It’s in the lifeblood of the military community. So, it doesn’t come as a shock that veterans find themselves continuing to serve long after they’ve put away their boots and dog tags. While some veterans find themselves drawn back to service through the Reserves, National Guard, police force, or as first responders, others find themselves fixing problems in their community through organizing. No matter the method, these four groups are engaging veterans in service to their communities and each other.
1. These veterans stop gang violence and help kids get to school
Every day, between 40 and 50 veterans from Leave No Veteran Behind help more than 10,000 Chicago students get to and from school safely. Standing as silent guards against gun and gang violence, the veterans aren’t considered security, rather vigilant adults in the community who are able to mitigate and deescalate dangerous behavior.
2. These veterans acted as human shields for environmental protesters
More than 2,000 veterans traveled to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota in December of 2016 to act as human shields for Dakota Access Pipeline protesters. The group, Veterans Standing for Standing Rock, included Representative Tulsi Gabbard and Wes Clark, Jr.
3. These veterans save children from predators
An exclusively veteran team (with many who were wounded, members of elite special ops, or veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan), called the HERO Child-Rescue Corps, tracks down online sexual predators. The program is run in conjunction with Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Special Operations Command. On average, one member of HERO can stop 50 online predators a year.
4. These veterans help keep each other on the straight and narrow
For veterans struggling with drug addiction, a court is the last place they want to end up. But for some in Hampton, VA, it’s where support and healing begins. Those court-ordered to participate in the city’s military track includes a 4-step plan and other stipulations, including staying accountable to another veteran in the program. The program has graduated three classes since 2014 of veterans who are putting their lives back together.