On March 21, 2014, the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the Georgetown University McCourt School of Public Policy hosted their 2014 Public Issue Forum focused on veteran reintegration at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington Cemetery.

The theme of this year’s forum was "From Nation-Building to Community Building: Capitalizing on the Strength of Our Veterans Here at Home." (video) With an increasing numbers of talented veterans and their families returning from service, the forum explored ways to connect veterans’ skills, creativity, and leadership with the needs of the workforce and communities across the nation.

Featured speakers and panelists included: Colonel Rich Morales, White House Executive Director of Joining Forces; Dr. Irene Trowell-Harris, Major General, U. S. Air Force, Retired and former Director of the Veteran Affairs Center for Women's Veterans; Dr. Debbie Bradbard, Deputy Director of Research and Policy at Blue Star Families; Ross Cohen, Senior Director of the Hiring our Heroes Program at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Ken Falke, Chairman of the Boulder Crest Retreat for Military & Veteran Wellness; and Jim Lorraine, President of the Augusta Warrior Project.

Highlighting Our Heroes

The forum addressed the issue that more can be done to better prepare veterans and spouses to obtain meaningful employment. In addition to helping veterans cope with the challenges of reintegration, the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership and the forum’s panelists emphasized the need to highlight the talents of the men, women, and spouses who served this country.

“We are focusing on talents, assets, and leadership of veterans and their families and what they can bring to our organizations and communities,” said Dr. Kathy Kretman, Director for the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership. “I want our returning veterans to recognize that their service is valued and needed at home.“

Building Bridges

By uniting national and local leaders, veterans, and civilians, the forum aimed to share best practices and connect resources across nonprofit, private, and public sectors and from national to local levels. Panelists and audience members discussed the need for stronger partnerships and collaborative communication to bridge the gap between civilian and military service communities.

Answering the Call to Serve Our Veterans

Although there are over 46,000 agencies across sectors dedicated to serving veterans, the challenge lies in ensuring that veterans and their families are informed about the resources and employment opportunities available in their communities. From using a holistic model that integrates veterans’ spouses and children to engaging small businesses and industry leaders, the forum offered innovative solutions to improve outreach to veterans and their families.

“One percent of our nation serves this country. This is the one percent that will come home and change the nation,” said Ken Falke (MPM ’11), Chairman of the Boulder Crest Retreat for Military & Veteran Wellness. “I guarantee you that they will be your best employees, but you have to give them a chance. You have to make the reintegration back into society as fair as you can.”

About the Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership

The Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership at the McCourt School of Public Policy was launched in 1997 as an initiative to strengthen America’s nonprofit sector. Today, the Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership is recognized globally for its dedication to helping students, practitioners and policymakers increase their capacity to work across sectors, address public needs, and promote the public good. For more information on Center for Public & Nonprofit Leadership, please visit cpnl.georgetown.edu.