Colleen Bushnell

Branch: U.S. Air Force
Years Served: 1997 to 2006
Rank: Staff Sgt.
Military Occupation: Public Affairs Manager and Instructor
Hometown: Troy, NY
Twitter Handle: @colleenbushnell

Tell us a little about you outside of the military:

  • I am a mother to one son who serves in the U.S. Air Force security forces and another son who attends college, and the daughter of a World War II veteran, while my mother was a factory worker. 
  • My hometown is Troy, N.Y. which happens to be the Home of Uncle Sam (Wilson) who is a patriotic symbol beginning when he was a food supplier to the troops in the War of 1812. 
  • I consult social justice-minded documentary filmmakers and projects. 
  • I am a Protect Our Defenders Advocacy Committee Member and cycled across the U.S. in 2012 to raise awareness about military sexual assault and veteran suicide. 
  • I have advocated nationally for military justice policy reform. 
  • I’ve also provided consulting and support to active-duty military sexual trauma survivors and to families of military homicide victims. 
  • I helped bring about the Lackland Hearings on Capitol Hill in 2013 pertaining to solving the sexual assault crisis in U.S. Air Force basic training. 
  • In my spare time I take classes at Harvard Extension School, enjoy singing, photographing local musicians and concerts, and writing about leadership, and personal development, and am working on a memoir about my post-traumatic journey.

Why are you participating in the fly-in with IAVA?

  • IAVA represents the most up-to-date veteran cohort on emerging issues. My aim is to gain knowledge and experience in interacting with fellow like-minded, change-making veterans who are also willing to invest their particular skills in representing servicemembers’ and veterans’ interests and perspectives. My desire is to accelerate legislators’ access to servicemembers’ and veterans’ on-the-ground experiences, as policymakers seek to craft the most effective policies and strategies in an increasingly diverse, digital, and global society.

How did your military experience shape you to be the person you are today?

  • Military Public Affairs, telling servicemembers’ and veterans’ stories, is a passion I still carry with me as a retiree in fulfilling the promise to leave no brother or sister in arms behind. It has been an honor to use military training in journalism, community, and media relations to help shape national dialogue surrounding military workplace safety. It is essential that servicemembers’ workplaces provide a strong foundation for excellence in the interest of military preparedness. Military values such as excellence, integrity, and service before self guide me as a leading national survivor advocate who worked for more than a decade to help pass fundamental reforms pertaining to military sexual assaults, and the justice system.



More #AllStarAdvocacy videos are available in IAVA’s 2023 All-Star Advocacy Fly-In video showcase.


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