It is time to introduce you to the “secret” project on which I’ve been working so hard the last two months. Actually, it has been in work since this summer, when I was approached by some people in New York about helping get a project related to veteran employment off the ground. There was a lot of discussion, and more discussion, and finally I came to New York to see if it was viable.
It was. In fact, things moved very quickly with the creation of an Executive Leadership Committee to assist with evaluation and to help make the determination if this was something that should be done. The amount of support for the project has been simply amazing. Veteran employment is a critical issue because veteran unemployment, particularly with younger troops/veterans, is at truly unacceptable levels. This is only going to get worse with the draw down.
What is Mission: VALOR? It is a new charity/VSO that is focused on the practical things needed to help veterans get not just jobs, but successful and rewarding careers in the culinary and hospitality industries. It will do this through mentors, practicums, and internships.
Why the capitalization? VALOR is an acronym. It stands for Veterans Achieving Culinary and Hospitality Careers. It does? Yes, as that really should be written as Veterans Achieving cuLinary and hOspitality caReers.
Just as creating the acronym means breaking the grade school “rule” of just using the first letter of a word, solving the crisis that is veteran unemployment means stepping outside the box that is tradition. It is not so much that the system is broken; rather, it is that the system requires augmentation and expansion to meet the challenge.
Operations will be built on stepping outside the box and on the dictum “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying.” If we are not thinking outside the box, making use of all the potential resources and finding ways to get all the other indigenous forces in the area – VSO and non-VSO – to partner or collaborate with us, we will fail. Failure is not an option, but success will take a lot of hard work.
There is a lot of support for that work. There are already informal partnerships in place with several charities/VSOs, and formal partnership requests have been submitted to three. There is also a solid Executive Leadership Committee, that will form the core of the National Advisory Board. They are:
• Pat Gualtieri, Executive Director, United War Veterans Council
• Marleen Levi, Communications Director, United War Veterans Council
• Carl Churchill, CEO, Lock-N-Load Java
• Chris Page, CEO, Army Week Association
• Robin Wallace, Social, Video and Digital Content Strategy,
Hearst Digital Media
• Bill Biggar, Founder, SudokuPDQ LLC
• Alexander Pournelle, Vice President, Business Development,
In addition, we have business partners in Lock-N-Load Java, Baen Books, and B.N. Shape Clothing. We have support in the culinary and hospitality industry in NYC. In fact, the basic program that is our core was developed by an Army veteran who is now working in the culinary/hospitality industry.
We are working on securing donated office space, and filing all the required state and federal paperwork. We are working to obtain our seed funding, and are already working to implement portions of our Phase II operations plan.
Things are moving, and I expect to be announcing more news soon. Until then, here’s what is needed:
• $250 for another trip to Albany on Monday
• $250 to cover travel and meetings within NYC
• $150 for coffee and supplies
• Gift cards to Wal-Mart, Staples, Fairway Markets
This last Monday, I was honored to be asked to attend a series of meetings with Senators, Assemblymen, and staffers of the New York Legislature. These meetings were in support of Army Week, and they were kind enough to include Mission: VALOR and provide introductions. Next Monday, there is a vote on a major veteran employment bill, and Mission: VALOR has been asked to be present. This will also allow us to follow-up on the meetings with, and interest by, some key members of the legislature. Their support can be crucial to expanding our business partnerships and donor support.
There is tremendous support in New York for our troops and veterans. Funds are needed to attend meetings with groups and individuals who share our passion and can provide further partnerships, donations of funds and services, and other support. I do walk to most meetings, but I do have to take subway, bus, and even buy some coffee or other libations at some of them. To be honest, I need to do more of that and to do so your help is needed.
It also helps if I have coffee and food at the lair. I need to contribute to the upkeep of the lair. Anything helps with that.
As for the gift certificates, Mission: VALOR needs printing, office supplies, and other supplies for operations. This ranges from ink and paper to getting some needed equipment. Rather than cash, I’m perfectly happy with gift certificates that can be used.
We are not yet a charity. Are we filing for that and hope to be approved quickly? Yes. Mission: VALOR is in the process of incorporating and things look good. However, the ways of paperwork and approval are, er, interesting. Even with pro bono legal and other help, paperwork is paperwork and moves at its own pace. There are no guarantees and we do have to plan for interesting times (and processes). So, caveat emptor since there is a LOT outside our direct control.
That said, Mission: VALOR has a great deal of official and unofficial support. There is a good team in place and that team is growing. I think there is a very real chance of not just meeting our plan goals for this year, but doing an order of magnitude more — with the right help and support. Your support.
You can donate by credit or debit card via PayPal and GoFundMe at the tip jar in the upper right column here. Keep a record and talk with your accountant. If and when we are approved as a charity, that donation may be considered a charitable donation. If you have to donate to an existing charity, let me know as there may be an option there via one of our partners.
There is a lot more to tell you, but this lis long enough as it is and the rest will be shared in the coming days. No, I am not giving up embeds, writing books, and the other things I do. However, this project is my focus as I have to do all I can to help my Brothers and Sisters. There is a bad situation that is only going to get worse, and Mission: VALOR is a project not just for New York, but the nation and potentially beyond. We will start here, test and refine here, and then our plans call for expanding.
With your support and assistance, direct and indirect, Mission: VALOR and its partners can and will make a difference. We will meet the challenge and help our troops and veterans.