Moving Forward: The State of the Veteran Sector
Yesterday, I had the privilege of joining Team RWB members from across the nation in a symbolic act of remembrance. We climbed 2,200 stairs to remember the events of September 11, 2001. It was a humbling experience, as are all of Team RWB’s Monthly Missions, offering an opportunity to reflect on my service and what it means to me today.
Among those of us who served post-9/11, there exists a common consensus—that fateful day marked the start of the longest wars our nation has ever faced.
Now, with a new generation of veterans emerging, it’s tempting to cast our gaze solely toward the future, identifying their needs, challenges, and how best to support them. But I’m a firm believer that if you want to move forward, you also have to take a look at where you’ve been.
Through research and my personal experiences as a Team RWB leader for over 13 years, I’ve identified a few key factors that I believe can be credited to the boom of veteran and military service organizations (VSO/MSOs) in the 2010’s:
Increased Respect for Service: Following the September 11 attacks, our nation witnessed an unprecedented wave of patriotism and respect for military service. Public support for veterans reached an all-time high, creating the perfect conditions for the emergence of numerous VSO/MSOs. From yellow ribbons to TV shows about military life, veterans and service members fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan took center stage in our culture and their service became a unifying cause.
Larger Military: The military surged in recruitment and size to meet the demands of ongoing wars, reaching its peak in 2010 alongside increased defense spending. This period also marked a significant influx of veterans returning home from deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan as they transitioned out of the military.
New Challenges: Iraq and Afghanistan followed a period of relative peace, allowing veterans and service members to voice post-combat challenges more openly than previous generations. Advances in technology saved lives, but also led to new forms and an awareness of physical, emotional, and mental injuries that did not previously exist. Resources and support poured into addressing these issues, resulting in tangible progress that we should all still be proud of today.
As we move forward through the remainder of the year, I am committed to diving deeper into the state of the military and veteran sectors. I’ll share my thoughts on how veteran service organizations have evolved since 2010, analyze the specific challenges today’s veterans face, address a lack of public support for the veteran community, and outline Team RWB’s strategic approach to these pressing issues.
You can also follow along as I address this conversation head-on via Linkedin, where I’ll share regular updates and insights. Click the link below for more information.