Photos Courtesy of Vet Tix
When Navy veteran Michael A. Focareto attended Super Bowl XLII in 2008 in Phoenix, he was struck by two things: empty seats throughout the stadium and that members of the color guard who took the field for the pre-game show and national anthem were standing to watch the game. He left the event wondering how venues could utilize those seats and help service members – and the concept of the Veteran Tickets Foundation (Vet Tix) was born.
Vet Tix is a 501(C)(3) national nonprofit with the sole mission to give something back to those who dedicated so much to our country. Focareto is the CEO and founder of the organization that started in his garage and now has two dozen employees. Vet Tix provides tickets to a variety of events to current and past members of the armed services. This service helps to reduce stress, strengthen family bonds, build life-long memories, and encourages service members and veterans to stay engaged with their local communities and civilian life. The organization serves over 1.8 million “VetTixers,” those who receive the tickets, which includes all branches of the military, national guard, and reserve, all honorably discharged veterans, and immediate family of those killed in action.
In 2014, the organization expanded and began serving and distributing tickets to the first responder community through its 1st Tix branch. In all, Vet Tix has distributed over 11.4 million tickets to veterans across the United States since its inception, garnering over 700,000 testimonials from grateful ticket recipients. VetTixers are able to attend a variety of events, including professional and collegiate sporting events, concerts, performing arts programs, educational and family events, and more.
The organization was on track to have their biggest year yet of ticket distribution in 2020 after distributing over 3 million tickets in 2019. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic halted their momentum, due to the complete pause of events worldwide. Thankfully, Vet Tix has been able to rapidly build back the momentum they had going into 2020 with sporting events, concerts and more becoming available. The organization was able to distribute over 1.6 million tickets in 2021 and is on track to have a big year in ticket distribution in 2022.
At Vet Tix, veterans sign up for free to become a member and, after a verifying service confirms their record, they will get emails, or they can visit the website to see ticket openings in their area. If they can secure the tickets, they have to pay a small delivery fee per transaction to receive their tickets but the tickets themselves are free of charge. Vet Tix’s main donors consist of teams, promoters, venue managers, organizations, individuals, season ticket holders, corporations and entertainers.
Anyone can donate their tickets on Vet Tix’s website. There is also the option to donate financially to the organization and 100% of every dollar that is donated goes back into the ticket programs at Vet Tix. To learn more, visit vettix.org.