BEAUMONT, Texas — A Beaumont business is fighting for its life after the Department of Defense ordered them to discontinue a line of products, killing a great deal of their business.
One of Shields of Strength's most popular items are dog tags that have bible verses and military insignia on them. Officials with the DoD said it is against their policy for products featuring military insignia to also promote religious beliefs.
The policy that was changed in 2013 states that, “DoD marks may not be licensed for any purpose intended to promote ideological movements, sociopolitical change, religious beliefs, specific interpretations of morality, or legislative/statutory change.”
The department issued a cease and desist order in 2019. Recently, Shields of Strength filed a lawsuit against the DoD and others.
“They don't want anything related to scriptures or scripture references around their logos or around crosses or anything like that,” Kenny Vaughn, Shields of Strength owner, said.
According to Vaughn, by 2019 the store had already been making the dog tags for 20 years and had given more than two million tags to members of the U.S. military.
“If what I was doing was not best for the military, I would hope that they would come against me,” Vaughn said. “But what we're doing really is best for them and is what they need, and it makes a difference in their ability to do their job and to survive.”
The Beaumont store was operating well before the new policy was put in place. Vaughn said the change was never brought to their attention before they received the cease and desist order.
The business' start, though accidental, is a product of Vaughn overcoming his fear of failure through his faith.
“We didn't set out to do this, you know, I mean, we just knew it was a great opportunity,” Vaughn said. “My wife had written scriptures on my athletic equipment and I battled fear a lot, specifically the fear of failure, and God's word helped me overcome that.”
Vaughn then put the scriptures on dog tags that have since become the product their success as a business is most reliant on, especially within military circles.
“Then fast forward to 9-11-2001,” Vaugh said. “We have soldiers, military deployed in war, and some of them come across some of our dog tags and other units were asking for them.”
After having to discontinue their most popular item, the Beaumont business is fighting as if they have nothing left to lose.