By Charlie Mink
This blog is cross-posted from Veterans for American Ideals.
I joined Vets for American Ideals (VFAI) in February 2016 because I believe our generation of veterans needs a platform to advocate causes other than our own. There are plenty of VSO’s fighting for our benefits—and we are indebted to them for their efforts—but VFAI represents a cause of a higher order. It offers an opportunity to continue a life-long oath to selfless service, to leverage our persuasive voices as U.S. military veterans in service of people far more vulnerable and needy than we.
Last Monday I joined the first VFAI leadership call. It lets veterans who are interested in being leaders connect, share ideas, and work together toward common goals. It is profoundly satisfying to connect with other veterans who share my commitment to patriotic service as civilians. Like many veterans, I struggled for a pride of purpose after leaving the military. I found it hard to recapture that intense pride I felt while in uniform. Working with VFAI has reminded me where that pride came from to begin with—self-sacrifice in the service of others.
Over the next few months, we’ll be working together to grow the community and raise veterans’ voices in support of refugee protection. We’ll be learning, writing, advocating, sharing our experiences, and organizing powerful local events around World Refugee Day on June 20th. Our message is simple: Protecting refugees is part and parcel of the ideals that we as veterans fought to uphold, and doing so makes America stronger and more secure.
The enemies we fought against as soldiers want us to let our fear carry the day. They want us to turn away refugees because of their religion and place of origin. Rejecting refugees for these reasons befits their malign depiction of the United States and it sells their own recruitment pitch. When we encourage policymakers to accept these beleaguered people into our great country, we frustrate the enemies’ cause, we turn their sordid narrative on its head, and we do so by keeping resolutely to our ideals as Americans generally and veterans in particular.
I hope you’ll join us. If you’re interested in being more involved and would like to learn more, fill out this quick form and someone will be in touch.
Charlie Mink is a former U.S. Army Interrogator and Arabic linguist who served in Iraq from 2007 to 2008. He currently resides in Washington, D.C.