I can sum up my experience at MVA with one word: Empowerment.
For Minority Veterans of America, empowerment is the goal we have for our programs and veterans. But what is empowerment? How can we recognize it? Evaluate it? Talk about it with others? Many have come to view “empowerment” as nothing more than a buzzword.
MVA taught me that empowerment is much more than that. Empowerment is a process that challenges our assumptions about the way things are and can be. It challenges our knowledge of power, helping, achieving, and succeeding.
Empowerment is a multi-faceted social process that helps people gain control over their own lives. It is a process that fosters power in people, for use in their personal lives, their communities, and in their society, by acting on issues that they define as important.
Empowerment, by definition, is a social process, since it occurs in relationship to others. Empowerment is a process that is similar to a path or journey, one that develops as we work through it. For me, MVA has driven home the point that the individual and community are fundamentally connected.
By creating a space where veterans like us can share our intersecting identities without fear of slander or retribution, we can empower ourselves by sharing our stories that are so often left out of the modern veteran narrative. We can advocate for our unique needs with people who are affected by the decisions made by those who choose to ignore our existence. We can finally find the acceptance and recognition we crave amongst our peers and allies.
Many veterans have asked me what to do, now that they’ve transitioned back into civilian lives. For me, I’ll never have to ask that question again.
My answer is empower veterans to have the lives that they deserve.
Won’t you join us?
Penelope Shoshana Dexenjaeger
MVA Communications Team Lead
US Army Veteran
“Give light and people will find the way”