It’s been 24 years since Forrest Gump met Lt. Dan and got the same sage advice that so many fresh troops before and after have received from on high: “Change your socks.” In the years that followed his iconic role, Gary Sinise has become a well-known figure in the military and veteran communities, thanks to his advocacy on behalf of service members and their families.
Sen. Al Franken — the wry former Saturday Night Live comic who’s become a progressive darling as a Democratic senator from Minnesota — was publicly accused Nov. 16 of making unwanted sexual advances on a fellow performer while the two were on a winter 2006 USO tour “in the middle of a war zone” sponsored by the sergeant major of the Army.
When you work in the veterans community, you get used to uncertainty. You don't know how many veterans commit suicide every day. You don't know which veterans and military family programs are the most effective. And you are never sure if the United States really needs 40,000-plus veterans nonprofits. The lack of clear, consistent data is a recurring theme.
AP Photo/The San Angelo Standard-Times, Andrew Mitchell
Veteran service organizations and military-related, non-profit organizations raise hundreds of millions of dollars every year, totaling billions since the Sept. 11 attacks. These groups --- over 45,000 in the United States --- provide many services, some valuable and some questionable. However, to remain relevant and sustainable in the long term, these support groups will have to reorganize themselves around community service at the local level.