veteran stories. We belong to a nation full of amazing veterans and families, and they undoubtedly have stories that deserve to be heard. It’s our mission to listen and tell those stories to the world!”
For more information about ADU and the services they provide, visit americandreamu.org. For more information about Phil’s trip, there is a great write up on Airstream’s website, which can be found here.