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Veteran’s Stand Down

Caitlin is a Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC) Northwest AmeriCorps member in Wenatchee, WA, at The Northwest Justice Project. She also served last year in San Antonio, TX, with JVC.

Caitlin - Jumping

I grew up thinking of “service” as exactly what I am doing now, as a Jesuit Volunteer AmeriCorps member. For the majority of my privileged life, I was blinded to the fact that for many Americans, joining the Armed Forces is a way to make it out of poverty, or to pay for school, or to simply commit to something greater than themselves. It’s a calling for a lot of people, but it’s also a means to an end for many Americans, especially young men and women in our poorest and most marginalized communities. Many veterans find themselves homeless after their discharge, especially if it is anything other than honorable, with few opportunities for civilian life. Many endure psychological and/or family life struggles, and those without support or who are afraid of reaching out for support self-medicate and develop substance abuse issues.

This is the reality in our country; it is neither a criticism of the Armed Forces as a whole nor of those who so bravely have given a significant part of their lives to be of this type of service to our country. It is the real situation Veterans face after their time of service. The lack of civilian life support for veterans and the existence of barriers to self-sufficiency is a reality, but it is a reality that many doctors, social workers, families, community organizers, and attorneys work to “combat,” in another sense, every day.

The Northwest Justice Project, where I serve in Wenatchee, Washington, has a statewide Veterans Project that provides free civil legal assistance specifically to low income veterans. The program focuses on finding better ways to help veterans access the legal system and educates on anti-poverty legal issues that adversely and disproportionately affect veterans. I was given the opportunity to participate in a Veterans’ Stand Down in Wenatchee on September 27th. Stand Downs are events that provide services and connections to homeless and economically marginalized veterans. They are commemorative of the service the veterans have given to their country, regardless of the circumstances surrounding their discharge. Stand Downs create solidarity among veterans and promote awareness of veteran presence in communities in which they are held. In two days, over 2,000 veterans stopped by the National Guard Armory in Wenatchee to pick up food, warm clothing, and talk to representatives of the local social services organizations in the area. We spoke to veterans who had questions about legal problems, Veterans’ Administration, criminal records, access to healthcare, and about navigating the court system. There is a certain kind of liberation in serving those who serve us by answering questions that will help them understand their rights that are protected by being citizens of the United States of America.

Caitlin - Wenatchee
Caitlin (far right) and her Wenatchee house community

We all come into a year of JVC Northwest AmeriCorps service knowledgeably passionate about something (or everything), may it be a cause, a marginalized group of people, an experience of solidarity, environmentalism, etc. I challenge you to take the month of November, the month in which we commemorate those who give a different kind of service to our country, and find a way in which to serve them. Attend an event like a Veterans Stand Down, or a commemorative Veteran’s Day event, or simply invite a veteran over for dinner with your community to talk to him or her about their experience in the military. Maybe you are a veteran yourself, or have a close friend or relative who has served in the Armed Forces. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you, and challenge you to make yourself visible in your community you are now serving, so that more veterans may feel comfortable to share and less afraid to get help if it is needed.

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Upcoming Virtual Events

Get to Know JVC Northwest

Tuesday, November 30 | 6:00pm ET / 3:00pm PT

Join us to learn all the basics about a year of service in the Pacific Northwest, including where you can serve, what you might do, and how to apply. Our Recruiter, Zayna, will also share her experience as a JV in both Alaska and Montana. Finally, we’ll open it up for an informal Q+A.

Discerning Post-Grad Service Roundtable

Thursday, December 2 | 6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT

Led by Greg Carpinello, Executive Director of JVC Northwest, this roundtable will explore how to discern if a service-year program is right for you.

Prior to joining JVC Northwest in 2019, Greg worked at both Xavier University and Boston College where he helped accompany students through post-grad discernment processes.

Zayna Abusada

JVC Northwest Recruiter

Zayna Abusada (Ashland, MT ’17-18, Anchorage, AK ’18-19) was most recently a JV in south-central Alaska serving with immigrant and refugee English-Language learners as the Academy for Citizenship and Civics Support Specialist with the Alaska Literacy Program (ALP) in Anchorage. Zayna first served with Indigenous students on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations. Originally from Iowa City, Iowa, Zayna went on to earn her undergraduate degree in History and Theological Studies with a minor in Middle Eastern Studies at Saint Louis University.

Catch Zayna at an Event Near You!

11/2/202112pm – 1pmOregon StateVirtualInfo Session w/ College of Liberal Arts and Education
11/2/20217pm-9pm ESTBoston College/St. Anselm/Holy CrossVirtualPost Grad Service Fair
11/2/202112pm-2:30pmManhattan CollegeIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
11/4/20211:30pm – 4:30pmCatholic UniversityIn PersonLong-Term Service Fair
11/7/2021 IFTJIn PersonIFTJ
11/10/20218:30am-12pmSaint LouisIn PersonService Fair
11/15/20212pm-4pmVillanovaIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
11/16/20212pm-4pmUniversity of ScrantonIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair
11/17/20211pm-3pmSaint Joseph’s UniversityIn PersonPost Grad Service Fair