Q. What drives you to make veterans and military families such a central part of your philanthropy?
A. Spencer: We have just felt that there's a real need. Our foundation and our initiatives are imbued with patriotism and with our country’s founding principles. We feel that veterans have sometimes not been celebrated the way they should have been.
Q. Military families in particular are a high priority for you. Why?
A. Moffatt: When someone signs up for the military, it's not just that person. It affects the family, in both good and bad ways. You have to take a holistic approach, considering not just the vet himself or herself, but the whole family. Anyone joining the military should know that their family is going to be taken care of, is going to be supported. In order for the military to keep attracting high-quality people, you have to show concern for their families.
Can you tell us about some of the programs you support?
A. Moffatt: We support the Navy SEAL Foundation mental-health and family programs. In addition to providing treatment and preventive psychological care for the warfighters, we also fund resilience programs for their children. These include emergency respites, peer supports, leadership camps, mentorship, service opportunities, and “Discovery Grants” that allow Gold Star children to explore personal passions.
A. Spencer: We’re doing a lot with the children of the fallen. We help with an endowment at a program called Special Operations Warriors Foundation, which provides full four-year scholarships for these children. The organization also helps with home tutoring and family counseling. It turns out that 90 percent of the students they support graduate from college and get a good start to adulthood.
We were the first funder of retreats run by another scholarship program called the Freedom Alliance. Their gatherings bring children of the fallen together for a few days to support each other and develop networks. These kids are in an unusual and difficult situation, having lost a parent at war, so it’s important to help them relate to others who share that same experience. I just met with two of them yesterday and they said they developed lifelong friendships through this work.
Q. You’ve been a generous supporter of the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, an organization that supports military caregivers—how did you find that group?
A. Moffatt: Every day for a month the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Washington Times published a profile, a full-page feature story, about a military caregiver. And the stories were so poignant, you just felt like you needed to find out more about these caregivers. So that led us to connect with the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and this is our second year of supporting their Hidden Heroes campaign. These caregivers are unbelievable.
Q. You’re the cornerstone funder for the Independence Project, an effort to develop new supports and incentives for veterans with disabilities to succeed in the workforce. Why did it appeal to you?
A. Moffatt: Under the current system, people feel like they can’t work beyond a certain amount or they’ll lose benefits. And people don’t feel good about themselves when they’re not working. Hopefully the Independence Project will give people a feeling that they can achieve—that their disabilities don’t define them.
Q. Speaking of reaching full potential, you were also the first supporter of an organization called the Warrior Scholar Project.
A. Spencer: Education fuels a future, and these were vets who saw a need to go back to college. But first they needed to hone their academic and interviewing and SAT skills. So this is a 24/7 boot camp that really boosts them toward top campuses. The first one was at Yale. Now there are colleges participating all over the country—Harvard, University of Southern California, University of Michigan, and others.