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In September, the 2019 Class of the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program visited Washington, D.C. to focus on a variety of veteran transition issues.

The Importance of Finishing as a Team

September 20, 2019 by Major Amy Bernard, USMC (Ret.)
The George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Scholars have dedicated their lives to ensuring that veterans are supported and have a successful transition from military to civilian life.

During my time in the military, we spent many hours and early mornings participating in unit formation runs. The runs were held not only for conditioning, but also to build camaraderie. Throughout the run the calling of cadence was common and one in particular stands out, “We started, together now, we’re gonna finish, together now.” 

Before completing our run, we would proudly huff this cadence and pick-up all service members who may have fallen back, encouraging them to finish with the team. This same mentality applies to the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program Scholars who have dedicated their lives to ensuring that all military members who started together, finish together by providing support for a smooth transition from military to civilian life.

The 43 Scholars are an amazing group of professionals who care deeply about the challenges found within the veteran transition environment. They are passionate, educated, connected, and making a very real difference in the lives of our warriors. 

They are a diverse and dynamic group of active duty, Reserves, veterans, caregivers, veteran spouses, and non-military members with a common vision of supporting warriors through a healthy and successful transition. The program is steeped in leadership, veteran health and well-being, and veteran economic opportunity training, offering the unique opportunity for peer networking that will ultimately change lives. 

Some scholars are still serving their country on active duty or in the Reserves. These are individuals who have the most direct voice within the military. They will be a crucial part of the cultural change that will create an environment for an increased rate of successful future transitions across the armed services.  

There are scholars who recently transitioned and are still exploring who they are outside the military and how to best make a difference in their new industry or role. They are finding renewed inspiration through the speakers as well as new purpose and meaning through the encouragement of their peers.

The leadership program has provided some of the scholars who transitioned several years ago and have found success after the military a new or different perspective on veteran transition. They are learning about the current challenges transitioning service members face and new ways to set today’s veterans up for a successful future.

The spouses, caregivers, and non-military members in the program are bringing their own, unique experiences to the discussion. They are providing a voice for those who may have not served in the military or have served in a different capacity. 

Each scholar’s story is as diverse as each one of them. Each scholar is leaving the leadership program as someone different. The experience has changed them to be better educated, more informed, highly impactful, humbled, motivated, and spiritually renewed in their drive to be stronger leaders within the veteran community.

These scholars are important to the future of veterans. I am honored to share in their victories and their continued personal success. What these scholars have started together, they will ensure is finished together.


Author

Major Amy Bernard, USMC (Ret.)
Major Amy Bernard, USMC (Ret.)

Major Amy Bernard serves as the Senior Program Manager for Veteran Economic Opportunity as part of the Military Service Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute.  She manages strategic efforts to promote the partnerships, collaboration, and alignment among organizations that focus on meaningful employment, educational and career pathways that are crucial to the economic success of post-9/11 Veterans.

Major Bernard retired from the United States Marine Corps where she served as a Logistics Officer domestically and globally in a myriad of Command and Staff positions.  She last served as the Executive Officer of a Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California.  She deployed in 2005 and 2007 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and most recently in 2017 in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.  She was selected to represent the United States Marine Corps as the first female Officer to attend Command & Staff College in New Zealand, earning a Master of Arts degree in International Security from Massey University.

Amy Bernard is originally from Irving, Texas and completed her undergraduate degree at Texas A&M University.  In 2019, she completed a second Master of Arts degree from Concordia University. 

Full Bio

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