Perspective: Giving Back to Our Communities

Hello again, everyone!

At the end of May I started an internship with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) knowing almost nothing about veterans and military life. The little I did know I had gleaned from watching HBO’s Generation Kill which doesn’t exactly explain what life is like for a transitioning soldier or a veteran returning to a civilian workforce. In my seven weeks here I’ve been given the opportunity to understand and learn more about the struggles and barriers many veterans face, and that with a little more public understanding and sharing of information, the process can become easier and even more beneficial.

Most of my learning has been through reading, proofing and editing some of the amazing research pieces that the IVMF produces, including the Guide to Leading Policies, Practices & Resources report that was released in June and was promoted by the White House. But my fellow colleagues have taught me a lot about the military; at one point there were five of us sitting around listening to my discussion with a colleague about the difference between an E-4 ranking in the Marines, Navy, Air Force and Army. Everyone is so eager to learn, and it makes every day fresh and unique.

Next weekend we kickoff the start of the 6th annual Barnes Family Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) at Syracuse University. We have some amazing students from diverse backgrounds and different branches of the military coming to learn the art of running a business. When I was helping to write their student profiles, the thing that really stuck out to me was that through all of their varied business ideas, the majority of the students wrote that they want to give back to the veteran community, in any form, whether it was educationally or by providing employment. So many of us, myself included, get bogged down and forget about giving back to our communities. But seeing how many veterans that go through the IVMF programs want to give back has given me new perspective on what a community is, and how we can help. As business students we have so many opportunities to participate in activities that support the greater Syracuse area, as well as those communities where we are interning. Consulting Club, Duke Games and Whitman Women in Business are just some of the groups that work with area businesses, support the Syracuse community, or national philanthropies.

Well, that’s all I can say for now; this blog post turned out differently than I expected! I set out to write about how my internship has been going at the half-way point, but how the mind wanders. I will post more about our EBV in a few weeks, and hopefully have a few pictures! Until then, stay cool and make sure to get outside and enjoy the summer!