THE N.Y.C. VETERAN’S ALLIANCE

Our “Frontline to Home Front” series hits home with roughly 500,000 veterans and their families living in the city. We meet The NYC Veterans Alliance, a group that is trying to serve them all.

Aired on October 10, 2018. 

TRANSCRIPT

DID YOU KNOW HALF A MILLION VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS LIVE IN THE FIVE BOROUGHS IN THIS PART OF OUR SIERZ, 'FRONTLINE TO HOME FRONT,' WE'RE INVESTIGATING THE ISSUES THAT MATTER MOST TO OUR VETERANS WHO OFTEN FACE A DAUNTING CHALLENGE TRANSITIONING TO CIVILIAN LIFE.

FROM VA HEALTH CARE CUTBACKS AND REPORTS OF SUBSTANDARD CARE TO EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL PROGRAMS, MONTHLY MEETINGS, THE NYC VETERANS ALLIANCE STAFFED AND LED BY VETERANS HAS BEEN WORKING TO SUPPORT THEIR OWN FELLOWS.

JOINING US TONIGHT WITH THEIR STORY, THE STORIES OF OTHERS WHO HAVE GIVEN SO MUCH FOR THE COUNTRY, NYC VETERANS ALLIANCE FOUNDER KRISTIN ROUSE AND ADRIAN BRAMER, BOTH OF WHOM HAVE SERVED THEIR COUNTRIES.

WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU WITH US.

CHRIS, I'LL START WITH YOU, AS SOMEONE INVOLVED IN THE CREATION, HOW DID THIS ORGANIZATION GET STARTED AND WHY DID IT GET STARTED?

SO, YOU KNOW, FIRST THANKS SO MUCH FOR HAVING US ON HERE AND FOR BRINGING US ON TO TELL OUR STORY.

> WHEN I CAME HOME FROM MY THIRD TOUR OF DUTY IN AFGHANISTAN, I CAME HOME IN EARLY 2013 AND I KNOW THAT I NEEDED HELP CONNECTING WITH OTHER VETERANS AND REALLY LIKE FINDING THE COMMUNITY AND THE SUPPORT THAT I NEEDED TO FEEL LIKE I WAS BACK HOME IN NEW YORK CITY.

AND IT WAS A STRUGGLE TO FIND INFORMATION.

AND ALSO AS SOMEBODY WHO IS PAYING CLOSE ATTENTION TO WHAT'S HAPPENING AT CITY -- IN CITY GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS STATE GOVERNMENT AS WELL AS WHAT'S HAPPENING NATIONALLY, I NOTICED THAT VETERANS AND FAMILY MEMBERS WERE BARELY A POLITICAL AFTERTHOUGHT IN OUR CITY GOVERNMENT AT THAT TIME.

THERE WAS A VERY, A VERY TINY MAYORAL OFFICE THAT WAS DEDICATED TO VETERANS AT THAT TIME.

AND I LOOKED AROUND AND TALKED WITH OTHER MEMBERS OF OUR VETERANS COMMUNITY AND OTHER ADVOCATES, OLDER VETERANS WHO HAD BEEN PAYING ATTENTION FOR SOMETIME.

AND EVEN THOUGH WE HAVE QUITE A NUMBER OF VETERANS IN THE NEW YORK METRO AREA, WE'RE NOT REALLY CONCENTRATED LIKE IN OTHER STATES, LIKE TEXAS, YOU KNOW, OR OTHER LOCATIONS THAT ARE MUCH MORE FOCUSED ON TALKING ABOUT VETERANS AND TALKING ABOUT MILITARY SERVICE.

AND SO WE'RE MORE SPREAD OUT HERE IN NEW YORK.

AND NEW YORK IS ALSO HOME OF EVERYTHING.

SO IT'S -- IT WAS REALLY IMPORTANT AT THAT TIME TO START SHIFTING THE FOCUS TO VETERANS, TO THE MILITARY, TO MILITARY SERVICE, TO THOSE OF US WHO HAVE BEEN DEPLOYED.

SOME OF US MANY TIMES IN OUR POST-9/11 WARS.

AS WELL AS BRING MORE RECOGNITION TO THE VETERANS WHO SERVED IN EARLIER ERAS TO INCLUDE THE COLD WAR, TO INCLUDE THE FIRST DESERT STORM, SOMALIA, OTHER COMPLEX LIKE THE EFFORTS IN KOSOVO.

THERE ARE A LOT OF VETERANS WHO FEEL UNRECOGNIZED FOR THEIR SERVICE.

YOU WOULD THINK IN THIS ERA, WHERE YOU GET ACCESS TO ANYTHING YOU WANT -- AND SOME THINGS THAT YOU DON'T WANT, YOU JUST DON'T GET ACCESS TO.

BUT YOU WOULDN'T IMMEDIATELY THINK THAT A LACK OF INFORMATION WOULD BE A REAL ISSUE.

WHY DO YOU THINK IT HAS BEEN A PROBLEM, HOWEVER?

I THINK IT'S THAT IT CAN BE HARD TO FIND THE INFORMATION BECAUSE IT'S IN SO MANY PLACES.

SO WHAT MY PART OF THE VETERANS ALLIANCE IS IS PUTTING INFORMATION ON OUR VETERANS.NYC WHICH IS AN INFORMATION HUB, EVENTS AND RESOURCES FOR VETERANS --

I WENT ON IT, BY THE WAY, TO LOOK AT IT.

IT'S FASCINATING HOW MUCH YOU HAVE ON THERE.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

WE GET A LOT OF INFORMATION PASSED TO US FROM THE V.A., FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF VETERAN SERVICES FOR NEW YORK CITY.

A LOT OF DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS, AND IT ALL GOES TO ONE SPOT SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEND AN HOUR LOOKING FOR SOMETHING SPECIFIC.

YOU CAN GO RIGHT THERE AND FIND IT.

WE GET ABOUT -- LAST MONTH WE HAD 6000 INDIVIDUAL PAGE VIEWS FOR AUGUST FOR PEOPLE LOOKING FOR INFORMATION AND RESOURCES.

SHE'S POSTED MORE THAN 2,500 EVENTS ON OUR CALENDAR SINCE WE STARTED IN 2015.

THAT'S IMPRESSIVE.

THAT'S A LOT.

IT'S A LOT --

THAT'S A LOT.

TO PROVIDE RESOURCES SO VETERANS KNOW WHERE TO CONNECT AND TO FIND A RESOURCE THAT FITS THEM AND MEETS THEIR NEED.

BUT THE EVENTS THAT WE PUT ON AS AN ORGANIZATION HAVE SOME KIND OF CONNECTION TO CIVIC LEADERSHIP.

WE WANT VETERANS TO BE ENGAGED IN WHAT'S HAPPENING IN OUR CITY GOVERNMENT AND OUR STATE GOVERNMENT.

WE WANT OUR MEMBERSHIP TO VOTE.

WE WANT TO BE INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS.

IN NEW YORK CITY WE HISTORICALLY HAD A VERY LOW VOTER TURNOUT, BUT OUR MEMBERSHIP IS VERY ENGAGED.

THEY TELL US IN THE SURVEY THAT WE'VE DONE NEARLY ALL OF THEM CONSISTENTLY VOTE IN GENERAL ELECTIONS AS WELL AS IN PRIMARIES.

AND THAT'S, THAT'S SOMETHING VERY SPECIAL, AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT WE NEED TO MAKE SURE IS ENERGIZED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS.

VETERANS, BY AND LARGE, WE SIGN UP FOR SERVICE BECAUSE WE WANT TO SERVE OUR COMMUNITY.

WE WANT TO SERVE OUR COUNTRY.

WE WANT TO BE PROUD OF DOING THINGS FOR OTHERS, OF SERVING A HIGHER PURPOSE.

AND THAT COMMITMENT TO SERVICE, SOMETIMES PUTTING OUR LIVES ON THE LINE WHEREVER IT IS THAT WE SERVED, WE ARE WILLING TO DO THAT.

WE ARE TRAINED AS LEADERS, WE ARE TRAINED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS AND WE WANT TO SOLVE PROBLEMS.

I'VE GOT TO TELL YOU, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I'VE CERTAINLY BEEN STRUCK BY, AND WE HAVE AS PART OF THE SERIES WE'VE BEEN DOING IS HOW OFTEN WE'RE SEEING VETERANS LIKE YOURSELVES WHO VOLUNTEERED TO SERVE TO START WITH AND ARE CONTINUING TO SERVE AFTER THEY CAME BACK.

I THINK THE TWO OF YOU ARE JUST MARVELOUS ILLUSTRATIONS OF THAT.

THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE OUT THERE BENEFITING.

I WANT TO THANK YOU FIRST FOR YOUR SERVICE, AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUED SERVICE.

AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR GROUP BEING SUCCESSFUL AND WE'LL CHECK IN WITH YOU AS WE MOVE DOWN THE ROAD AND SEE HOW YOU'RE DOING.

BUT THANK YOU BOTH FOR SPENDING SOME TIME WITH ALL THE WORK YOU'RE DOING.

AND ALREADY A LOT OF PEOPLE OUT THERE WHO THANK YOU FOR DOING SO.

> FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HASLET RANZ NYC ALLIANCE AND SERIES DETAILING VETERANS POST 9/11, VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG.

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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