Each month, Capitol Post interviews a veteran-focused nonprofit. This month, we spoke with Got Your Six, a nonprofit that unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners.
Non-Profit Name: Got Your 6
Year Founded: 2012
Executive Director Name: Bill Rausch
Key Members: Julia Tivald, Matt Mabe, Janeen Wynn, and Kate Hoit
HQ: Washington, DC
Number of Full-Time Employees: 5
Brief Organization Description: Got Your 6 is a campaign that unites nonprofit, Hollywood, and government partners. Got Your 6 believes that veterans are leaders, team builders, and problem solvers who have the unique potential to strengthen communities across the country. We believe shifting the narrative and perceptions of veterans will empower all veterans to help lead a resurgence of community across America.
What makes your organization unique? Our approach to the veteran empowerment movement is different from our counterparts. We facilitate collaboration amongst our 30 partners, because we believe widespread social change is best achieved through collective impact. And we also work with the entertainment industry to normalize the depictions of veterans on film and television to dispel common myths about the veteran population.
You are a non-profit associated with veterans or the military. How has military service influenced your organization? Military service is engrained throughout Got Your 6 and our mission. Three out of five employees have served in the US Army (hooah!) and we draw upon our experiences to shape the work we do. We’ve each had different experiences when leaving the military – from going back to school, finding employment and volunteer opportunities, to figuring out where we fit in among our communities. Along the way, we have all realized that the perceptions of veterans do matter. And we consciously work to highlight the unique attributes veterans leave the military with so veterans can strengthen their communities.
Toot your organization’s horn. What have you done that you’re most proud of to date? Since 2012, Got Your 6 has granted $5,637,954 to our nonprofit coalition partners providing collective impact in the following areas:
o Jobs: 585,000 commitments to hire veterans as of December 2014
o Housing: 31,171 veterans housed as of December 2014
o Leadership: 6,867,634 hours of service complete as of December 2014
o Education: 2,041 toolkits distributed as of December 2014
o Health: 123,000 students trained as of December 2014
o Family: 325,824 toolkits distributed and 113,390 teachers trained as of December 2014
In 2015, Got Your 6 unveiled the findings of the first-ever Veterans Civic Health Index (VCHI) with special guests U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. The first-of-its-kind VCHI, produced in collaboration with the National Conference on Citizenship (NCOC), was an extension of Got Your 6’s work to reinforce the idea that veterans are leaders and civic assets. The report explored the unique experiences of America’s veterans to foster understanding between them and civilians so together they can build stronger communities.
As a leader of the veteran empowerment movement, Got Your 6 has referred to veterans as “leaders” and “civic assets.” The findings of the VCHI prove that veterans contribute positively to their communities in a variety of ways including volunteering, voting, and joining community organizations. The VCHI also provides tangible evidence that investing in our country’s veterans is good for our communities. You can read the report here.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to a non-profit start-up? Run your non-profit start-up like you would run a start-up business. Focus on impact and measure your outcomes not just your outputs. Promote the goodness of the work, not yourself. The true test of a leader is building an organization that can survive and thrive while you are absent; work yourself out of a job to this end. Establish your values and purpose as an organization and never waiver from them; it’s all about the mission. Surround yourself with people who share your values and are as passionate about the mission as you are; this should apply to who you hire and who you do business with. Work hard and have fun. If you stop having fun and enjoying the mission you should find another job.
Who (or what) has had the most positive influence on your company and why? From the start, veterans have had the most positive influence on our organization. Got Your 6 is leading the veteran empowerment movement because we represent what our community needs and wants. We have listened to our own stories of the 2.5 million post-9/11 veterans who have served and overcome obstacles of transition and adversity.
They remind us everyday that we are do not want handouts and do not consider ourselves a charity. Although we joined the military for many different reasons, we did so to empower ourselves and our families.
When we leave the military we need to remind ourselves that we’re not broken. We know that we are best served when we are serving others because veterans have told us, shown us and our research backs this up.
As long as we continue to listen to the veteran and military family community, we will stay on azimuth and continue to serve our communities. We will lead a resurgence of community across the nation as we transition out of uniform. We can’t think of a better way to eliminate the civilian-military divide than to step up and lead again.