If there's a truism that flows through both business and life, it's that, at some stage, we will all need support and guidance from others to help us achieve our goals. While we all face obstacles in our daily lives, our nation's veterans often find themselves overcoming significant challenges as they transition from the military to the civilian world. We asked this year's Distinguished Service Awards "Veteran Service Organization of the Year" finalists about their work in an exclusive Q&A. Read their answers below and then join us for the event and meet our finalists on September 13th:
1. How does your work impact the veteran community?
"The GWC prides itself in sponsoring events for veterans in the GWC footprint. The Chapter is focused on outreach as there are veterans and veteran organizations in the far reaches of the Chapter area that have not been contacted and are very viable. The Chapter is focused on Veteran Healthcare, Veteran Employment opportunities and especially Tax Relief for Veterans. Therefore, the Chapter is an advocacy to support veterans to provide the benefits which are justly earned and deserved!" - George Washington Chapter AUSA
"NOVA Veterans Association’s mission is critical; we provide the one thing the elderly and underserved don’t have – equitable access to the services they need. We are a personal comprehensive case management and advocacy service. This kind of service is fundamentally different than a resource directory or a navigation service. Veterans in poverty, who are disabled, have mental health challenges or who are elderly, have a complex set of needs that must be addressed to improve their quality of life. NOVA Veterans support holistically over the long-term, because our veterans deserve more than a short-term temporary fix. The largest number of veterans who die by suicide are between 55 and 74 years old (Ramchand, Rajeev. “Suicide Among Veterans: Veterans' Issues in Focus.” Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2021). This daunting statistic reinforces what we have learned at NOVA Veterans. We know and value our veterans and their emotional need for socializing. We aim to eliminate isolationism, depression, and sadness by facilitating their engagement with local recreation, arts, fitness, and opportunities to gather and have fun. We are holistically focused, which doesn’t end with meeting their basic needs but goes on to guide veterans into the fun, recreational or volunteerism aspects of living." - NOVA Veterans Association
"The Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund mission is to honor military service and sacrifice by providing scholarships and education opportunities to veterans and military family members. We have a very strong focus on providing scholarships for military children of our nation's fallen or combat wounded. Since our organization's founding in 2014, we've provided $25 million in scholarship funding, helping some 4,000 military children achieve a debt-free college education--that's a significant impact on our military community. At Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund, we are veterans helping veterans and military families. Having worn the uniform ourselves, we have a deep appreciation for military service and a passion to support those who serve. We feel a duty to continue serving "our own." Although Johnny Mac is a national nonprofit, Virginia is in our top 5 states for the largest number of scholarships awarded." - The Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund
2. What would you like our business community to know about working with veterans?
3. What programs or veteran-related efforts, if any, are lacking within our community?
"Industry outreach programs specifically to veterans. There is a wealth of untapped resources available in the veteran community which can be reused by both community programs and industry-related programs.
Where does our community stand out?
Specifically, the PaYs Program: The U.S. Army Partnership for Youth Success (PaYS) is designed to help Soldiers prepare for a career after the Army by connecting them with employers who understand the skill, discipline and work ethic that military service members bring to a business. This program is part of a long-term U.S. Army effort to help Soldiers forge professional relationships with businesses and encourage business owners to look to the Army as a plentiful and reliable recruiting source.Upon completion of their military service, Soldiers participating in PaYS will be guaranteed a job interview at the PaYS partner company of their choice. This program is available to active duty and Army Reserve enlisted Soldiers along with Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets who accept an Army Reserve, National Guard or Active-Duty commitment. This program is outstanding and provides the Soldier and Veteran a head start in finding a suitable job with industry which can capitalize on their skills after service." - George Washington Chapter AUSA
"The 2017 US Census reported some 62,000 veterans in our 10 Northern Virginia county service areas that are living in poverty, are disabled, or over the age of 75. There is no question that needs of these vulnerable individuals far exceeds our current ability to identify and resolve. Information Technology (IT) - owning a device, operating a device, keeping it maintained (hardware/software) and affording internet services. Transportation - reliable, consistent, affordable, timely. Access to Healthcare Services - in person and virtual (telehealth).
Where does our community stand out?
We have hundreds of services and programs to support our veterans in a myriad of ways. We honor and respect our veterans and facilitate programs with the intent of supporting their overall quality of life." - NOVA Veterans Association
4. What would you like to see changed/improved/added to in relation to our current veterans’ programs? See above, lacking in our community.
"Industry and the community need a more in-depth understanding of the Service Veteran. Too often, the veteran is taken for granted and thought of as only a “trigger-puller” when, in reality, their skill set provided to them in the Service is very, very technical with certifications and an outstanding resource for businesses who “don’t have the time to train up!" - George Washington Chapter AUSA
"We need personal on-going support for veterans who cannot help themselves (NOVA Veterans). We need safe, reliable, responsive, and affordable transportation. IT barriers are at critical levels. Telehealth, teleconferencing, navigating a website, filling out an online form are all unsurmountable barriers for many of our vulnerable and underserved veterans." - NOVA Veterans Association
"Now that 20 years of combat operations have concluded--and military issues are no longer in the daily news cycle--it is vitally important to continue to raise awareness and appreciation for military service. We can do this in so many ways--but one way is to support those veteran service nonprofit organizations that are truly making an impact on veterans and military families in a fiscally responsible transparent manner." - The Johnny Mac Soldiers Fund