Community Interest Statement
As you may recall from “Group Mobilization & My Identity,” the military-veteran community is one I hold close on a personal level. Having spent five-years active-duty service subsequent to my 2013 high school graduation, you could say that this near twenty-five percent of my life allows me the opportunity, and privilege, to directly relate to and understand other veterans within the community, connecting with their surfacing or re-surfacing hardships, to some degree, as a result of our shared time in service. Spending day-after-day and week-after-week, both in the continental United States (CONUS) and outside (OCONUS), with service-members, creates a bond through a constructed identity. This shared experience, in-field training, away from loved ones, on deployment, or on overseas long-term duty, among others, cultivates a shared identity; military-veteran.
As I came closer to receiving, and surpassed, an honorable discharge from my time in service, I have certainly struggled to adapt to the adult civilian world. Thankfully, I’m doing okay and holding myself afloat despite my geographic separation from family, being entirely independent, and the COVID-19 economic slap. [Fingers crossed.] However, that understanding has opened my eyes to the even deeper concerns and issues other veterans face. As examples, being homeless for ten-years, like a recipient of Timothy Rogers services from “Public Service Pathway: Military Service,” or powering through and being forced to adapt to everyday life with an amputated limb from a combat deployment, like Robert Bruce or Jordan Maynard, Arizona veteran recipients of HFOT services. Having found Brothers in Arms of Arizona and feeling a connection based on a shared identity and shared desire for results among veteran issues, grants me the luxury to connect with such a minority community, the less than one percent.
My constructed and shared military-veteran identity allows me a relate-able trait that few possess. An already existing military service public service pathway. This is a strength that could certainly prove valuable and applicable in a private sector/social entrepreneurship public service pathway. Pursuing my civic action plan via a small local organization, like BIA, allows for greater opportunity to connect with those the organization services on a more personable and direct level. Unlike a major organization, such as the VA, which reportedly slips through the cracks occasionally while trying to manage the mass amounts of veteran information and requests. This can be extremely positive as its a basic human desire to feel important and listened to. Having experienced a period of mental hardship from my own military-to-civilian life transition, this identity can be employed to make myself mentally available and empathetic toward veterans in need.
After putting a bit further consideration into my public service pathway toward resolving military-veteran issues, I’ve identified another applicable option; higher education. First and foremost, I’m currently finishing my third semester in the Arizona State University (ASU) Filmmaking Practices, BA four-year program; nearly halfway done. This alone is an existing effort in becoming increasingly educated and informed so that I can make an educated and effective impact in the world. What more than to apply it to a community with such a strong shared identity. This education in filmmaking and storytelling, as well as the many other encompassing identity-skillsets, like being a content creator, one that can be utilized to positively support the operations of BIA.
As stated by Lieutenant (Lt.) Andrea Burcham in A New Way to Help, there are two reasons BIA was founded: first, “to help homeless veterans get back on their feet;” and second, “to show the world via social media the effort and progress our clients put forth, changing the public perception of the homeless.” The only way to “show via social media” is to know how to and have the means to create engaging content to spread awareness. Burchman’s social media statement in this blog is where my higher education of filmmaking, freelance entrepreneurship skills, military experience, and knowledge from National Service and Democracy can effectively and rapidly contribute to my effectiveness with regards to the organization's mission.
My Civic Action Plan
In an effort to actively participate in BIA of Arizona, I’ve completed this S.M.A.R.T. Goal Matrix associated with my four-step, 12-week civic action plan. As I meet with and work alongside Lt. Burcham and this organization, I will continue to develop my tasks and goals within it. You too can create one for yourself here!