Not often enough, do we think about the stories of the people who have served our country? We look at them, and we think they are heroic, and we thank them for their service, but do we ask them about their experiences, what it felt like to serve, or what it now feels like to be living as a civilian? BE! @ Community Initiatives is committed to supporting the needs of veterans in the ways in which they need. We will do this by asking them to share their stories and help to lead our work from their voices.
"Don't just thank me for my service, ask me about my service."
Meosha Thomas (Retired - U.S. Navy - 10 yrs of service)
The Veterans Creed
I am an American Veteran
I proudly served my country
I live the values I learned in the military
I continue to serve my community, my country and my fellow veterans
I maintain my physical and mental discipline
I continue to lead and improve
I make a difference
I honor and remember my fallen comrades
This creed is supported by AMVETS, Disabled American Veterans, HillVets, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Military Order of the Purple Heart, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Reserve Officers Association, Student Veterans of America, Team Rubicon Global, Veterans of Foreign Wars and Wounded Warrior Project.
SAVING ANOTHER FEMALE ENLISTEE
S.A.F.E. is a non-profit charitable and patriotic organization created to provide adequate and affordable housing, both permanent and transitional shelter.
Together, we are committed to working with organizations and groups to increase the awareness and challenges of women veterans.
Leave No Veteran Behind
Leave No Veteran Behind is a national 501(c)3 non-profit organization that invests in veterans to build better communities through employment training, transitional jobs, and our veteran educational debt relief scholarship.
Together, we are committed to working to provide access to jobs, training, and community service opportunities.
FLASH TALK LIVE
"In the face of impossible odds, people who love this country
can change it." – Barack Obama
Virtual & In-Person Panels
We are committed to creating meaningful and informative dialogues and discussions with veterans, as well as young adults and adults who have an interest in serving in or working alongside the military. During these panels, we will discuss topics that will lead to the introduction of new workshops, courses, and resources to support these individuals and their supporters in their journey.
We work with our partners to develop and offer workshops that help all of us dive deeper and to engage in intensive discussion and activity that directly and indirectly relates to working through trauma and racism. Our goal is to help us all become more equipped to support each other, and to both identify and break down the systemic racism that exists within our own lives and those of others who also surround us. This is important because through this work, many of us will find that there are little to no places in which systemic racism hasn't impacted us all negatively. Therefore, it is necessary to do the individual work to break down, heal, and redefine the systems that govern and divide us.
Our Veterans-related courses are offered and developed in partnership with a diverse group of collaborators, veterans, partners, educators, learning institutions, and leaders who are devoted to research, learning, and policy development related to exploring the diverse needs of veterans.
We know that transitioning into civilian life can sometimes be difficult, and that is why we're committed to providing opportunities for veterans to connect and their civilian allies. We believe that providing opportunities for veterans to connect, share their stories while also growing as individuals is important.
Our goal is to help individuals learn to take a deeper look into their experiences to help them better deal with their mental health and transitional challenges. It's also an opportunity for veterans to share their concerns, ask questions, share resources, and meet others who might be facing similar challenges or experiences.
Mental Health In Focus
Providing Access To The Support That Veterans Need
Addressing mental health is an important mission within BE! @ Community Initiatives. We understand veterans oftentimes have had unique experiences throughout their time of service, and therefore need support. BE! @ CI is committed to being a resource partner to organizations whose services and missions align with helping veterans to deal with PTSD, depression, traumatic brain injuries, and other mental health challenges.
Our goal is to help ensure that veterans and their families have access to the support and resources that they need.
Our Veterans Matter
Women Veterans: Life After The Military
Meosha Thomas, a mother of two, teacher, and a retired Navy veteran, was medically discharged after ten (10) years of service. She founded One Savvy Veteran, a nonprofit dedicated to helping female veterans acclimate to civilian life, navigate social and community services, and connect with “battle buddies”. She channeled all of her creative energies and opened Local Color Art Studio in Chicago that offers a variety of different art classes to adults and children. She teaches therapeutic art through the lens of social justice, social emotional and science. She teaches students to view art and “technique” through a different perspective so students can learn to tell and honor all parts of their story because broken crayons still color. To self actualize, to be your authentic self. Local Color is an art term that means "your true color WITHOUT outside influence"...
Ujo served 13 years in the military, her military experience includes several leadership positions, 2 deployments, Army Master Fitness Trainer, and serving as a Drill Sergeant. She has a Master of Science in Human Performance, a
Bachelor of Professional Studies in Applied Health Sciences, and a certification in Health and Wellness Coaching, and
She recently started a podcast titled Fit Body Fit Spirit and her coaching business focuses on aligning the mind, body, and spirit through health, habit, change, spiritual growth, and personal transformation. Some of her experience and services include wellness workshops, wellness program administration, consulting, small group coaching, and energy healing circles.
Senior Chief Katrina D. Williams is a native of Detroit, Michigan. She enlisted in the United States Navy in January 1997. Her duty assignments included COMPATWINGONE Kami Seya, Japan, U.S. Central Command Tampa, Florida, USS Bulkeley Norfolk, VA, Naval Security Group Activity Norfolk, VA, Naval Security Group Detachment/Naval Information Operations Detachment Potomac Washington, D.C. where she was force converted to Information Systems Technician and promoted to First Class Petty Officer June 2006, USS George Washington Norfolk, VA, Afloat Training Group Norfolk, VA, Coastal Riverine Squadron 2 Portsmouth, VA where she was selected as Chief Petty Officer in July 2012, Afloat Training Group Mayport, FL she was selected as Senior Chief Petty Officer, and Navy Marine Corps Spectrum Office Guam. She graduated from the Navy Senior Enlisted Academy, Class 222, in 2019 with Honors. Senior Chief Williams is currently pursuing her Master of Science: Human Services Administration.
Petty Officer (EN3) Catrina Howard actively served in the United States Navy from 1989 to 1993 prior to her civilian occupations. She has completed her B.B.A. in Project Management and her M.P.A in Non-Profit Organizational Management.
She is the Founder and President/CEO of Saving Another Female Enlistee NFP (S.A.F.E.). Ms. Howard created the organization to address the concerns and problems of women veterans reintegrating back into civilian life; particularly those who experienced Military Sexual Trauma (MST) while serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Ms. Howard’s blended progressive career within diverse atmospheres include Chicago Public Schools (CPS), University of Chicago Medicine, The Women’s Treatment Center, and others. Her career path provided deep understanding of why an individual or community must transcend human services to include women veterans.
Life After The Military
As a part of our new Veterans In Focus programming, BE! @ CI is kicking off a new partnership with S.A.F.E (Saving Another Female Enlistee), a nonprofit committed to working with organizations and groups to increase the awareness and challenges of women veterans. Together, our organizations will work to further the support, connection to resources, and access to safe spaces for women veterans.
Moderated by Rocio Garcia and Tamara Allen, Co-Founders & Board Members of BE! @ CI along with military veterans Cat Howard (U.S. Navy Veteran), Meosha Thomas (U.S. Navy), Ujo Wadjet (U.S. Army Veteran), and Katrina Williams (U.S. Navy Veteran).
The conversation was held on
Wednesday, March 24th.