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A veteran-to-veteran storytelling project designed to let Miami Valley veterans describe their own experiences, in their own words with a special focus on stories of re-entry into civilian life.

Veterans' Champions: Charlynda Scales

Charlynda Scales

Charlynda Scales is an Air Force veteran and an entrepreneur. She’s the founder of Mutt’s Sauce, an all-purpose, tomato-based condiment. Every sale of Mutt’s Sauce benefits a charity for veterans but it’s more than just a business model for Scales. It’s a family legacy that began with another Air Force veteran, her grandfather.

My grandfather's name was Charlie Ferrell and his call sign was Mutt for his ability to blend in anywhere. He had friends all over. It didn't matter what country or background; he was never anywhere without friends. I loved his spirit. He cared about service. He cared about family. He was, for me, my father figure growing up. So yeah, he was a great guy. He was a really great guy.

I grew up in a house with him, my grandmother, my mom and at one point it was my aunt and her two kids. But it was a small house, so we're all crammed in there. One big country, happy family. I remember his meals were just so good, you know, always really good. And he was passionate about not being wasteful, about condiments. That's where the sauce came in. He made this all-purpose sauce. He was like you're really wasteful with condiments. You probably have ten of them in your fridge, half of them are expired. So, I'm going to make one that's a perfect combination of all of them, and you're going to love it. It just became a family staple, something that we ate every day.

I remember sitting in my house and whatever I was eating it, it sucked. This is not good, but if you put it some Mutt Sauce on it, then it'll be good. But it didn't have a name. For us, it was just the sauce. And I was like, the sauce is missing. Who knows about this? Now he had five kids, two of them were chefs. And I said, well, it makes sense that he would pass the sauce recipe to one of them. So, I was calling up everybody and was like who's got this recipe? Can somebody just ship me some or something? And they were like, no, he left this earth with the recipe.

I called my mom and I said, “Mom you did the will and you did all of this power of attorney stuff. He never talk about this? She said, “Yes, he did. I need to see you. You come see me.” I went to go see her and she handed me an envelope and I opened it up and it was the original recipe. I was like, “Oh, you gave me the recipe? “No, he asked me to give this to you.” And I was like, “What?” And I said, “What am I supposed to do? What was the instruction?” She said, “There were no instructions. It was just, here, give this to my granddaughter.”

So, what we do with the Mutt Sauce website, when you go online at muttssauce.com and you make an order, we have what I call charity codes, discount codes. So, you're going to get 10 percent off if you use one, but that also helps me track charity donations with our partners. I chose these partners because I think instead of like-minded people, the term I use is like-hearted. I don't need you to think like me, but I need your heart to be in the same place, at least our values are somewhat similar.

One of the first one is Scars Uncovered, which is a family member of mine. She’s my cousin Andrea Pitts. They deliver care packages to burn victims. American Freedom Fund. They're helping veterans heal, who have PTSD, through camaraderie. So, they became a charity partner. Dayton Children's. Active Valor. I was able to sponsor an active duty student veteran, so I was able to give a scholarship to a student veteran to continue school. And Final Salute. So Final Salute Inc. helps house homeless women veterans and their children.

In 2017, we won Bob Evans Farms Veteran Owned Business of the Year. That's really the first time that I've looked at it as I'm a veteran entrepreneur, not just an entrepreneur, I'm a veteran entrepreneur. What do we bring to the table in terms of being able to be of service? No one gets service like a veteran.

Veterans Voices is produced at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices by Will Davis and Tony Holloway, with support from Seth Gordon Ph.D. at the Wright State Veteran and Military Center. Financial support comes from Wright-Patt Credit Union.

Will Davis is a Community Voices producer and was a ComVox instructor for many years. He is now an instructor at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Will is the producer of their "PodLab", a podcast producer in his own right. He served as project manager.
Tony Holloway is a self-taught radio producer and has been contributing his “Mixtape Stories” to WYSO since 2017. He has since become an editor for the Center of Community Voices and for a new season of "Veterans' Voices" called "Veteran Champions". He served as the Project Coordinator, facilitating conversations with all the participants.
Seth Gordon, Ph.D., is the director of the Veteran and Military Center at Wright State University and a Community Voices producer. Seth has worked with hundreds of student veterans through the VMC and works with other veteran support organizations in the region. He helped us define the direction of the current series and took part in three interviews.