Too often our service experience is overlooked and our story is kept silent. However, #VetsRising has become a powerful tool that can ultimately change the way a service member transitions to civilian/veteran life. After years of searching for a community and a path that left me feeling empowered rather than drained, I found Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America – or rather they found me.
This November, I flew into New York City to attend the Veterans Day parade and IAVA’s 9th annual Heroes Gala. On Veterans Day I arrived over an hour early at the Flatiron Building, where over 800 veterans, active duty servicemembers and supporters gathered for the day’s festivities. As I walked with this amazing group, I experienced a true sense of camaraderie; a feeling I’ve only had a few times since I left active duty.
When we are a part of a community we find a new sense of service. This emphasizes the power we have to make a difference as well as see that we are #VetsRising. When I tell my story, I want to educate the community on how they can support our servicemembers and get involved.
As IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff says, “Veterans are not a charity, we are an investment.”