Stand-To Vet Leaders Bound Together by Common Purpose

Leaders in new Bush Institute are working to broaden their skillsets and influence to better serve veterans.

“By supporting and enabling our nation’s warriors in their new missions as civilians, we unleash the potential of a generation of resourceful, determined, and experienced leaders – for the good of our vets, and our country.” – President George W. Bush

At the Bush Institute we are focused on fostering successful transitions for our nation’s veterans, so that we can leverage “a generation of resourceful, determined, and experienced leaders,” as President Bush has said, who will lead our businesses, communities and nation for the decades to come. We do this in a variety of ways. We conduct research, advocate policy, run programs, and convene cross-sector leaders to drive systemic change to foster positive outcomes for veterans.

Last summer, we convened a national veterans conference in Washington D.C. called Stand-To, which brought together senior government officials with leaders from business, higher education, philanthropy and nonprofits to address key priorities and to lay out a framework for a way forward to improve outcomes for veterans and their families in three critical areas: health and wellbeing, employment, and education. 

We know that in order to truly make a difference, it will require synchronizing efforts across sectors and within issue areas. So as part of our commitment to improve veteran transitions, we recently launched the Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, just the latest program in the Bush Institute’s leadership development work. Stand-To is aimed at individuals who are serving our nation’s veterans and who are motivated to broaden their skillsets and influence. Our goal is to create a forum for strategic conversations with thought-leaders trying to improve and strengthen the lives of military veterans and their families.

Throughout the six-month program, participants are hearing from a variety of nationally known and distinguished professionals and educators in post-9/11 veteran transition issues and leadership development. Just this week, the class is in Seattle, looking at employment and strategic partnerships in the veteran space, visiting sites like Starbucks’ headquarters and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and meeting with key experts like Secretary Bob Gates.

Part of what makes this program truly unique however, is the individuals who make up the class and the unique backgrounds and skillsets they bring to the table. This first class includes cross-sector leaders like Saul Martinez, Richard Casper, and Mike Richardson who work to improve health and wellbeing, whether through clinical care, outdoor recreation and peer connection, or the arts.

Some like Jason Pak, Chuck Sevola, Tiffany Daugherty, and David Lee are leading significant corporate hiring efforts for companies like Boeing, Prudential, First Data, and CVS. Brian Thompson, Jennifer Goetz, and Christine Schwartz are working to advance veteran education outcomes at the Department of Education, on university campuses, and in non-profit organizations.

Others like Anne Meree Craig, John Boerstler, and Amy Taft are working to deliver comprehensive services at the local level. Ryan Manion runs the national nonprofit, the Travis Manion Foundation, Jonathan Horowitch is the President and CEO of Easter Seals MD-DC-VA, and Kevin Walton is a systems engineer at Boeing working to advance women veteran outcomes in his free time.

Regardless of sector or role, all 33 members of our inaugural class are bound together by a common purpose and vision – to advance veterans and their families. And based on what I’ve seen in just the first three sessions I’ve spent with the inaugural class, the scholars in the Stand-To program are destined to inspire many and help make a difference.