A Veteran and a Coffee to Make History

A Veteran and a Coffee to Make History

Having a cup of coffee with a veteran this year can make history when you capture a story for the Library of Congress.  

VitaCup and the Military

My name is Laura.  I’m the VP of Marketing at VitaCup! VitaCup originated in San Diego, and San Diego is a community with a strong military presence.  I should know - I’m a San Diego native and I was born at the Balboa Navy Hospital, the proud daughter of a Marine Corps Major.

Donald R. Bennett Korean VeteranMy dad is a true hero who served in the Korean war and made it back against enormous odds. He never had basic training, but returned and became a drill sergeant. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam and became an officer. He retired after 30 years active duty service.  

His service didn’t stop there. He’s been volunteering at MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) San Diego for years. He gives medallions to graduating recruits. I look on fondly from the piano bench, where I volunteer for the weekly church services.  My father recounts selling newspapers on the same base in World War II and his observations from 70 years since enlistment. He tells them today’s graduating Marines are some of the best and brightest to have come through the halls. The newest Marines leave with a sense of duty to live up to my father’s example.

Making New Friends with Coffee

People are moved by my father’s amazing stories. My brother even joined the Navy and serve as a doctor in my father's footsteps. Everyone knows my dad's stories are the best!  

At VitaCup we get to make new friends.  I love to hear from our customers over a virtual coffee table and learn more about them. VitaCup customers are phenomenal people!

One such phenom is Gus.  Gus emailed VitaCup to tell us he loved the coffee, but he was wondering if we were in nearby stores and if we had other coffees.  He explained that he was a Korean Vet and that he was going to his sister’s house up the street to brew our pods.

Gus’ email immediately caught my attention. He’d gone through great lengths to make our coffee - and he had already gone to great lengths with his military service decades before. I wanted to do something special for Gus. I had been wanting to test a French press style single serve brewer on Amazon, so I ordered it for Gus and asked if he’d give me feedback in return. It was a success! Gus had the coffee AND he had a good brewer option that didn’t take up too much of his limited counter space.  I told my dad I’d met a Korean War veteran and he gave me a card to mail to Gus.  I sent more pods and the note from my dad.

Gus and I corresponded about our mutual love of Jazz and he sent me several AMAZING CDs to listen to. I love the Sarah Vaughn he picked out for me! I was excited to meet a new friend and humbled to be able to do a small gesture for this special vet. We should all be so lucky, and recognize the unique opportunity to spend time with a veteran and hear their stories.

My father has asked for Gus’ phone number.  He loves sharing his story with other vets and wants to hear Gus’ story, too.  My father is a bit of a historian and loves to get a more complete picture of what others experienced during their service.  

Veterans and Stories

Veterans all have amazing stories.  Every veteran experienced service in a different way. It’s a gift have a veteran share their perspective, because each is important.

For many veterans, showing you want to share time with them and listen to their experiences is honoring them. It illustrates that their sacrifices matter and that they make a difference to those around them. For some veterans, sharing their stories may even prove therapeutic.  

Major Donald R. Bennett, Korean VeteranOne of the easiest ways I’ve found to capture my father’s story is with the StoryCorps app. The StoryCorps app is a free app that helps you conduct an interview. It has built in prompts to help you lead the interview, making it easy to walk someone through their story. Once you complete the recording on your phone, tablet, or computer, you upload the story and share it.  

Make the StoryCorps recording public and publish it so that it will also go into the Library of Congress where it is available as a part of the American Folklife Center.  This means you could visit the Library of Congress and listen to your interview there! What an amazing experience!   Your story will be captured for history, preserving it for your family.  You’re also part of a public archive allowing others to stitch together the full fabric of experiences that Veterans shared for a more complete tapestry of the men and women who serve.

Download the StoryCorps app here.

Don’t miss this chance. Grab a cup of coffee with a Veteran this Veteran’s Day and get their story.  My dad and I will be asking Gus to share his story, until then, you can hear my dad’s story here.  

If you upload a veteran’s story, please share it in the comments below or email us!  We’d love to hear it!


Hi Laura, I just finished listening to your StoryCorps interview with your father and enjoyed it immensely, as did my husband who joined the Marines after high school. It inspired me to download the app so I can interview my father, Reuben Island (Elbow Lake, MN) who was a 22-yr-old farm boy when he was drafted into Army and sent to serve in the Korean War. He was a dispatcher in the motor pool until the end of the war, and earned the title of Sargeant. He jokes that if he had stayed in active duty, he would have been promoted and sent to Germany, so all of us (4) kids would be speaking German! Fast forward and I was born after he retuned to the family farm, then met my mother at a local dance. They were married about a little over a year later.

I want to compliment Vita Cup on manufacturing a coffee that saves me the time I used to spend putting coconut oil, cinnamon and other healthy spices in my morning brew. I’ve tried all of your flavors from last year, with the Genius blend most delighting my palate and igniting my mind! I look forward to trying your new beauty blend and sharing both the Genius and Beauty blends with my parents when I bring them their first Keurig machine this Thanksgiving! I like trying new things so if there’s anything you want me to beta, just let me know. I have a national test coming up for my licensure as a therapist and that’s going to take a lot of coffee!

Coleen (Island) Lachowitzer
(Omaha, NE)

Coleen Lachowitzet

This is really nice, but so late! It leaves little time to setup a coffee date with a veteran, at least for Veteran’s day. Is there some method you suggest to ‘select’ a veteran thereafter?
Thanks for the great concept and opportunity. Maybe next year, get it out earlier?


Laura – did you know the National Court Reporter Association is also involved in the “Veterans Project” with the Library of Congress. A volunteer court reporter will write on their steno machine the interview with a veteran, create a written transcript, and the transcript will be given to the library of Congress for their archives. It’s free! Check it out!

Janet Fasy

Mr Bennett & Laura
First off I would like to send my gratitude for your time spent serving.
Second, I just loved listening to your story!
Keep the stories coming!
Laura, you have a wonderful Father!
Gail Valor


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