By Mina Williams For The Herald
EDMONDS — A coalition of businesses and government has led the city to become the first in the country to participate in a program offering discounts to active and former military personnel and their families.
Military Veterans Promotions is a nonprofit effort spearheaded by Operation Military Family, an Edmonds-based business that connects active and former military personnel and their families to benefits and services.
Businesses register to be a part of the program, offering discounts to military and veteran families. Participating businesses are listed on Operation Military Family’s website at www.vapp2.com.
Mike Schindler, a former Edmonds real estate developer, served in the Navy and founded Operation Military Family after self-publishing a book, “How Military Couples are Fighting to Preserve Their Marriages.” The book’s success led to relationship seminars, then Web-based referrals as well as other workshops, seminars, counseling and advice on topics such as housing.
“I like the hybrid business model,” Schindler said.
The company decided to launch the nonprofit discounts program as a way to give back.
“MVP is a way a business, corporation or merchant can say, ‘Thank you for your service,’” Schindler said.
“This is a great thing the city is doing, to step up and help vets,” said Nick McCallon, an Army veteran who served with the Stryker Brigade six years and received a Purple Heart. “I can only say thank you.”
The Downtown Edmonds Merchants Association, the Edmonds Chamber and the city worked on implementation. More than 50 Edmonds businesses have signed on to offer discounts and display the MVP decal in their window.
“It is very exciting to see the cooperation and work targeted to support this veterans support group,” said Pat McKee, president of the merchants association. “When this was presented to our group everybody jumped on board to offer discounts.”
McKee is offering 10 percent off at his Nama’s Candy store on Fifth Avenue N. He said already he has extended the offer to a customer, a veteran. “We both smiled,” he said.
Other businesses in Edmonds are offering similar discounts. Puget Sound Tax Service offers a 10 percent discount for services. At the Resident Cheesemonger, the MVP discount is 15 percent. Chanterelle Restaurant will extend early bird dinner specials through the evening. At the Edmonds Bookshop, MVP customers will receive a store credit of the average price paid when a dozen new books are purchased.
“We’ve all been wondering how we can better honor and support our veterans and returning troops, especially in this tough economy,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling. “When Operation Military Family suggested launching a year-round, town-wide veterans discount program, we jumped at the opportunity. We challenge other Snohomish County cities to do the same.”
Marysville and Leavenworth are planning to join the MVP network, Schindler said. Everett City Councilman Paul Roberts said that he looks forward to introducing the program to his city’s merchants.