Bravo Alpha Foundation is a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organization.
Our mission is to support veterans and first responders in their efforts to recover from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and prevent Self Destructive Actions (SDA).
Our supporting mission is to promote education, volunteerism and economic impact while advocating outreach in the communities that support us (Currently the States of North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon and Wisconsin).
Our vision is to educate veteran and first responders on the effects of Self Destructive Actions (SDA) and provide education, training and outreach to them.
Our supporting vision is to fund and award 10 scholarships to aspiring degree seeking students attending a community college or their state university, provide 200 volunteer opportunities for citizens to support their communities altruistically and generate $300,000 of economic impact every year.
Location: Al Anbar Province, Iraq - From left to right: Dustin Canestorp (Founder), John Eubanks, Ned Nobles, Ryan Lekosky, Briton Beck, Mark Dumas.
My name is Dustin Canestorp, I am the Founder and General of the Beer Army and Bravo Alpha Foundation. I am also an avid beer enthusiast and veteran that retired from the Marine Corps after 20 years of service in 2014.
During my last deployment, I, along with a small group of Marines served as combat advisors to the 1st Iraqi Army Division. The stress and hardship was immense.
The catalyst for creating Beer Army happened on 16 February 2007 when friend and fellow Marine, Captain Todd Siebert, was killed in action when the vehicle he was in took a direct hit from an enemy 82 millimeter mortar while conducting combat operations in Ramadi, Iraq. His loss left a significant impact on my psyche. I can’t explain why it was so instrumental as I have lost friends to combat before and after Todd’s death in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Perhaps it was because we had many things in common. We both came up through the enlisted ranks, then switched over to become Mustangs in the officer corps, 2001 we both cut our teeth as Lieutenants in Afghanistan and were the first ground forces in country while serving with 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. We both were married with children, went to Expeditionary Warfare School together and our paths crossed again as Todd’s infantry battalion was my partner coalition unit while serving as a combat advisor for the 1st Iraqi Army Division. Regardless, his loss was the key reason for me to begin Beer Army.
The importance of this picture titled, “Shark Fin” is that this is the actual moment in time captured in this photo when I made the decision on starting Beer Army.
The importance of the picture titled, “Shark Fin” is that this is the actual moment in time captured in this photo when I made the decision on starting Beer Army. Mind you, I didn’t have the name or what you see today as Beer Army all flushed out, I just knew that I was ready to move on from the Marine Corps and do something in the beer industry.
This photo was taken (then) by Corporal Ryan Lekosky, the turret gunner in my vehicle on 26 February 2007, exactly 10 days after Todd’s death. We were conducting combat operations in an area that we called the “Shark Fin” which was east of Habbaniyah, Iraq. This photo was taken just south of that. I still had very mixed emotions with processing and compartmentalizing the loss of Todd.
Here we have my Iraqi interpreter, “Jaguar” on the left asking me (on the right) after we finished our operation and walking back to our vehicle, to help him get to the United States to pursue the American Dream. I don’t recall my exact response but I do recall what I was thinking, it was time for me to pursue my American Dream which encompassed the lovely liquid that we call beer.
The friendships that were forged on the advisor team were stronger than most families. After our tour, we would get together monthly to play poker and to drink my homebrew. I knew that they would be brutally honest on what they liked and disliked about my beer. That honesty made me a better brewer and I started calling us, the Beer Army.
Almost a decade later in 2017, the need was identified and a name change to our organization was in order. We transitioned from Beer Army Foundation to Bravo Alpha Foundation. The term Bravo Alpha, is the military phonetic alphabet initials of the words Beer Army as I felt it was important to pay tribute to our humble beginnings. Additionally, it symbolizes what I have gone through and how I have changed over my multiple combat tours. I.E. Bravo Alpha is synonymous to Before After. I think we as human beings are always in a constant state of change whether we realize it or not and when you look back, you will always find an embarkation line of sorts where a key moment or specific period in your life changes you and how you look at things good or bad.
We have been educating our communities as a whole since 2008 when we made our formal presence known by launching our initial website. Since 2010 we have hosted many fundraisers, festivals and other public events. During that time we have donated tens-of-thousands of dollars to numerous charities, provided hundreds-of-thousands of dollars in economic impact to the communities that support us and impacted veterans and first responders in a way that simply can’t be quantified all because of YOU! With a humble heart, I thank you.
FOOTNOTE: Sergeant Lekosky is shown third from the right in the picture titled, “The Crew” and I’m on the far left sitting. He was an outstanding Marine and I’m forever indebted to him for capturing this pivotal moment in time with a photograph (picture titled, "Shark Fin"). Sgt “Ski” and I chewed a lot of dirt together in Iraq and I feel fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to serve with him in combat and call him a friend. Unfortunately, Sgt Ski was stabbed to death in his dress blue uniform on 31 October 2010 while escorting his wife in the French Quarter of New Orleans from the Marine Corps Ball. God bless him, Todd and all service members who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while defending our country. The Beer Army Foundation is a living memorial and tribute to them. We will not squander the opportunity that they have provided us, the opportunity to pursue our American Dream.