Moving beyond differences to serve our military and veterans

Moving beyond differences to serve our military and veterans
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When we experience hardships, we come together for the common good to produce positive outcomes. We must continue supporting each other, including service members and veterans, through the good and the bad, to make our nation and the world a better place. 

Sometimes divisive political rhetoric can make it seem as though supporting the military and veterans is a partisan issue, but this is a false narrative. In reality everyone in Congress wants to help Veterans, with some devoting more time to the cause than others. 

Equally, individuals and groups having little to no experience with military may not fully understand the importance of Veterans’ needs along with the overall military experience. As a society, we must move beyond these differences and focus on moving forward. 

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Being in Washington, D.C. for a panel conversation recently at the American Enterprise Institute, one of the participants came to the microphone and stated that if “we do not have anything negative to talk about in the public arenas, the Veteran agenda will appear to be running in a positive direction and the public will believe nothing needs to be done.” 

This statement has some truth to it. We all have our own individual and group interests that we devote time to. If Veteran issues are no longer projected to the public, it is a strong possibility that we might shift our focus on other issues.

The idea of a “broken Veteran” narrative has existed for years. We have ideas of how various issues and concerns can be addressed. The Department of Veterans Affairs has established a task force, and partners with various agencies including the Department of Defense. 

They have begun expanding their outreach to communities for input and feedback regarding programs and services. This information will then be used so Veterans can access the resources they need to be successful. 

When considering the military and Veteran populations, federal, state and local governments and communities strive to come together in support of the people who protect and defend us and our Democracy. 

A prime example of this is the Transition Assistance Program, where all key players are working together to help service members transition into civilian life. This is an outstanding 5-day program for those who want to take advantage of in-person classes about education, careers, community integration resources, and other important military life cycle modules

Communities are all different in terms of culture and resources. What Veterans have available to them in rural areas may be much different than resources in a more metropolitan area. 

This is why we all need to set the example of delivering culture-based programs and services in every community where Veterans reside. We need to carry this mission and vision with all work being done, regardless of whether we perceive things as going well or not. The work must not stop even with good outcomes. 

Our nation and individual communities need to come together every day to continue helping Veterans get back on their feet, and stay on their feet. 

With this unwavering commitment we can show Veterans and their families how much we care about the sacrifices made during service: being away from their families for prolonged periods of time and putting their lives at risk on and off the battlefields. 

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We must keep the public aware of the good things that are happening, but also be transparent about where we can make improvements. Being transparent and sharing information is the only way we can raise awareness to fix problems. 

The time is now to execute balance, because we are a strong nation, one nation, one people, under God where the good can outweigh the bad in every situation. God Bless our leaders and God Bless the United States of America. 

Andrew Vernon was a career employee at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for seven years. Vernon is principal for Veteran and Military Affairs at Andrew Vernon & Associates. He holds a master’s degree in Education from the University of Maine, and a master’s degree in Health Administration from the Columbia University Joseph L. Mailman School of Public Health. You can find him on Twitter: @Vernon_AndrewJ.