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This former Special Ops soldier seeks peace — through flip-flops.

This story originally aired on January 25, 2020.

Matthew "Griff" Griffin did four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan as an elite fighter with the Army Rangers. While there, he observed a kind of vicious cycle. Extreme poverty creates a breeding ground for extremism. War happens. War provides a kind of economic stimulus. War ends; the economic stimulus does, too. Things fall apart.

The problem pained him, but he wasn't sure how to fix it. It was only after his service ended that Griffin struck upon an idea: Combat Flip Flops. The idea was practical, in that he would use factories and materials that had been supporting the war effort and employ them to make flip-flops. But it also was a symbol. After all, he says, you can't fight in a flip-flop.

In this interview, Griffin talks about how his training as a soldier informed his decisions as a business person, how his flip-flop company persisted through multiple near-failures, and why other former soldiers are some of his company's most devoted customers.

Textiles are made in a factory in Afghanistan.
Credit Courtesy of Matthew "Griff" Griffin
Textiles are made in a factory in Afghanistan.

Posey Gruener is a former KNKX producer who worked on All Things Considered and Sound Effect.