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3 posts categorized "Veterans"

Memorializing Veterans by Helping Those Who Are Here

May 26, 2016

Soldier-and-daughter-300As America draws down its forces after fifteen years of military conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq, Memorial Day seems like a particularly good occasion to share lessons and stories from a coalition of foundations and corporate funders that is working to help veterans and their families.

A projected one million soldiers will return to civilian life between now and 2020. While many service members make that transition without event, others struggle to overcome the lack of dedicated pathways to affordable education, for themselves and their children, or to prepare themselves for a job in the civilian sector.

What's more, many veterans do not receive adequate support as they wrestle with these challenges. That is why the Philanthropy Joining Forces Impact Pledge has secured commitments from more than thirty-five foundations and corporations to invest nearly $285 million to support those who have served our country as they transition back to civilian life.

The PwC Charitable Foundation joined this group eight months after making a five-year, $5 million-plus commitment to support some of the best veterans service organizations in the country. Our work with veterans and the organizations that support them has been a learning experience. The challenges veterans face are complex and different for each individual. However, if we really want to make a lasting, sustainable impact, we have learned that we need to:

1. Build veterans' awareness of services. Many transitioning soldiers are unaware of the myriad services offered by veterans organizations in the U.S. Sponsoring job and service fairs can help veterans realize they are not alone as they look for a good job or scope out educational opportunities for their children.

2. Expose veterans to corporate work. Many veterans who leave the military are under the age of 25. Often, they have had little exposure to the corporate world, much less private-sector jobs. According to Eric Ahn, D.C. program director at FourBlock, a PwC Charitable Foundation grantee, giving veterans a chance to learn about corporate culture and helping them see how their passions align with corporate values can go a long way in improving their chances of finding a career that fits their interests and capabilities.

3. Translate military skills. Service members sometimes have difficulty seeing how the "soft skills" they have developed leading troops, mapping out strategies, and making decisions in a conflict situation can translate to private-sector work. As part of a $1 million investment in FourBlock, PwC hosts workshops where the firm's partners and staff work one-on-one with veterans to translate their grit and military experiences into resume-builders and interview talking points. At the same time, partners and staff also educate PwC recruiting managers about the value veterans can bring to the workplace.

4. Collaborate with other veterans groups. Americans across the country have formed dozens of nonprofits to help veterans with the challenges they face. Many of these organizations provide valuable services, even as they operate in isolation from other VSOs and nonprofits. Funders and donors need to do what they can to help these groups share best practices, eliminate duplication, and create synergies. Philanthropy Joining Forces is a prime example of how to drive impact through collaboration.

At the PwC Charitable Foundation, we are constantly learning about what works well in our work with veterans groups. One of our favorite success stories from the past year came out of our work with FourBlock. Many combat veterans find themselves limited to industries such as law enforcement or security contracting. Former Marine scout sniper Nate Hall wanted more. Through FourBlock's program, and our own PwC workshops, Hall was inspired to pursue a career in cybersecurity. FourBlock introduced Hall to PwC senior associate and military veteran Jon Stresing, who volunteers to mentor FourBlock participants. While working with Hall, Stresing also worked to educate recruiters in PwC’s cybersecurity program about the suitability of his skills. It turned out to be a natural match, and PwC hired Hall.

We want to continue to make a difference in the lives of veterans like Nate Hall, and we know many of the organizations we work with feel the same. Over the last year, we've been bouncing ideas off each other and learning from each other's work. Our current goal is to help 100,000 vets. But with the help of more corporations, organizations, and individuals, we believe we can increase that number substantially. So, this Memorial Day, take a moment to reflect on our returning veterans and what you can to do to help them succeed in the next phase of their lives.

Headshot_frank_gaudioFrank Gaudio is veterans liaison, a trustee, and member of the board of directors at the PwC Charitable Foundation, where he oversees the foundation's Veteran's Program Initiative. Gaudio also served as U.S. deputy tax leader for markets and operations at PwC.

5 Questions for...Charles Bailey, Director, Agent Orange in Vietnam Program

August 19, 2013

Headshot_charles_baileyFrom 1997 to 2007, Charles Bailey was the Ford Foundation representative in Vietnam. At the start of his posting, the war in Vietnam had been over for more than twenty years, but one of its legacies, environmental contamination caused by the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange, was an under-addressed concern. Bailey looked into the facts of Agent Orange use in the Southeast Asian country and began to develop a vocabulary that American and Vietnamese officials could use to discuss the issue. After a few years, Ford invited the Aspen Institute, which has expertise in facilitating difficult conversations, to initiate a dialogue around the issue, and the two governments began to talk. Eventually, the United Nations, other NGOs and foundations, and several European governments joined the conversation.

But one thing was missing, says Bailey, and that was a way to connect the American public to the effort. With his encouragement, Active Voice, a social documentary shop in San Francisco, put together a three-minute public-service video, "Make Agent Orange History," while San Francisco State University contributed fresh reporting to the discussion through its Vietnam Reporting Project. In 2011, Bailey moved to the Aspen Institute, where he continues to support dialogue, advocacy, and public education around the issue.

Recently, PND spoke with Bailey about the Agent Orange program and what remains to be done.

Philanthropy News Digest: Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang recently met with President Obama in Washington, D.C. Why was the meeting significant?

Charles Bailey: President Sang is the second Vietnamese head-of-state to visit the U.S. since the two countries normalized relations in 1995, and his visit was an important opportunity to celebrate the remarkable progress made since 2007 in at last addressing the legacy of Agent Orange. Over the last six years, our Agent Orange in Vietnam Program has had a hand in raising over $100 million to assist Vietnam to begin to deal with this legacy from the U.S.-Vietnam War. Even more important for the future, President Obama and President Sang issued a joint statement at the end of their talks on July 26 that contained a key statement: "The president reaffirmed the United States' commitment to providing further medical and other care and assistance for people with disabilities, regardless of cause."

I published an op-ed in the Huffington Post on the occasion urging both presidents to take advantage of this breakthrough and include language on disability services and rights as part of a new comprehensive partnership agreement between the U.S. and Vietnam.

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2012 Year in Review: Veterans Issues, Initiatives Gain Support

January 02, 2013

Yir_2012With the war in Iraq over and America’s long engagement in Afghanistan coming to a close, philanthropic investments in nonprofit organizations seeking to address the needs of returning service members and their families moved front and center in 2012, continuing a decade-long trend. But even with veterans issues getting more attention, thanks in part to 2012 Charles Bronfman Prize winner Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL and founder of The Mission Continues, concerns grew over insufficient coordination in an increasingly crowded field.

Initiatives announced during the year in support of veterans and military families sought to address a range of issues, from employment and housing, to mental health and wellness, to access to higher education. In April, for example, the University of Southern California received a $10 million gift from alumnus and board trustee William J. Schoen and his wife, Sharon, to provide scholarships to veterans enrolled at USC's Marshall School of Business and Viterbi School of Engineering. In May, the Robin Hood Foundation, in partnership with the White House and the New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, announced an initiative to provide job placement services to returning service personnel in the city, where veterans make up 20 percent of homeless adults. In a similar vein, the Walmart Foundation awarded $1 million to Goodwill Industries and $750,000 to Swords to Plowshares, a community-based organization that provides wrap-around care to more than two thousand veterans in the San Francisco Bay Area, in support of efforts to help veterans secure employment and long-term financial stability.

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