The Value of Veteran Leadership

Posted June 11, 2012

The organizations that make up the Leadership Pillar of Got Your 6 share one common trait: a belief that veterans are assets.  When challenged to utilize their skills and leadership here at home, veterans find renewed purpose while building stronger communities.  As announced at the Got Your 6 launch in May, The Mission Continues, Team Rubicon, The 6th Branch, and The Corporation for National and Community Service will engage veterans in 1.5 million hours of volunteer service by July 2013.

The challenge is daunting, but the potential is tremendous. Veterans are already taking the lead in tackling key educational, environmental and social issues in their communities. Together, the organizations spearheading the Leadership Pillar are empowering veterans to serve and lead across the country.

Since 2007, The Mission Continues has awarded more than 360 community service fellowships to post-9/11 veterans nationwide. This past April, United States Navy veteran Ben Seaman joined 113 other Fellows in taking a new oath of service. Through his Mission Continues Fellowship, Ben now serves with Below the Surface teaching students of all ages about the waterways of San Diego County, about how youth can connect to the ocean, and what they can do to affect change. Applying the ethic of service and leadership skills honed in military service, Ben has reenlisted in his community as a citizen leader.

Created in 2010 in response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti, Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of veterans with medical professionals to rapidly deploy emergency response teams into crisis situations. After retiring from the U.S. Army in 2012, Cal Verdin spent the first few months of his life trying to figure out his next move. He quickly realized he needed to continue his service. Cal found this purpose after the early 2012 Midwest tornadoes when he led a team of veterans providing debris clearing and home repair to victims of the storms. Today, he serves as the Director of Field Operations for Team Rubicon’s Region IX, ensuring the team is prepared for the next big natural disaster.

In Baltimore, The 6th Branch is challenging veterans to execute community service initiatives at the local level. As a team leader at one the very first Operation Oliver service projects, veteran Dave Landymore led volunteers in clearing a grove of trees that had been used for cover during the night by local drug dealers. Following the successful execution of the project, Dave now lives in a building adjacent to the cleared grove. Standing shoulder to shoulder with neighborhood residents, The 6th Branch is committed to rebuilding safe, stable communities in the Baltimore area.

When future generations look back on the scale of veterans’ service at home, the impact will be measured by communities empowered and rebuilt at the local, national and international level. At a time when the highest stations of leadership in the nation are increasingly devoid of veteran experience, we have the opportunity to engage the more than five million men and women who have served in the military since 9/11 as civic leaders. As a nation, it’s an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up.