Who we are

We remember the fallen and disabled by helping their families thrive in the shadow of tragedy.

Christopher West


I never joined the armed forces, and looking back over time, I regret not serving in our countries military. I believe the sacrifice by these men and women have given me the opportunity to succeed in a free, prosperous and safe country, and I’ve spent my adult life looking for ways to repay that sacrifice.

As I became more successful in my professional life, I realized to an even greater extent the importance of sacrifice. Part of success requires spending time away from the family to focus on building your business and career. You can’t get that time back and it’s not fun, but it also pales in comparison to the level of sacrifice demonstrated by service members. If I went on a business trip, I knew I was coming home after. They leave with the uncertainty of whether they will see their loved ones again, and sadly, far too many won’t make it home at all.

This thought continued to follow me around, and as I pulled at that thread, what I learned set the stage for my giving.

It’s the families that ultimately pay that cost.

It’s the families, specifically the children of the deceased or 100% disabled, who really pay the steepest price. They are the ones who were born into a family that chose defending the citizenry of the United States as their primary career, and now their family has been shattered. When a parent is killed or 100% disabled, the earning potential for that family is decimated, forcing those left behind into full-time and overtime work, pushing the dream of higher education and a better life further and further out of reach.

This is the area that caught my interest. Everyone knows about the educational opportunity afforded to active troops through the GI bill, but people don’t spending as much time talking about benefits available to families of the fallen and disabled. From there, I discovered the VA’s Chapter 35 program, which addresses some of the problem. While Chapter 35 is a fantastic start, additional funding would mean these families could focus entirely on their education.

That was the lightbulb moment. I saw an opportunity where I could help make good on this injustice by helping these Chapter 35 kids complete a 4 year college program with the least amount of financial burden possible.

The least I can do is to pay it forward to the families who have already suffered enough. It’s an honor to give these deserving men and women a chance to obtain an excellent education in the midst of tragedy. While we can’t give them back the past, we can work and give tirelessly to provide the best future possible.

It’s what they deserve.

(From left) Christopher West and his wife, Meredith, established the Family First Scholarship to benefit dependents of service members killed or wounded during their service. 

Mike Lofton


An Arizona native, Mike Lofton joined The Family First Scholarship in 2020. Mike did not serve as an active member of our military forces. It wasn’t until the attacks on September 11th, 2001 that he decided he could no longer ignore the sacrifices that our great men and women have made, and continue to make, to protect our American way of life.

Mike’s first exploration into serving the military as a civilian was to join “The Honorary Commander Program” at Luke Airforce Base in October 2001. At the time, Mike was an active young entrepreneur in the construction and development arena which made him a near perfect resource for the air force base because new home development was encroaching dangerously close to the base and threatening to force the base to relocate which would’ve been a disaster for Arizona. Thankfully it was avoided. And selfishly, Mike benefited greatly by his liaison services between the air force and the homebuilding community by getting attached to an F-16 Squadron, The Top Dogs, who are arguably the finest fighter pilots on earth. I know this because I flew with two of them!

Next stop for Mike, now and active member in Young President’s Organization (YPO), occurred in 2012 when approached by some recently retired members of our military’s special operations community who requested assistance in designing and implementing a curriculum for a world-class training organization for military, law enforcement, and civilians. What Mike didn’t fully realize was that he was going to be an active participant in the development of the curriculum. Translation: The finest combat warriors on earth would be learning how to train themselves and others on a variety of new and exciting ways to punish my civilian body in ways that it had never been tested! Let me assure the reader that you haven’t truly lived until you’ve been in simulated combat with (or against) the world’s most elite combat veterans. This once-in-a-lifetime experience changed my life forever and clarified the duty we owe to these soldiers and their families.

Finally, Mike helped originally fund (and continues to fund) a not-for-profit effort, “Mission 22” www.mission22.com which illuminates the tragic suicide rate (22 per day) among our returning combat veterans. Today Mission 22 is a nationwide brand and continues to support returning combat veterans to re-enter civilian life through community projects. This effort has saved many lives and accomplished many things, including the lesson that we don’t only have a suicide epidemic within our combat veteran community, we also suffer from a mental illness pandemic within our society that does not know how, nor does it seem to care about the safe return of our warriors back into civilized society, which is a much larger issue facing our country.

Today, Mike and his beautiful wife, Sandy, are committed to joining forces with Chris and Meredith to grow The Family First Scholarship into a significant resource for our military families to utilize for decades to come. Too many well-intentioned Americans are sitting around waiting for things to happen by magic. Getting involved with The Family First Scholarship by educating the children of our nation’s heroes, who’ve either made the ultimate sacrifice, or find themselves 100% disabled, is where magic meets reality, and where civilians like us pay it forward. On behalf of these heroes, we ask for your immediate and continued support.

Mike and Sandy Lofton Family