IAVA | April 20, 2020
Read: Coast Guard Veteran Joins IAVA on Capitol Hill to Advocate for Student Veterans
Submitted by: Michael Matos
As I reflect on my participation in IAVA’s “Storm the Hill” campaign, I can honestly say it has empowered me as an individual, a member of my community and a veteran. Prior to this opportunity, my experience with the political world took the form of watching the news and wondering why dire issues weren’t being solved, while consistently being frustrated with the apparent absence of representation.
To be able to take part in something like this, an advocacy initiative built on direct face-to-face conversation between our veterans and elected officials, is inspiring.
I joined this campaign with the intention of bringing the voices of my fellow student veterans in New York City straight to the top of our legislative system, especially for my classmates at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
I’m happy to say I succeeded in that objective by ensuring our elected officials understand just how important the Post 9/11 GI Bill and other veteran education benefits are for our personal success. Just this past week, we saw our administration pass a bill to ensure our GI Bill benefits remain protected in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
I’m proud to say that every meeting we had, whether it was with the elected official themself or a member of their staff, made such an obvious impact and resulted in passage of legislation within the week after we left. To me, that was the most rewarding part about Storm the Hill.
Lastly, one of the greatest benefits of this program was to be able to connect with other veterans, united in the cause of advocating for the veteran community as a whole. Many of these I’m now honored to consider my friends.
You’d be amazed at the results you can get when you get a handful of people together to unite and be the change they want to see.