A retired Army general who launched an organization to study brain injuries and a former Joint Base Lewis-McChord Army Ranger who’s now in the business of making shoes in conflict-torn communities will be among the speakers at this weekend’s TEDxTacoma.
Former Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Chiarelli and Combat Flip Flops co-founder Matthew Griffin are two of the three veterans on the bill at Tacoma’s version of the global Technology, Education and Design (TED) forums.
The full line-up for Saturday’s event is available at the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets start at $39 and the event is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Other speakers include Bradd Busick of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Tacoma-raised songwriter William Jordan and 11-year-old Olivia Anderson of Gig Harbor, who is trying to raise awareness about clean-water challenges in the developing world.
As the 32nd Army Vice of Chief of Staff, Chiarelli labored to understand and address a rising number of suicides among soldiers during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His efforts are documented in Thank You for Your Service, a book by David Finkel of The Washington Post.
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More recently, Chiarelli has led the nonprofit organization One Mind, which aims to spur innovations in the treatment of brain injuries.
Griffin and fellow former Ranger Donald Lee opened Combat Flip Flops in 2009, when they tried to build a company that would employ Afghan civilians at a factory in Kabul. They were inspired to do business there by their deployments to the country with JBLM’s 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment.
Now the company sells shoes from Columbia, sarongs from Afghanistan and jewelry from Laos.
Griffin told Kevin Knodell at The Ranger newspaper that his company wants to promote peace through “business, art and music instead of bullets.”
A third Army veteran speaking at TEDxTacoma is Chip Huth, who is now a captain at the Kansas City Police Department.