The focus of the roundtable was, How do we improve the reentry experience of war veterans into the American economy and society? Since less than 1% of Americans currently serve in the military, it's a really important conversation to have. We need to talk about how to help our vets and service members reintegrate into society, including economically.
I talked a little about translating the skills that servicemen and women have into the language of the workplace so that recruiters and human resource folks can better understand how to leverage their assets. I figure if a person's going to maybe go out there and risk taking a bullet protecting me, I could do something, like help them get a job.
Hey, I recently spoke at Nonprofit 2.0's Unconference in Washington, and it turns out, I really am a nerd.
In high school, and this is 50s/60s, I really did grow up wearing a plastic pocket protector, thick black glasses taped together, and I had the requisite social skills to go with that. And even now, I can simulate social skills for an hour, maybe 2, then I get pretty cranky. You may wonder if I'm joking or serious, and the answer is both.
I figure a few of the things I talked about at the Unconference could be considered the life philosophies of a nerd…
Pictured is the #20 nephew, aka The Kumquat. He's the one (visibly) drooling.
On Money -
We put a lot of money into feeding people, and a lot of people are still hungry. We put a lot of money into education, and that doesn't seem to work so well. Which I don't get. We put a lot of money into housing, and yet there's still people without houses.
At some point in 1999, after I'd founded some site called craigslist, I'd go to parties in Silicon Valley and they suggest I do the easy Silicon Valley path of monetizing like crazy, then cashing out for huge amounts of money.
I decided I don't need that. I just want to be comfortable and share that with friends and family. Since I got married recently my niece/nephew count went from 2 to 20 – my wife's side of the family is terribly fertile.
(At the risk of a tangent, I haven't been in craigslist management in about 14 years, don't speak for the company, and haven't done so for a long time.)
On Social Change -
Long term I want to figure out how to give a voice, using the internet, to everyone on the planet. A lot of people who are doing good work, like Mark, and Sergio, and Larry. They want to do work to change the world.
You can't make change from the top down. The president's the most powerful person in the world, but not that powerful. What's powerful is when people in the trenches work together to get things done, and that's what makes a difference.
My ambitions are to get people in the world to work together. To get stuff done. That's what changes things. There are opportunities of power to emerge from people who work together effectively. I don't know how that works.
I look at the social media leaders in the past who were good at doing things. An early blogger was Julius Caesar, he blogged, even though it was very low tech.
It got a little better with Martin Luther, who decided to use an evolved form of the same network. He got pretty good, blogging on a church blog. Of course Luther was assisted by this printing press thing – and this evolved in the Twitter revolution of 1688. John Locke, the one who lived in 1688, not the John Locke in Lost. Good show, but you could only understand it if you knew a lot about quantum physics. I know a lot of you want to hear it more about quantum physics, but more later… Just be glad I'm not going on a Game of Thrones rant.
On Vets, Milfams, and Getting Stuff Done -
My biggest priority area's to support vets and military families. Ultimately, if a person's going to maybe go out there and risk taking a bullet protecting me, I could do something, like help them get a job.
The group hardest to support getting something done is the Department of Veterans Affairs. They're actually doing a lot of good work, but they have some real problems. The whole org of 360K people are being demonized by a very small group of people who started those efforts a while back, and now the whole org is demoralized.
And, mostly, I'm doing all of this quietly because I've learned that in this town you can get a lot of credit or you can get stuff done. But not both.
Folks, I've got lots more, but brevity is the soul of wit. Maybe just get the word out and stop talking. More to come…
Folks, as you get ready to celebrate the 4th of July, it’s important that we remember all those veterans and milfam orgs who really have their boots on the ground making a difference for our country. I know I have talked about the good work that IAVA and Swords to Plowshares does. Here are five more veterans and milfam orgs to check out that were part of the Veterans Charity Challenge 2.
Dog Tag Bakery
Dog Tag Bakery is an entrepreneurial program focused on education and employment for veterans with disabilities and their spouses. Here's how their venture works. They hire cohorts of wounded veterans and their spouses to complete a program that provides both substantive work experience and a tailor made curriculum at the School of Continuing Studies at Georgetown University. During the day, veterans operate the bakery: learning skills from baking to sales to business management. At the same time, they pursue a course of study focusing on small business administration and entrepreneurship, providing each student with the skills needed for the successful pursuit of a job or the foundation to create a small business venture of their own.
Healing4Heroes is dedicated to assisting military service members and veterans lead healthy, productive lives. They connect wounded service members, as well as those with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury, with certified service dogs. The Service dogs are free of charge to veterans.
National Military Family Association
Military families are the strength of our servicemen and women. More than 2 million children have struggled with a parent’s deployment—often leaving them with deep, emotional scars that don’t disappear when the service member returns. For 45 years, the National Military Family Association has supported the families of the currently serving, wounded, survivors, and retired. Their services include retreats for wounded service members and their families, summer camps for the children of those deployed, and educational scholarships for spouses.
Returning Veterans Project
Returning Veterans Project provides free confidential counseling and complementary health care services in Oregon and Southwest Washington for Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans, National Guard, Reserve, Active Duty Service Members, and their families. Their services are free because they recruit, train and support a large network of licensed, community-based practitioners who volunteer by opening a pro bono slot in their practice for those they serve.
Full Circle Home
Full Circle Home supports the special women of our Armed Forces during deployments. Through donations and corporate partnerships, FCH arranges for gift boxes to be sent on behalf of service members to the home front. These boxes, filled with a variety of pampering products, and most importantly, a hand written note, help to comfort and support military wives and mothers during heart-wrenching separation.
What organizations would you like to see added to this list?
Hey, big news just in time for Independence Day! We just raised $346,438 for America's Heroes during the Veterans Charity Challenge 2. The organizations raised $296,438 online. Another $5,265 was raised offline, and I gave $50,000 to support these Veterans, Military Families, Police, and Firefighter organizations.
A total of 94 teams signed up. All of 'em were the real deal. Folks, I can't thank you enough for all the good work you're doing.
The grand prize winner of $20K is Warrior Canine Connection (WCC), which raised $74,687 for training therapeutic service dogs. WCC utilizes clinically based Canine Connection Therapy to empower returning combat Veterans who have sustained physical and psychological wounds while in service to our country. This is WCC's second time coming in first place.
2nd place winner of $10K is Dogs on Deployment, which raised $32,800 to give military members peace of mind concerning their pets during their service commitments by providing them with the ability to find people and resources able to help them.
3rd place winner of $5K is Leave No Veteran Behind (LNVB), which raised $26,528 for their innovative educational debt relief scholarship, community service, employment training, and job placement programs. LNVB invests in heroes who have honorably served our nation and seek to continue their service as productive citizens in their communities. Last year LNVB came in 2nd place.
It was really close in the end, and an exciting finish. Our team was able to call and chat with (or leave messages for) each of the big winners, and really thank them for all they're doing for our service members and their families. I figure if someone's willing to risk their life for me, this is the least I can do to give back…
Over the course of the Challenge, there were 6 Bonus Challenges, and we had 13 teams win.
Bonus Challenge #6, the first 5 charities to get 5 donations this week: Things We Read won $2K.
I'll be interviewing some of the winners in the coming weeks…more to come…
If you didn't give during the Challenge, you can still give now. And it's a great way to honor our heroes for Independence Day, and really, every day.
Did you participate in the Veterans Charity Challenge 2? I'd like to hear your feedback. And again, congrats to all those orgs who really have their boots on the ground making a difference for our heroes.
Hey, there are just a few days left in Veterans Charity Challenge 2 and we're raising money to help out folks who are risking their lives for us, and their families. We need your help. I figure, the least we can do is give back. These charities do some really innovative work to support vets, and other American heroes.
If you want to help these orgs out that're supporting veterans, police officers, military families, and firefighters, now's your chance to give to the nonprofit of your choice. Over $225,700 has already been raised for causes that are the real deal, but with the important work they're doing, they can use as much help as we're able to give.
Folks, a few reasons you should support this Challenge:
All money raised goes directly to organizations supporting veterans, military families, police, and firefighters.
The participating nonprofits are doing good work, for example:
Some orgs are helping to take care of military member's pets,
Others provide educational and employment services to vets who face economic hardship,
A few are raising the money to provide scholarships to kids of milfams,
Others train service dogs for returning veterans,
Some of the money raised will go toward providing mentors to women vets looking for jobs,
With your support, these organizations will have the opportunity to win the prize money awarded to first ($20k), second ($10k), and third place ($5k). But, hey, please remember that even if the org you support doesn't end up coming in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place, they'll still keep all the money they raise.
Email CrowdRise with all questions and they'll be ready with great customer service.