Talk about #VetsRising!
On Thursday, while on one end of Capitol Hill former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was testifying on Benghazi, IAVA Regional Leadership Fellow and Nebraska native Ryan Kaufman was testifying before the House Veterans Affairs Economic Opportunity Subcommittee on his experiences with the VetSuccess on Campus (VSOC) program.
The VSOC program helps veterans, servicemembers and their dependents succeed through on-campus benefits assistance and counseling, leading to completion of their education and preparing them for viable careers.
Thanks to the program, Kaufman is now making strong headway toward his bachelor’s degree. Professionally, he is now a peer-to-peer specialist providing critical support to Nebraska veterans and their families. For IAVA, he travels across Nebraska to connect veterans with needed resources and one another. He also coordinates community events, including IAVA member VetTogethers and peer support programs.
“I can’t emphasize enough how empowering it is to be playing such an important role with IAVA. In Washington, D.C., everyone’s always talking about things ‘left’ and ‘right,’ Kaufman said. “As a veteran serving veterans with IAVA, the only ones on the left and right are your battle buddies standing next to you.”
Before the hearing, Ryan met with his Congressman, Adrian Smith (R-NE), and then with Subcommittee Chairman Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), and both gave a welcome that helped put him at ease.
During the hearing, Kaufman gave such compelling testimony that the sometimes distracted Committee Members were glued to his story, and he received strong compliments from the panel’s leaders and other witnesses during and after the hearing.
Asked after the hearing how he felt about his appearance, Kaufman said, “I just want to thank IAVA for the platform to continue to serve and the ability to advocate for the systems in place that assist veterans in being successful.”
“It was a privilege to meet Ryan prior to his testimony before Congress,” Rep. Smith said following the hearing. “He is an inspiring man who faced enormous personal difficulties through his service to our country. In the face of circumstances, which likely would have defeated many others, Ryan chose to devote himself to changing his and his family’s lives through his determination, his faith and with the assistance of the VetSuccess program. I am glad Ryan came to share his story, which should motivate us to ensure all veterans receive the services and care they need.”
Ryan Kaufman is the perfect example of an empowered veteran and is the epitome of what #VetsRising is all about.