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Guest blogger Maya Enista is the CEO of Mobilize.org, an organization which makes democracy work better by investing in Millennial-driven solutions.
Mobilize.org recently co-convened the Beyond the Welcome Home Summit, a gathering aimed at bringing millenial veterans together to brainstorm ways to help veterans make a rewarding and meaningful transition back to civilian life.
One day in 2002, I walked into my younger brother’s room and saw him doing push ups. I asked why and he shared with me the good news that he had been accepted into the United States Military Academy at West Point. I pushed him; and the push-ups? He told me that if he couldn’t do 50 push-ups, he probably shouldn’t go. That made sense to me. Whether or not he finished those push-ups I don’t know, but his path of service and community took him instead to Union College and now to Rutgers Law, where he is active in the Newark community.
I was proud of him for considering service to our country. Our love of the this country and duty to serve came from the same place - as the children of Romanian immigrants, we had a deep appreciation for that our parents had given up everything to come to. I have great admiration for the men and women who choose to bravely serve this amazing country and it is an honor to have had the opportunity to convene the Beyond the Welcome Home Summit last month in Los Angeles, CA with our partners ServiceNation: Mission Serve, MTVu and Student Veteran’s of America.
I have unbelievable memories of our three days in sunny Los Angeles; together we put together 7,500 USO Care Packages for troops serving in Afghanistan and listened to Mrs. Marie Tillman as she read excerpts of Pat Tillman’s journal, chronicling his decision to serve. The veteran’s received a well deserved thank you for their service from David Arquette, Olivia Munn, and other celebrities and they were able to see their names in lights at the Home Depot Center as they were featured on the jumbo-tron at half-time of the LA Galaxy’s first home game of the season.
But most importantly, the three days were spent sharing stories and working collaboratively to create, support and sustain meaningful opportunities for veteran-led innovation on our campuses and in our communities. From Rick Lawson and the War Experience Project, whose art says what words can’t say about the feelings and experiences of our Veterans, to Leighann Dunn, who is working in South Dakota to ensure that our academic institutions understand the needs of this community, to Adam Renteria, whose 11 year old son joined us for the week to share in this amazing experience; it was a powerful, touching and life-changing opportunity that I’m thrilled to be able to share with you today. This event was made possible by the generous support of the McCormick Foundation, the Goldhirsh Foundation and of course, our friend at the Case Foundation and today, we have the opportunity to share these amazing memories of the Beyond the Welcome Home Summit, thanks to our partners at MTVu: http://www.mtvu.com/activism/beyond-the-welcome-home/
Mobilize.org is proud to award $25,000 to the top projects, chosen by their peers, through the use of interactive keypad voting technology. Watch the video and learn more about the work of our five Democracy 2.0 Award Winners – Team Rubicon, Athena Bridge, Warriors in Service and Veteran’s Green Jobs . To get involved with these important projects or learn more about Beyond the Welcome Home, please email me at email@example.com.