Veterans Advantage was founded in 2000 by Scott Higgins, a Vietnam War Veteran, and his spouse, Lin Higgins, the daughter of a WWII Marine Corps officer who served in the Pacific, and a prominent group of Vietnam Veterans and military family members who serve on the Board of Advisors.
Scott was in Army ROTC (Reserve Officers’ Training Corps) from 1963–1967, whereas a U.S. Army lieutenant, he was assigned to II Field Force in Vietnam, from 1967–1968. Scott's Vietnam experience instilled in him a commitment to help his fellow veterans; he was happy to serve again as a volunteer in 1982 when asked by New York City Mayor Edward Koch to head the New York Vietnam Veterans Memorial Commission along with his appointed co-chair, Donald Trump.
Scott led the over 100 person Commission in forging a community among Vietnam veterans, veterans organizations, major corporate sponsors, the citizens of New York, and the nation. The work of the Commission struck an emotional chord, acknowledging the service and sacrifice of Vietnam veterans without passing judgment on the politics or conduct of the war in which they fought.
To meet its mandate, the Commission raised $5 million in less than four years. Following an international competition, it built a memorial in lower Manhattan onto which excerpts of letters and poems written by servicemen and women during their time in Vietnam are inscribed. It also established a jobs program for Vietnam veterans. On May 7, 1985, the Commission held a "Welcome Home" parade in New York City ten years after the end of the War. It was the largest NYC parade in its history, during which 25,000 Veterans paraded to the cheering of over a million New Yorkers who paved the route with tons of ticker tape.
The highly praised book, Dear America: Letters Home From Vietnam, also inspired by the design of the Memorial, was edited and published by the Commission. The HBO documentary film based on the book and by the same name was similarly lauded, awarded a Peabody, and a pair of Emmys. The making of the film was nominated for an Academy Award.
Scott’s experiences, both during his military service and his seven-year tenure with the Commission, led him to create Veterans Advantage. Along with his spouse Lin Higgins, Scott worked with others formerly involved with the Commission, learning from their unique experiences. Former Commission member and editor of Dear America, Bernard Edelman, served as an early director of content development for Veterans Advantage. Other Commission members currently serving for Veterans Advantage's Board of Advisors include former chairman and CEO of Y&R Advertising, Ed Vick; author and screenwriter Bill Broyles; media executive and Marine Gerry Byrne and Medal of Honor recipient and West Point graduate Paul "Bud" Bucha.
You can learn more about our founders here.