Leader Spotlight

"We have to meet people where they are, and talk about our issues in a way that is applicable to people’s everyday lives. I’ve become a lot more aware of how I discuss issues seen as partisan, and I try to assume the best in the people I talk to," says Mac McEachin is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran who works on issues including refugee protection and the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program. 

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Colonel Reed Bonadonna is a former Marine Corps infantry officer, field historian, and author. He says, "Some people think that we can’t afford our ideals, but the fact is that we can’t afford to go without them."

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"When we talk about making America great again, veterans can do that through their service. We have an opportunity to use our sense of duty to improve our community and make our nation a more welcoming and fair place to live," says Chris Purdy, a U.S. Army National Guard veteran who served in Iraq and leader of the VFAI Atlanta team.

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"I’d say to other veterans that the issues that VFAI believes in are the same issues that you believe in. And you can definitely play a role," says Colin Raunig, a U.S. Navy veteran and MFA student of fiction at Colorado State University.

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"I have so much hope for our future when I look at our young people and see the multiracial society they are growing up in today. That’s the America I fell in love with when I was in the military, and that diversity is one of the things that makes our military, and our country, the most powerful in the world." Read more from Arti Walker-Peddakotla, a U.S. Army veteran and the daughter of immigrants from India.

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Shannon Rhein is a former Army Medic who was wounded in action during a mortar attack in Ramadi in 2006. Today she serves by helping homeless families at a nonprofit in Texas. "Just because we came home and took that uniform off doesn’t mean that the United States stopped entrusting us with the responsibility to defend our country—and that includes what is happening here in our own neighborhoods."

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"Veterans, working together, can have significant influence in public policy issues. Select an organization that reflects your values, financially support the organization, and get involved." That's the advice of Gen. Murray Sagsveen is a retired Army Brigadier General and lawyer who currently serves on the board of Lutheran Relief Services in Bismark, MD and is involved in the Human Rights First Coalition of Retired Military Leaders.

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"I'm proud to have been a part of establishing a new history of American women serving in the 21st c." Read more about Kelsey Campbell, a U.S. Air Force veteran and former Pentagon advisor, currently a Tony Patiño Fellow at UC Hastings College of the Law.

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"Speak up, and don’t leave anyone behind." That's the advice for other veterans from VFAI leader Travis Weiner, a U.S. Army veteran and a law student at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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"We owe it to everyone—veterans, interpreters, the American people in general—to speak up," says Tony Clapp, a VFAI leader and retired EA-6B Naval Flight Officer with over 25 years of service.

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