« 11 questions you should always ask a recruiter | Main | Getting rid of standardized testing will penalize kids from underserved schools  »

What does ‘Jumanji’ have to do with advocacy?

April 08, 2021

Burn_pitsReleased in movie theaters twenty-six years ago, Jumanji became an instant classic. In the movie, an ominous drumbeat called to unsuspecting players as they neared the mysterious game, drawing them into its world. In 2017, the movie’s success was rebooted with mega-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but this time as a video game. The franchise had changed with the times, but one thing remained the same: the drumbeat drew the interest of the unsuspecting, drawing them into playing a game they had been completely unaware of.

What does Jumanji have to do with advocacy? If you think about it, advocacy is like a steady drumbeat, one that draws the people who hear it to a cause. It is the art (and science) of leveraging awareness to create positive social change. But while awareness-raising is a critical component of any advocacy effort, every once in a while we need to roll the dice and bring people together to hammer home the urgent need for change for the nearly four million veterans who have served in the U.S. armed forces since 9/11.

Just as Jumanji evolved from a board game into a video game, the fundraising events mounted by Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) have also changed. Late last month, instead of flying veterans to Washington for our annual fly-in event (as we've done every year since 2004), we sought to create the same kind of impact with a series of virtual meetings between the veteran community and members of Congress. Despite the change in format, we were able to share stories from the veteran community, encourage lawmakers to serve as our allies, and advocate for change.

During the virtual meetings, veterans from around the country met with elected officials to persuade them to co-sponsor legislation that can help veterans. Over the past four months, IAVA has worked hard to advocate for legislation that will help curtail the suicide epidemic among veterans, support and recognize women veterans, advance post-service training for veterans to improve their reintegration into civil society, and protect the appropriation of GI Bill benefits for post-9/11 veterans. We have had a lot of success, but there's work to be done.

Most importantly, there are two pieces of veterans-related legislation, the TEAM Act and the WARFIGHTERS Act, both of them related to veterans exposed to burn pits and other toxic exposures, that must be passed. When our veterans signed up to protect the country, they didn't expect to be exposed to toxic substances and practices overseas that often lead to long-term ailments. Veterans who are suffering need these bills to be passed into law, and they need other veterans and civilians to join them. Nearly four million veterans have served since 9/11 — 1 percent of the U.S. population fielding the brunt, and the harmful side effects, of military service. Our veterans need the other 99 percent of the population to empathize with their plight and advocate on their behalf. Grab a drum and start banging until others are listening. Help us help our veterans tell their stories and educate decision makers about the most important issues facing the military community.

And when you hear that drumbeat, don’t run away. Join in and help us win this fight.

Heashot_Sean-UllmanSean Ullman is chief operations and chief revenue officer at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a veterans service organization representing four hundred thousand veterans nationwide. 

« Previous post    Next post »

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

Subscribe to PhilanTopic

Contributors

Guest Contributors

  • Laura Cronin
  • Derrick Feldmann
  • Thaler Pekar
  • Kathryn Pyle
  • Nick Scott
  • Allison Shirk

Tweets from @PNDBLOG

Follow us »

Filter posts

Select
Select
Select