WARNING: This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.

Building A Community For Veterans: Dippin' & Sippin' With John Allen

November 11, 2018

Brave, bold, and as badass as they come. That ain’t just what the Black Buffalo brand strives to be — those are just some of the traits of the members of the Special Operations Forces who Elite Meet is helping transition from the military into the business world.

Founded in 2017, Elite Meet connects transitioning military veterans with influential business professionals for jobs, internships, and guidance so they can apply their elite skills in meaningful ways. This Veterans Day, we caught up with the organization’s CEO and Navy SEAL John Allen to chat about life as a veteran back on home soil.

What does Veterans Day mean to you and the vets you work with?

If not for the teammate who saved my life in Afghanistan back in 2014, I would not be here this Veterans Day. I would not be biking to the park with my two-year-old daughter while my wife catches a nap at home with our two-month-old child. I wouldn’t be answering texts from my mom and dad and sisters, whose cheerful “Happy Veterans Day!” really means, “I’m glad you are alive, I’m glad you made it back.”

On Veterans Day I count my blessings, and I know how lucky I am to have survived a grenade attack that left me face down in the mud, bleeding out from shrapnel wounds in my leg. For me, and other people in the military, and other people who have been in combat, Veterans Day is when you think of your teammates, your family, and all the others who have given up so much in the service of their country. My grandfather survived 50 missions in the US air corps in World War Two. He never talked about it, but that experience defined him, and made him part of something bigger than he was.

My experience in the SEAL teams has shaped me in a similar way. There’s the public celebration of Veterans Day — the parades, the holiday, the store specials and sales, the day off work — and there’s the private observance that veterans make among themselves, when we think of our friends and buddies, those who made it back from war, and those who didn’t. That ordinary dad you see pushing his kid on the swing — his thoughts could be a million miles away, thinking about a friend or brother whose name is etched on a headstone in Arlington National Cemetery, thinking — like I will be — of the guy on deployment next to me to whom I owe not only my life, but the lives of my two daughters.


For a lot of veterans and their families, I think it is a serious day of remembrance. And I think that is a good thing.

What would you say to non military folks?

Americans want to say thank you to those who have served in the military, and those who have risked their lives in combat. If there is one thing that veterans coming out of the service really need, it is a good job, a chance to find their place in a new community, to be a part of the organizations, businesses, and communities that they went into the service to help protect.


As the co-founder of Elite Meet, a non profit organization with the single goal of helping SOF get good jobs in the private sector, my message to civilian employers is simple: the SOF community is a talent pool like no other. You don’t need to weed through a thousand resumes and sit through hundreds of interviews to figure out which candidate has grit and accountability; who is a self-starter and a team player. It turns out that Uncle Sam has done that for you, and you can find those job applicants right here, among the hundreds of men and women who separate from the special forces every year.

How do donations help Elite Meet continue their mission?

Elite Meet could not survive without donations and buy-in from both the SOF and business communities. We pay all costs associated with getting veterans to our networking and Elite Meet events, as well as for the events themselves. In between events, we work with transitioning veterans one-on-one to match them with jobs that are a good fit. All that takes money. Elite Meet is committed to a lean, low-overhead business model that pushes donations first and foremost to helping veterans.

How has Black Buffalo fit into your community?

Chewing tobacco is sacred in the SEAL teams because you can’t run 50 miles with a cigarette in your mouth, but you can dip pretty much non-stop in all circumstances including underwater diving (that’s true). Chewing tobacco is such a huge stress reliever that by the time you start worrying about getting mouth and throat cancer, you are totally hooked. When we heard about Black Buffalo — nicotine without the cancer — not only did we aggressively seek these guys out as EM sponsors, we pushed the word out to the teams that there was a safer alternative to chewing tobacco that looked and felt just like Cope. Our community fell in love with Black Buffalo’s product, as well as their commitment to supporting veterans during their transition back into the civilian workforce.

What's next and exciting for Elite Meet?

We are launching three distinct verticals to help elite transitioning veterans: job placement, transition seminars, and networking/mentorship support.  If you’re a business professional interested in helping or hiring a high performing veteran, please reach out to us at www.elitemeet.us

This Veterans Day, Black Buffalo salutes our country’s veterans in a few different ways:

  1. We’re pledging a donation of the day’s proceeds to our partners and friends Elite Meet to further their goals.
  2. We’re offering a 50% discount on all products to veterans, including our Wintergreen Long Cut, Mint Long Cut, and Straight Long Cut. Apply code VETERAN during checkout between Friday (11/10) Midnight and Saturday (11/11) Midnight central time.
  3. We’re also offering a 25% discount on all products to all customers. Apply code ELITEMEET during checkout between Friday (11/10) Midnight and Saturday (11/11) Midnight.

All photos courtesy of John Allen


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