Recently, I had the honor of participating in the Clinton Global Initiative University’s 2012 conference held at George Washington University. As it was the end of March during the Cherry Blossom festival, the atmosphere helped set the tone for change and forward thinking.
It was great to be around so many young solution makers and innovative thinkers. The panel on which I presented was called “Employment for Empowerment,” which took place just before the closing plenary session on Saturday March 31st, where President Bill Clinton was interviewed live by Daily Show Host John Stewart.
I shared my panel with Veronika Scott, who started a business called the Empowerment Plan. Her business employs homeless single mothers to create winter jackets that transform into sleeping bags. Also on the panel was Khari Mosley, who works with Green Economy Initiative in Pittsburgh. That organization is focused on helping inner city youth develop job skills. Rishi Jaitly of the Knight Foundation moderated.
I focused my discussion around why veterans are a unique demographic that experiences higher rates of unemployment and homelessness, how young innovators can build veteran programs that overcome employment barriers, and how the post-9/11 veterans will impact our future economy. The audience was interested to hear that every homeless person in the U.S. costs tax payers $40,000 per year in services, and that the cost of caring for our modern veterans will cost our country over $589 billion dollars in VA, SSA, and medical payments.
The students there were encouraged by the fact that the first World War II GI Bill helped create 14 Nobel Prize winners, three Supreme Court justices, three presidents, a dozen senators, and two dozen Pulitzer Prize winners. This news excited the students who are now inspired to create a second greatest generation.
While at CGIU I also attended sessions on the environment and poverty, as well as an open plenary discussion where nonprofit leaders and successful entrepreneurs talked about challenges related to starting Twitter and the Zip Car.
Conference goers left the weekend with great advice on maintaining their personal brand through owning up to their mistakes and learning from their experiences; finding a niche market for themselves; and building upon incomplete ideas and complications that often prevent projects from going to scale. They also gained a great amount of motivation from guest speakers like President Clinton, volunteer projects from the USO and Take Action contest winners like the Bamboo Bicycles For All.
It was such an honor to present at this event, and Veterans Green Jobs looks forward to attending and participating in future Clinton Global Initiatives and commitments.
OIF Veteran 1st Infantry Division
Director of Veteran Transition
Veterans Green Jobs