One Path To Meaning After The Military: Find A New Way To Serve

The Long March

Here’s the seventh entry in our contest about how to find meaningful work after leaving the military.


Scott Cooper, director of national security outreach for Human Rights First, writes:I spent 20 years in the Marine Corps, retiring in 2013. I failed miserably – hoping to avoid working for a defense contractor, but instead to find meaningful work.

It took me a year and a half, eventually making my way to Human Rights First, where I get to work at the intersection of national security and human rights. It’s an interesting and fulfilling place to be – and I describe my own role as being a bit of ‘connective tissue’ between two communities that share many of the same values, but which rarely interact.

Much of the work of Human Rights First is in the area of refugees. There’s a large cohort of lawyers with whom I work (we have offices in DC, NY, Houston, and Los Angeles), who provide pro bono representation to refugees and asylum seekers.

And from this work, we started Veterans for American Ideals.  We’re a movement that is grass-roots, community-based group of veterans aiming to leverage military veteran voices to bridge divides and regain that shared sense of national community. We've grown to nearly 5,000 military veterans around the country.

I’m convinced that within this increasingly divisive political climate, veterans can be an important civilizing, unifying force. Our work is to amplify veterans’ experiences, leadership abilities, and credibility to combat the erosion of our democratic norms and to challenge the rise of xenophobic, fear-based rhetoric and policies that run counter to our ideals. We do this through nonpartisan advocacy, sharing our stories, engaging in community service and demonstrating the meaning and importance of active citizenship.

I’m truly lucky to get to work in this space. Because after all, your service shouldn’t stop when you take off the uniform.”

U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Alejandro Pena

NAVAL BASE SAN DIEGO — An enlisted Navy SEAL sniper testified on Wednesday that Chief Eddie Gallagher told his platoon prior to their deployment that if they ever captured a wounded fighter, their medics knew "what to do to nurse them to death."

In early morning testimony, former Special Operator 1st Class Dylan Dille told a packed courtroom that he had heard the phrase during unit training before the men of SEAL Team 7 Alpha Platoon deployed to Mosul, Iraq in 2017.

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(U.S. Army photo)

A Navy SEAL sentenced to one year in prison for the death of Army Special Forces Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar is under investigation for allegedly flirting with Melgar's widow while using a false name and trying to persuade her that he and another SEAL accused of killing her husband were "really good guys," according to the Washington Post.

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(U.S. Army/Capt. Jason Welch)

Soldiers with the 3rd Cavalry Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas, returned from a deployment to Iraq, Syria, and Kuwait, in February 60 combat badges richer.

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Photo: Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Porch/U.S. Army

Army Staff Sgt. Albert Leon Mampre, who served during World War II with the famed Easy Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division depicted in the HBO series 'Band of Brothers,' was laid to rest on June 15th, the Army announced

Mampre, who died on May 31 at 97 years old, was the last living medic from Easy Company, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. A number of soldiers assigned to his unit provided an honor guard for his funeral service.

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In his seven months as legislative assistant to the commandant of the Marine Corps, Brig. Gen. Norman Cooling proved to be an abusive, bullying boss, who openly disparaged women, ruled through intimidation, and attempted to spread a rumor about a female officer after the Senate complained about him to the defense secretary, according to a Defense Department's Inspector General's Office investigation.

"The adjectives a majority of witnesses used to describe his leadership were abusive, bullying, toxic, abrasive, and aggressive,"a DoD IG report on the investigation into Cooling's conduct found. "Some subordinates considered him an 'equal opportunity offender,' disparaging men and women. BGen Cooling denied making some of the comments attributed to him, but more than one witness told us they heard him make each of the comments described in this section of our report."

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