The Veterans Breakfast Club was born from a remarkable gathering of thirty World War II veterans brought together in the suburbs of Pittsburgh in the fall of 2008 simply to share their stories. Emotion ran high, and the stories were so enthralling that the organizers, local businessman Dan Cavanaugh and historian Todd DePastino, scheduled more sessions, this time open to the public. One veteran’s daughter said upon leaving, “I’ve never heard my dad tell these stories before. There’s a real need for this kind of thing.”
From those first meetings came the idea for a non-profit that would host local storytelling programs where veterans of all eras and branches of service could share their experiences with the public. The VBC found venues throughout the greater Pittsburgh region to carry their monthly programs. In 2010, the VBC held thirty events drawing 50-150 people to each. Demand for events increased, as did awareness of the need to record and share the stories told with a wider public. The VBC partnered with local podcasters, documentarians, and digital storytellers to capture and share the stories of our veterans.
Up to this point, the VBC was an all-volunteer organization relying on small sponsorships and donations. Operations grew with funding from local foundations, which allowed the VBC to expand its programs across the region and reach thousands more veterans, their families, and supportive friends and neighbors. The VBC held events in Legion halls and brewpubs, libraries and banquet rooms, church basements and faith-based coffee houses. In a couple of occasions, it held events on a donor’s private property and even in workplaces where employees could gather and hear about their colleagues’ service.
COVID-19 brought VBC in-person events to a halt. The VBC responded by taking its storytelling programs online. Since 2020, the VBC has held hundreds of weekly virtual events with thousands of different people participating, including those across the country and the world.
The VBC hosts people of all eras, ages, and branches of service, from a 100-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor to a fresh West Point graduate and from the Secretary of the VA and Pulitzer Prize winning authors to Gold Star Mothers and Medal of Honor recipients. Non-veterans, including elementary school and college students, join to ask questions and to listen.
All are invited to join our community of listening. We know every veteran has a story. And we want to hear every one.