Leader Spotlight

 

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By Michael Trudeau

One of the most rewarding elements of being a Vets for American Ideals (VFAI) leader has been meeting committed, patriotic friends and neighbors—individuals who are spending their time building up, not tearing down. I’ve had the privilege of meeting men and women who embody—and in doing so, challenge me to embody—our motto, “Service Doesn’t Stop.”

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Our Leader Spotlights offer a glimpse into our diverse leadership: veterans who are continuing to serve their country and community in creative ways. Today, we profiled Tammy Barlet, United States Coast Guard veteran and VFAI leader based in both Washington, DC and Pennsylvania.

1.     Tell me about your military service. (What branch? When and where did you serve? Why did you join the military?)

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Our Leader Spotlights offer a glimpse into our diverse leadership: veterans who are continuing to serve their country and community in creative ways. Today, we profiled Christian Bellavia, United States Army veteran and VFAI leader in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Our Leader Spotlights offer a glimpse into our diverse leaders: veterans who are continuing to serve their country and community in creative ways. Today, we profiled VFAI leader Andrea N. Goldstein, United States Navy veteran and Chief Executive Officer at Service to School. Fun fact: Andrea is also the co-host of a fabulous podcast, "2 Vets Upstate." Check it out here!

1.     Tell me about your military service. (What branch? When and where did you serve? Why did you join the military?)

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My time in the Marine Corps showed me that service comes in many forms. As a veteran I often hear “thank you for your service,” meaning my service to my country. As I look back, however, I think my service was more to my fellow Marines. Where I really made an impact, and where I felt I was the most useful, was when I was helping, teaching, and mentoring other Marines—and that’s something I can do out of uniform. Service isn’t just about wearing cammies or deploying overseas, service is about helping the people around you.

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As veterans, we worked in diverse and dynamic locations. We worked with people from all over the United States, and all over the world, and we did it well. We have the communication and leadership skills to get things accomplished; continue to utilize those skills as you integrate yourself back into civilian life, both in and out of uniform.

If you have an interest or a passion that is important to you, don't wait to be voluntold, seek out opportunities to get involved! Talk about your experiences in the military, and use your story as a way to connect with and remind others how American ideals are still important in your life even after service. Don't think of yourself as another random voice in the crowd; you're a veteran.

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Matthew Deibel is a U.S. Marine veteran and artist. Thematically, Deibel explores his experience and perspective of combat, often focusing on civilian casualties in Iraq, but touching on other urgent humanitarian issues as well, specifically, the global refugee crisis.

“To me, it’s very important,” he says, “and my art is about things I find important…I try to make art that is accessible and sparks a dialogue.”

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One of the last lines of the Soldier's Creed is: "I am a guardian of freedom and the American way of life."  We raised our right hands not only to defend the constitution, but to protect the concepts of individual liberty, social equality, the pursuit of happiness, and the protection of lives by our government. 

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"If more veterans speak their minds, people will see the diversity of the military, that we don’t just fit into this one cookie cutter mold of what people think veterans are," says U.S. Coast Guard veteran Atsuko Sakurai.

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"We have forgotten when we were led into a room where the flag of our country and a copy of the Constitution were displayed and we raised our right hand and swore to defend its principles," says VFAI leader Buck Cole. "We have to recapture and reinforce its rightful place in American society, and veterans should play a leading role in that effort."

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