Coming Together — So That Our Veterans Don’t Fall Apart — the Veteran Mission Possible Campaign Veterans Day Update

Pictured: Col (ret) US Army Mikel Burroughs, Jerry Ashton, Navy vet along with his RIP Medical Debt co-founder Craig Antico — NYC Veterans Day Parade 2017

Pictured: Col (ret) US Army Mikel Burroughs, Jerry Ashton, Navy vet along with his RIP Medical Debt co-founder Craig Antico — NYC Veterans Day Parade 2017

Most of us have seen the distressing headlines about our veterans: their rate of suicide, homelessness, drug abuse, incarceration rate, debt and more. Some have also read about the VA attempts via Mission Daybreak to specifically reduce vet suicide — even throwing $20 million dollars in prizes into the mix for organizations that they feel have innovative ways in which to specifically reduce vet suicides.

Several of VMP’s members competed — one successfully: Marine Veteran Rick Johnson CEO of Voi Health and Voi Technology.

But the overall experience was disappointing.

Innovation seemed to be less important than a solution’s ability to fit within the existing VA bureaucratic process. Contestants were put in silo’s, with no real attempt to create a community or develop cross-pollination. Previous contracts won through the VA moved a contestant’s proposal to the top of the judging stack. To make things worse, only 40 participants out of 1,371 entries “qualified” to share in the pot. Only 40???

Thus, the emergence of VMP and its energetic cadre of risk-takers and out-of-the-box thinkers and their supporters who were among the 1,340 who didn’t win a spot. We decided to create a community out of this disparate group. And, to locate and invite others also with good solutions but who were not aware of Mission Daybreak to join with us in a campaign that runs from 11/1/22 through 1/31/23. Veteran Mission Possible.

We intend to equal or better in featuring our members’ impactful solutions. But, how?

The importance of media

Equal to the need to ferret out and refine the thought leaders and their solutions is to see that their inventions and approaches are brought to public attention and especially to the ultimate recipients — the veteran in need and their advocates.

If they don’t know about you, they can’t do anything about you. To ensure that needed awareness, VMP is constructing a web of media specialists and journalists within and outside our community to tend to this. Nothing beats a press kit containing recent newsworthy items.

In the works:

Military Veterans in Journalism (MVJ) is working with VMP to develop an onsite and online “media pool” of experienced professionals whose efforts will be harnessed to write those stories and do those interviews. Today, Veteran’s Day 2022, I will be attending their discussion on military, veterans news coverage at the National Press Club — featuring an appearance by former Navy veteran Bob Woodward.

Cary Harrison, VMP Director of Broadcasting and Streaming Media, is using his sway as a highly regarded radio personality to develop in tandem with famed KPFK 90.7fm in Los Angeles a weekly one-hour program devoted to veterans issues and their spokespeople for distribution through Cary’s affiliate stations across the U.S. “The emphasis will be on solutions, not just the problems,” as Cary describes it.

Cary and KPFK on Veteran’s Day last year featured a one-hour fundraiser for the RIP Medical Debt charity to bring attention to veteran medical debt. Enough funds were raised to abolish almost $500,000 in such debt. Imagine this promoted nationally — with veteran debt as the sole focus!

Host of “Ask a Doctor” on VoiceAmerica Radio Virgie Bright Ellington, author of Crush Medical Debt and an VMP benefactor interviews me about our mutually (un)favorite subjects of medical debt and veteran suicide just in time for Veteran’s Day. Visit this site and skip over the first part to start this latest segment at 32:27. You will not be put to sleep.

In fact, the overall approach of VMP and its allies and supporters is to Wake America Up!

In the most gentle but urgent ways possible to the wrongs that need to be righted and the actions that need to be taken. More details for those who might want to be part of this campaign can be found here:

Don’t dawdle, a veteran needs your help. More than one veteran, to be exact. Thousands of them.

Originally published on Medium.