"Got Your Six" is an expression in the US Military that means, "I got your back." When this is said between friends even casually the expression says, not to worry, help is near.
Also, in military terms it refers to the 6 o'clock position as the back part of a military formation. For the military the phrase also stands for cooperation and loyalty.
Over a year ago the "Got Your 6" campaign was formed as a collective impact initiative to bridge the civilian-military divide. The campaign celebrated its one-year anniversary on May 10th, 2013. This reporter was able to contact the Got Your 6 Managing Director Chris Marvin.
He explained that over the next five years over one million men and women in military service will be re-entering civilian life. This is not a problem, it is actually an important opportunity for the American people to recognize.
Uniting the entertainment industry with top-tier nonprofit organizations that aim to serve veterans and their families, the initial goal of the campaign is to bridge the divide between civilians and military.
Courtesy of Beck Media and Marketing for Got Your 6 Campaign
Actress Minka Kelly took a moment to meet Got Your 6 campaign Managing Director Chris Marvin at a press conference event held on May 10, 2012 in Los Angeles.
Got Your 6 speaks to all Americans and strives to demonstrate a measurable impact through its "Six Pillars of Reintegration." The six are: Jobs, Education, Health, Housing, Family and Leadership.
The non-profit partners of Got Your 6 have enumerated real and measurable goals for each of these six pillars. With a strategy set in place, the collaborative effort of the non-profit partners provides a distinct call to action for the American public to participate in the campaign. Through acts of generosity and community service, these ideals allow individuals to share in the sacrifice and service of the US military and show appreciation for military veterans in a meaningful way.
A recent example of this is the fundraising effort done in collaboration with Macy's this summer.
Marvin also noted, "the establishment of Got Your 6 involved many people," he said. "The catalyst for the creation of the campaign was twofold," he said. "One, from multiple conversations and gatherings of the entertainment industry, we knew that Hollywood was primed to collaborate," said Marvin. "In addition, we were already working with some of the best veteran-focused nonprofits in the country each Veterans Day, and saw this chance to leverage their expertise on a more regular basis."
I asked him specifically, When you face obstacles, what is the one gut-level thing that you work to overcome? For example, with regards to services is it because there are not enough services? Or is it because the services offered are not comprehensive enough to meeting changing needs? What is it that really motivates and inspires you about Got Your 6, that makes the campaign unique?
"At Got Your 6, he said, we constantly face the challenge of explaining to the general population that veterans are not a population dependent on entitlements." "Many veterans go register for and receive the benefits and services that they deserve from the Department of Veterans Affairs." "But the last thing that most veterans want to be seen as is a charity case," he said. "The goal of Got Your 6 is to change the conversation in America so that veterans are perceived as leaders and civic assets who will help reinvigorate our communities." "The biggest barrier to successful veteran reintegration, he said, is the lack of strong expectations for veterans from the civilian community."
"This shift in perception is perpetuated by many organizations, said Marvin, the best of whom are part of Got Your 6." "The unique value of Got Your 6 is the ability to unify these efforts and reap the benefits of collaboration," he said.
Then, I asked, does Got Your 6 supplement what the Veterans Administration is already doing on behalf of veterans? Or, does this campaign do more than what the VA can presently provide?
Marvin replied, "The target audience for Got Your 6 is actually civilians." "The goal of the campaign is to bridge the civilian-military divide," he said. "By exposing civilians to examples of veterans as leaders, noted Marvin, we improve the perceptions held by these civilians and make it more likely that they will welcome home veterans as leaders and assets." "Our efforts don't necessarily supplement the VA, said Marvin, as much as they are helping our society get a positive return on investment for the millions of Americans that we have trained to be leaders, team builders, and problem solvers."
Marvin himself is a veteran who served in the conflict in the Middle East. After serving and leading in over 40 combat missions as a pilot and platoon leader, he was wounded. His Blackhawk helicopter crashed at the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It took more than 10 surgeries and lots of physical therapy to recover fully to where he is today.
So, I asked him outright, does having lived with a disability or time spent in physical therapy changed your perspective? And, has that been a motivating factor in striving to bring more services and outreach to Veterans?
"What you learn when you have a disability, said Marvin, is that you don't want people to pre-judge you or your abilities." "The same goes for all veterans." "Too much in today's culture, veterans are painted with one broad brush," he said. "It's a story that might include homelessness, unemployment, PTSD, etc." "The truth is that the majority of veterans deal with none of these issues," he said. "And many that do, deal with them do so with much success," he said. "Veterans are a diverse population, noted Marvin, that needs to be celebrated for their strengths and abilities, not pitied for their detriments." And much like the disabled population, at the end of the day, veterans are people just like you and me."
This got me thinking as I was eager to ask just a couple more questions.
When people seem indifferent to veterans or some say, "there is plenty of benefits for veterans and their families" what do you say? How do you respond to that?
He replied, I would tend to agree with that statement." "Between the VA and the thousands of nonprofits, there are myriad programs and services out there for veterans." "That shouldn't however, allow civilians to think that they don't have a role in veteran reintegration." "The successful reintegration of any veteran, he said, is the responsibility of both that veteran and the community to which he or she is returning."
It's crucial that communities across the country recognize the potential of veterans, said Marvin, and that they add value to the community." "If we don't start to hold high expectations of returning veterans now, our country will miss out on cultivating a potentially great generation of leaders."
And, lastly I asked, Is there one thing in particular that you want the people to know about Got Your 6 that has not been featured enough in the media so far?
"Veterans have always served as leaders in this country, said Marvin, and there are many great organizations working to perpetuate that sentiment." "Got Your 6 is successful because we harness the power of collective impact, he said, that is the public, private, and nonprofit sectors working together to have a significant impact on one social issue." "Not only does Got Your 6 hope to offer revelations about the civilian-military divide, but we also strive to be seen as a very socially innovative campaign structure," he said.
For those individuals and groups interested in making donations, "'Got Your 6' is a campaign of Be the Change, Inc.--a 501(c) (3) that serves as the fiscal sponsor for collaborative campaigns focusing on specific social issues," said Marvin. Explaining further he added, "Be the Change also runs ServiceNation and Opportunity Nation." "'Got Your 6' was created from the veteran and military family programs within ServiceNation, of which I had been leading since mid-2011." "Got Your 6 is now an independent campaign of Be the Change and fully autonomous from ServiceNation," Marvin said.
For more information about the 'Got Your 6' campaign, visit the web site.
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