After leaving the service in 2006, Matthew Griffen (Griff) was armed with a desire to make a difference in the world. That culminated in the start of Combat Flip Flops in 2012. Their mission, aside from manufacturing some truly unique footwear, is to help countries like Afghanistan and Colombia, whose economies have been devastated by violence and war, to the path of recovery. “It’s simple” states Combat Flip Flop’s website.“Grow entrepreneurs. Build communities. Fund women’s education.”.
As an Army Ranger, Griff’s firsthand experience of the conflict in Afghanistan came in the early 2000’s. It’s in this time he also witnessed a glimmer of light in the form of a combat boot factory. Employing hundreds of people in the region this factory was at full capacity manufacturing boots for the Afghan military. “When you take a moment to take it in and think about it, each of those employees are supporting an entire family and multiple generations.” Says Griff.“You see something like this and you just have to say, ‘AWESOME!’.”.
It’s from this experience that journey began for what would become Combat Flip Flops. With the need for combat boots from the Afghan military on the decline, the once busy factory that Griff witnessed was on the verge of shutting down and soon putting hundreds of people out of a job and cutting of the main source of income that helped all of their families and communities survive. How does one save a former boot factory would you ask? It might go something like this; take the soles from those boots and punch a flip flop thong through it…With the additional support of people like John Boyer and Andy Sewrey first Combat Flip Flop model was born, the AK-47.
In 2013 Combat Flip Flops moved the manufacturing of their footwear to Colombia, which much like Afghanistan, had an economy that was in recovery. Operations in Afghanistan then become devoted to producing soft goods producing the scarves you see at Combat Flip Flops website. Never losing sight of their mission Combat Flip Flop works closely with the following charities in helping expand their efforts:
Aid Afghanistan for Education: “When we educate a woman, we educate a family. Unless we educate the Afghan population, there will be no peace.” ~Hassina Sherjan, AAE Executive Director
AAE has been provides education to marginalized Afghan women and girls over the age of ten, who are denied access to the formal education system due to conflict age, marital status returnees without education documentation. AAE is guided by the indomitable spirit of Afghan women and children who, despite over 30 years of war and violence, are determined to build a bright and prosperous future for themselves and their families.Currently, 3,000 female and 104 male students attend AAE Schools.
Mines Advisory Group: An international organization that saves lives and builds futures through the removal and destruction of landmines, unexploded ordnance (UXO), and other weapons remaining after conflict.Since 1989, MAG has worked in over 35 countries and was co-laureate of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997. MAG’s leading priority is to protect the lives and well-being of the most vulnerable individuals in contaminated areas by providing risk education, and removing deadly weapons.
The Station Foundation: A non-government agency providing resources to help all members and families of the Special Operations Community attain the same elite performance in their personal lives that they enjoy in uniform.TSF offers a place where Special Operators and their families can stop, identify their values and “stay on track.”TSF offers customized, year-round performance programs that begin in Montana. Participants return home committed to lives of clarity, purpose, and direction. TSF is not a retreat, but a performance program that challenges and empowers participants to demand their very best, developing resiliency and confidence to thrive amid adversity.