This past Tuesday marked the beginning of San Francisco’s Fleet Week, meaning that there will be an influx of men and women in uniform to the City by the Bay. For a city whose bases have long been closed, this is a rare sight. Unless we personally know someone who is serving or has served in the military, we don’t frequently have the chance to interact with service members – to talk to them and to thank them. Often viewed as a time for fun, Fleet Week also give us a great opportunity to raise awareness, increase exposure to military members, and most important, honor those who are fighting for us.
This week is also a great opportunity to recognize veterans and the sacrifices they have made for our country. There are people who have risked their lives to defend our country and yet many veterans come home to no job and a lack or resources for dealing with reintegration. In fact, as we mentioned in our previous post, unemployment of Gulf War era II veterans between ages the ages of 18 and 24 (this includes those that have fought in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars) is around 21%, more than three times the general unemployment rate. Here at T4A.org, these are issues that are extremely important to us. Exploring how to make the veteran transition smoother is something that has come up in many of our online and in-person TechTables. Our Convening Board continues to ask “What can we, and the tech community as a whole, do to help?”
Because of the passion of our members and the eagerness of many public officials (both military and civilian) to do more, we’ve decided to use our convening powers to help facilitate this change. Our two TechTables with General Wesley Clark next week will mark the launch of our VetTables. This new focus is described best by our mission: To identify, build and convene a network of executives who are veterans or are passionate about veterans issues together with current and former military officials and other thought leaders in the space. We will convene VetTables in both Seattle and San Francisco. We also plan to make veterans issues the focus of our third T4A Goes to Washington trip in November. We believe great strength will come from connecting this group and know that new partnerships will be ignited.
While this is the first time we will specifically earmark tables for veterans issues, we have been successful in convening similar tables in the past. We have sat down with General Stanley McChrystal to discuss his work at the Franklin Project and Rosye Cloud, from the Office of Economic Opportunity at the Department of Veterans Affairs to explore alternative learning practices (ALPs) and credentialing veterans for the tech industry. We will not abandon our standard open-topic TechTables, but we do want to refocus some of them on veterans issues. We have a unique platform to really make a difference here and we recognize it as our responsibility to contribute. We see this as our way to serve.
Featured image via Jeff Chiu, Associate Press, http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Fleet-Week-to-open-in-S-F-with-a-roar-5810290.php