The founder of the military-themed apparel company Ranger Up, Nick Palmisciano, recently sent a message to fellow veterans. In a video, he talks about some staggering statistics that show the percentage of Americans who are veterans is quickly decreasing.
With a smaller group of people with a common bond, Palmisciano told American Military News it’s “absolutely critical for veterans to come together and support each other.”
“That doesn’t mean people need to be engaged in ‘veteran business,'” he explained. “Regardless of what a person is doing – military, corporate, entrepreneurship, or the arts – with every passing day our voice gets diminished as we become a smaller and smaller percentage of the population. If we don’t achieve power and influence far beyond what previous generations have accomplished, the veteran voice will disappear. We will have no influence over politics, over business, or over conflicts. As the people who have worn the uniform, we need to work hard so that our voices matter. We can’t be relegated to ‘thank you for your service.'”
And, he added: “The rifts diminish the community. One of the biggest reasons the general public respects the veteran community is because we have a sense of honor and fairness in an increasingly immoral world. When we cut each other’s throats we are diminished. We become more like everyone else and we hurt the perception of what a veteran is and should be.”
Palmisciano served for six years as a U.S. Army infantry officer.
His standout video was posted to the Ranger Up Facebook page on Sept. 19, and it had more than 350,000 views on Friday afternoon – notably more views than many other Ranger Up videos.
In the video, Palmisciano says he was confused when several veterans reached out to him expressing their displeasure with the idea that there is another veteran-made movie being released. Palmisciano helped produce “Range 15,” a military movie that was released last year.
“When we made ‘Range 15,’ the intention was to give everybody a blueprint for how to succeed in Hollywood,” he says. “To see all these guys go after it is awesome. […] That’s the whole point.”
“We did ‘Range 15.’ It was successful. I want other people to go and do that,” Palmisciano adds. “I want them to do better than we did and give me an incentive to […] do even better. That’s the way I think about military companies.”
Several well-known veterans in the veteran community – including Yusha Thomas, John Burk and Drew Hernandez – recently teamed up to create a movie, called “Not Another Veteran Movie.”
Palmisciano says having competition is the key to improving. For example, two years after Palmisciano founded Ranger Up, competing apparel company Grunt Style was founded. Palmisciano says Grunt Style made his clothing company even better.
“I look at it like you have platoon rivalries. You wanted to be the best platoon, but it’s not like you want the other platoon to die. Somewhere I feel like we kind of lost sight of that.” Palmisciano explains.
“I want the military community to win,” he says, adding that he sees a lot of people getting petty about each other and popular veteran internet personalities. “We’re all just regular dudes.”
Palmisciano emphasized the importance of having a strong veteran community and how veterans have had to rely on each other throughout history.
He says there is cause to be worried for the future of veterans, and now they all have to stick together.
“The percentage of veterans in the U.S. continues to shrink,” he says, pointing out that 11.5 percent of Americans served in World War II, 4.3 percent served in Vietnam and less than 0.5 percent of Americans served since September 11, 2001.
“What that really means is that we are going to have less political power, less business power, less influence – period, of any generation that has ever existed of military veterans in history,” Palmisciano says. “If we spend a lot of time crapping on each other, trying to rip each other apart, just trying to be the only voice out there, we are going to get weaker and weaker until we are inconsequential and don’t matter.”
“There is an opportunity for us to look at the success that people have had in the veteran community and be happy about it,” he points out.
“On an annual basis, if we all do greater things, that’s so good for the community,” he says, adding that veterans should be spending less time “ripping each other apart.”