Many believe that the true rise of social media began after Google bought out the video streaming service, YouTube, for $1.65 billion in 2006.
Since then, billions of people around the globe have documented their lives and ran successful businesses through various social media networks.
Out of those billions, only a handful of those people are considered “social influencers.” And out of that handful, an even smaller number are military veterans.
1. Dakota Meyer
This Medal of Honor recipient enlisted in the Marine Corps in 2006 after graduating high school. During a deployment to Afghanistan, Sgt. Meyer disregarded his own safety to find and save fellow members of his embedded training team while under a curtain of enemy fire.
For his efforts, Sgt. Meyer was awarded the Medal of Honor by former President Obama in September of 2011. Now, Dakota continues to spread the stories of the outstanding men with whom he once served.
Today, Dakota’s social media following is one truly fit for a motivated hero. His audience has grown to nearly 100,000 followers on Twitter, 600,000 on his Facebook page, and a respectable 20,000 viewers on his YouTube channel.
2. Don Shipley
If you ever have a second thought about a guy claiming to be a Navy SEAL, what better way to find out the truth than contacting a real one? After serving 24 years in the Navy as a SEAL Senior Chief, this well-respected badass retired in 2003. Now, this former-SEAL busts stolen-valor phonies and even shows up to their residence to meet them face-to-face.
You can watch his hilarious, phony-SEAL-busting videos on his YouTube channel, Buds 131, along with his loyal audience of nearly 180,000 people.
If you receive a call from this Navy badass, chances are, you’re about to get busted for stolen freakin’ valor.
3. Jacqueline Carrizosa
This motivated Navy sailor served as both a gunner’s mate and rescue swimmer during her honorable years of service. Since then, she’s worked on various films projects, including the series Oscar Mike and Peter Berg’s Battleship.
You can watch her get an awesome tattoo that pays tribute to her Navy days in an episode of USAA’s channel original series, Service and Ink. She also supports the Team 5 Foundation that travels far and wide to provide medical care to poverty-stricken countries.
Today, Jackie’s social audience is growing at a serious rate as her Instagram follows tally up to 132,000.
4. Max Uriarte
Uriarte joined the Marine Corps in 2006 as a 0351 Marine Assaultman and was stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. Uriarte deployed to Iraq twice with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom between 2007 and 2009.
During Uriarte’s four years of enlistment in the Corps, he served as a SMAW gunner, team leader, squad leader, .50Cal gunner, combat photographer, and a combat artist.
In 2010, Uriarte started the hit comic strip, Terminal Lance, which soon became the single most popular comic strip in the military.
Now, Max has over 15,000 followers on Instagram and his Terminal Lance Facebook page is followed by nearly 700,000 loyal fans.
5. Dulce Candy
Born in Michoacán, Mexico, Dulce joined the U.S. Army in 2006, became a certified generator mechanic, and was stationed Fort Hood, Texas. Soon after, she deployed to Iraq for a 15 months and experienced the intensity of war.
After returning home, she continued to work as a mechanic, until she turned on her camera and began discussing makeup and fashion culture on YouTube.