By OSD Staff Writer Ann Green
If you’re looking for up-to-date information on military culture, gaming, financial issues and other news of interest to the military — as well as a dash of humor, history and current events — head over to We Are The Mighty.
We Are The Mighty (WATM) is a United States military media brand run by members of the military, veterans, family members as well as civilians. Its website and social media platforms are designed to bring relevant, engaging entertainment and information to the military community. WATM gives voice to 140,000,000 active duty, veterans, reservists, guardsmen and military families. The company employs a staff of eighteen full-time, predominately veterans. Mark Harper is President and CMO.
Harper’s two-and-a-half-year partnership with OSD has been beneficial to both parties. “We have the ability as a platform in the military community to help and promote groups doing some really great work,” says Parker. “We use our reach to connect with audiences about the work that OSD is doing. Some on our staff are very thankful to OSD for how the organization helped them when they were deployed. Video games help you escape the world you’re in, in a way that’s hard to come by when in conflict. We highlight their work in hopes that our community will learn more and appreciate their work and help support it.”
“Mark is a great friend and We Are The Mighty is a long-time strategic partner for OSD,” says OSD Executive Director Glenn Banton.
Harper became involved with WATM when he met David Gale, who had run MTV Films, the motion picture production arm of the well-known cable channel, for the better part of two decades. Gale wanted to stay in the field of entertainment, but to do so in a way that contributed to the lives of others. He launched WATM in 2014. “MTV is a brand wrapper, but there was none for the military community at large, so the military had no voice in entertainment,” explains Harper. “Dave built We Are The Mighty with a team that is mostly veterans. In four years their website and media platforms have expanded tremendously and we now have original content geared to the military.” WATM gets 16 million page views per month.
“We are a military media and entertainment brand that was created to share stories and provide a platform for the military community celebrating pride of service,” says Harper, who hopes to expand into film and TV projects. “We bring awareness to the military community and to America at large. For example, a community in California did a campaign on how to access the VA the right way. They activated hundreds of vets, helping them to understand challenges that the VA is going through. In that way they did good by the community.”
WATM’s website and social media platforms are overflowing with articles and short-form video content which Harper describes as “authentic and apolitical.” Examples of recent content include: A federal crackdown on fake veterans’ charities, a ground-breaking new pack-frame design that reduces fatigue, a tribute to the late Senator John McCain, 11 memes that will make you want to join the Navy, exercises to reduce back pain, tips on negotiating an alimony settlement, and a story about an investment bank facilitating the employment of veterans. Among Harper’s goals are to bridge what he calls, “the military-civilian divide” by reaching out to people who “don’t get it, who are mired in misconceptions of what the military is,” says Harper. “A lot of people tend to lump the military into two categories — helpless or heroes. There is a massive bell curve of individuals between those two.”
Harper spent close to seven years in the Air Force as a communications officer. His two tours in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom included work for Combat Camera. Also known as COMCAM, its crews provide visual information and documentation covering air, sea, and ground actions of the Armed Forces in combat or combat support operations and in related peacetime training activities. He was deployed in Djibouti, Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In his work for Combat Camera Harper took videographers around the world to document military activities in war zones, at natural disasters, and during various exercises. The goal was to bring imagery from those events to decision-makers in the Pentagon, to news outlets around the world and for historical archives as well as historians who produce programs for such outlets as The Discovery and History Channels.
Harper left the military in late 2007 and decided to pursue a career in the film industry. “A very cool thing I was involved in was helping movie studios get their messaging and marketing correct when dealing with military themes.” Harper worked on films including 13 Hours, Thank You for Your Service, and Hunter Killer. He moved to LA just in time for the writer’s strike, which changed the world of entertainment. “I ended up more on the business side, working for Technicolor and Paramount in their interactive marketing department on films such as Transformers, GI Joe and Star Trek. It was also as pretty cool.” He helped co-found a consumer electronics startup in LA and shortly thereafter had his fateful meeting with Gale.
Harper received his MBA from UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. A native of Saratoga Springs, New York, he lives in Los Angeles.