The Power of Collaboration

The Power of Collaboration

 “People who work together will win, whether it be against complex football defenses, or the problems of modern society.” Vince Lombardi, NFL Football Coach (5 NFL Championships, 2 Super Bowls)

Suicide is one of society’s most complex problems, especially suicide as it relates to veterans and their families. Service members and veterans die from suicide at rates greater than their non-veteran counterparts. This problem, while difficult and multifaceted to say the least, is not insurmountable.

On December 6, Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services gathered organizations dedicated to enhancing the wellbeing of veterans and their families at the Angel Force USA “Stop SuiSilence” Summit.

The summit focused on finding solutions to SuiSilence, Angel Force USA’s term highlighting the lack of discussion around veteran suicide and the lives impacted by veterans taking their own lives. Attendees committed to tackling the issue head-on in an effort to combat and ultimately bring an end to SuiSilence.

Throughout the summit, Dixon Center’s partners, Utility Workers Military Assistance Program, FourBlock, Vets4Warriors, Hope for the Warriors, PsychArmor, Dept. of VA, Veterans Plus, and K9s for Warriors presented solutions built on the eight dimensions of wellness – solutions aimed at increasing the wellbeing of veterans and their families and preventing the isolation and disconnection that precedes suicide.

To learn more about empowering veterans and their families to succeed where they live, check out our website:

Dixon Center Partners Making a Difference! (from L to R: Rick Passarelli, UMAP; Eric Stetson, FourBlock; Joshua Zabler, Vets4Warriors; Erin Lester, Hope for the Warriors; Tina Atherall, PsychArmor; Derric Brown, Dept. of VA; Sam Whitehurst, Dixon Center; Chris Fitzpatrick, VeteransPlus; Damion Cook, K9s for Warriors
Colonel Sam Whitehurst, Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services addressing the Angel Force USA Stop SuiSilence Summit

A Veterans Day Message from Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services

A Veterans Day Message from Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services

“I would go to war with these guys!”

This weekend, I heard a well-known college football coach proclaim this as he discussed his team following their victory over one of their most competitive rivals. It’s easy to dismiss this as just part of the natural exuberance and hyperbole that many coaches engage in following a thrilling victory.

But for veterans, this is not exaggeration or an overstatement—it’s not hypothetical, but part of the reality of what it means to serve, an example of the commitment and trust that veterans have in each other, and the level of resolve that is inherent in our veterans.

This is who I think about on Veterans Day, the men and women that I have served with, men and women that I did go to war with; men and women from different parts of the country and different backgrounds, diverse experiences but who all share one thing—an unwavering commitment to person to their left and right, an uncompromising belief in the fidelity of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Veterans Day is a time to reflect and consider how all of us can contribute to that brotherhood and sisterhood, how we can best support veterans and their families. It’s more than just thanking them for their service but exploring how we can more effectively integrate veterans and their families into existing programs to address their evolving needs. Working together to ensure that veterans find Work with Purpose, Heal with Honor, and Live with Hope. The goal, quite simply, is to prevent the isolation and disconnection that burdens some of our veterans and leverage those qualities that we see in veterans from all generations—resiliency, duty, perseverance, and a strong sense of community.

Supporting veterans and their families starts with connecting with Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, a member of the Fedcap Group. Our noble purpose is to make the lives of veterans and their families better and ensure they reach their full potential. But a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work—it takes a community of partners who share in that noble purpose.  Dixon Center is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges that veterans face in different communities and forge those partnerships.

As we reflect on the service of our veterans on this Veterans Day, join Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services in developing solutions that enable veterans and their families to succeed where they live.

Dixon Center is Paving the Way for Veterans and Their Families Into the Trucking Industry

Dixon Center is Paving the Way for Veterans and Their Families Into the Trucking Industry

Dixon Center continues to spread the message about opportunities for transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans in the trucking industry. We recently participated in Tank Truck Week in Houston, sponsored by National Tank Truck Carriers. Watch an overview of Tank Truck Week and Dixon Center’s role here.

It was a great opportunity to connect with industry partners and employers who are providing meaningful careers—careers that are purposeful and critical to our country’s economic security.

Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services looks forward to sharing data and research in the near future on how careers in the trucking industry help our veterans reach their full potential.

Another example of how Dixon Center is a proven leader in assisting organizations in recruiting, integrating, training, and retaining veterans and their families into their workforce. Dixon Center and our partners have been instrumental to the expanding efforts to provide career-specific training throughout the country. Dixon Center has ensured that these programs provide a pathway into the middle class for veterans and ensured a level playing field with their civilian counterparts.

Learn more about our work here and contact Colonel (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst at

Dixon Center leading a discussion with Jim Anderson, Florida Rock and Tank Lines, and Ryan Streblow, National Tank Truck Carriers

Powerful Leadership Reflections from Arlington National Cemetery

Powerful Leadership Reflections from Arlington National Cemetery

Two weeks ago—as part of the International Union of Elevator Constructors laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—I was honored to lead a group of men and women on a walking tour of our nation’s most hallowed ground. Throughout the day, our group paid tribute to those who served and sacrificed—Audie Murphy, James Parks, a masonry vault containing the remains of 2,111 soldiers gathered from the fields of Bull Run (Manassas, VA) and the route to the Rappahannock River, Robert Todd Lincoln, John F. Kennedy…and so many more. As always, it was a chance for reflection and humility.

These leadership tours of Arlington National Cemetery have become cherished moments for me. I am always looking forward to the next one.

Arlington National Cemetery is a place where every American can find solace and reflect on the achievements, selflessness, and lives of those buried there. The purpose of these tours is to not only pay homage to their memories but also to link experiences from the past to current day behaviors and principles – ultimately, helping to shape and develop leaders adept at learning from the lives of others.

Veterans Services Bugler, Laying a Wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, I shared reflections from this special day that will hold true for years to come:

  1. Inspiring Others to Action. The character of our fallen inspires us – this includes their actions during their lives, as well as their personal presence both on and off the battlefield.
  1. Individual and Team Success. Leaders can’t (and shouldn’t) rest on their laurels. Should they do so, they are sure to find themselves disappointed by missed opportunities and delays.  
  1. Leading by Example. Real leaders earn the respect of their people by their personal presence and enduring pressure. Effective, trusted leaders never back down when things get difficult.  
  1. Relationships and Trust. We all want to work with people we admire, respect, and trust. Interpersonal relationships depend on trust. Therefore, a workplace culture built on trust is essential for success.
  1. Indirect Versus Direct Leadership. Leaders at all levels, either directly or indirectly, influence people by providing purpose, direction, and motivation to improve the organization or accomplish the mission. 
  1. Decision-Making. The best leaders understand how and why they make a decision, their individual level of comfort with decision-making, and how they best receive, process, and seek information when making decisions. Never fear decision-making; instead, embrace this critical aspect of being a leader. 

The lessons we’ve learned from those who came before us are still alive today. These lessons are relevant to every individual who wants to improve his or her performance, both as a leader and as a follower. If you are interested in a customized Leadership Walking Tour of Arlington National Cemetery for your employees, organization, or family & friends contact Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services.

Task Force Movement & American Legion Conference

Task Force Movement & American Legion Conference

Dixon Center and other TFM-Trucking Partners at American Legion Conference in Milwaukee.
Dixon Center and other TFM-Trucking Partners at American Legion Conference in Milwaukee.

Several weeks ago, we introduced our readers to Task Force Movement: Life-Cycle Pathways for Veterans and Military into Trucking (TFM-Trucking), a coalition of veteran organizations, academia, and transportation companies with the mission to recruit transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans into the trucking industry. As a coalition and steering committee member, Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services has been leading a series of convenings of military and veteran service organizations to both identify the barriers to entry for those from military-connected communities and also highlight solutions that are providing pathways into these high-paying careers.

At the recent American Legion Annual Conference in Milwaukee, Dixon Center along with other partners in TFM-Trucking shared some of our initial findings and engaged in discussions to turn these findings into actionable items that will create real impact for service members, veterans, and their families. Findings that include informing people about the opportunities in the trucking industry, but also informing employers about the potential and unique needs of service members, veterans, and their families.  Dixon Center is looking forward to sharing more with our supporters when the final report is published on Veterans Day this year.

At the conference Patrick Murphy, TFM Chairman, also announced the creation of Task Force Movement-Cyber Security. TFM-Cyber Security, similar to TFM-Trucking will pave the way to high-paying careers in cyber security.

Careers that will provide middle-class salaries, healthcare, and benefits along with recruiting talent into an industry that is becoming increasingly important to our national and economic security each year.

As with TFM-Trucking, Dixon Center will be taking a leading role to ensure that our transitioning service members, military spouses, and veterans have a shot at this vital and growing industry.

Dixon Center shares initial findings at American Legion Conference.
Patrick Murphy announces the launch of Task Force Movement-Cyber Security.

Creating Work with Purpose!

Creating Work with Purpose!

“As they proved during the pandemic and as they prove every day, utility workers are indispensable to our economy and our national security.”

James T. Slevin, National President, Utility Workers Union of America.

Positive outcomes for veterans and their families start with careers that provide purpose and recognize the experience and skills developed during their military service: careers that pay wages and salaries and provide benefits, that not only allow veterans to support themselves and their families, but to plan for and invest in their future; careers that provide affordable healthcare; and careers that offer advancement into positions of increasing responsibilities.

The Utility Workers Military Assistace Program (UMAP), part of the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), is laser-focused on achieveing that goal for our veterans and their families by creating a pathway into an industry that is critical to strengthening our economy and vital to our national security. Even during the height of the pandemic, UWUA members were in the “trenches”, ensuring that people had access to clean water, electricy, and heat. UMAP is also taking the lead in  renewable energy and wind power and creating opportunities for veterans in these emerging industries.

And it’s about creating a culture based on the ideas of brotherhood and sisterhood. Four years ago, I had the opportunity to spend an evening with members of UWUA Local 18007 in Chicago. As I watched the members interact with each other, it reminded me of being around an infantry rifle squad in Afghanistan or Iraq—the camaraderie, the strong bonds, and the sense that you know that someone always has your back. This is why the 1,000+ veterans that have graduated the UMAP program are thriving.

Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services has been partnered with UMAP from the beginning, providing influence, ideas, and actions that have enhanced and increased the capacity of this successful program.

If you are an organization that wants to learn more about our work with the UWUA and creating work with purpose for veterans, contact Colonel (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst at

*Far right image: Col (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst, VP, Programs & Services, Dixon Center, speaks at UWUA Region IV Conference 

*Far left image: Rick Passarelli, Director, Veterans Affairs and Workforce Development, UWUA, updates members on UMAP

UWUA Region IV Conference, 11-13 August 2022

The PACT Act has passed!

The PACT Act has passed!

On Tuesday, August 2, 2022, the Senate passed historic legislation that will deliver all generations of toxic-exposed veterans their long-overdue VA health care and benefits. Named in honor of a veteran who died because of toxic exposure during his military service, the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act will ensure that 3,500,000 toxic-exposed and post 9/11 veterans recevie the treatment they have earned, establishes 31 new VA facilities across 19 states, and boosts VA’s claim processing capacity and strengthen’s VA’s workforce.

On Wednesday, August 10th, the PACT Act will become law when President Biden signs it in a special ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House.

If you are an organization that supports veterans and their families, or if you are a veteran and believe you may be eligible for treatment and support due to your exposure to environmental toxins (e.g. burn pits), you can learn more about the PACT Act at or by calling the VA at 1-800-MyVA411.

The PACT Act will benefit millions of veterans and there are many individuals and organizations who have been instrumental in passing this transformative legislation. But there are two people who stand out in their commitment and perseverance, Rosie and Capt. (Ret.) Le Roy Torres from Burn Pits 360. They have been on the forefront of this issue for years and it is no overstatement to say that it would not have passed without their leadership.

Burn Pits 360 is emblematic of the partners that Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services works with across our three pillars of work, Work with Purpose, Heal with Honor, and Live with Hope.

Dixon Center looks forward to continuing to work with Rosie and Le Roy at Burn Pits 360 in our noble purpose making the lives of veterans and their families better.

It’s important that we understand what unemployment looks like for veterans, it is just as important to understand what underemployment looks like as well. Being in a job where you have far less responsibility than you had in the military and the leadership, teambuilding, and the ability to adapt that you developed in the military are not recognized, or may not be held in high regard. On top of that, the difference between what you are making in a minimum wage, entry-level job is tens of thousand dollars less than what you earned in the military.

Underemployment creates a downward spiral that leads to other issues—living paycheck to paycheck, loss of self-esteem, increased stress and anxiety, and barriers to accessing high-quality healthcare.

At Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, our approach is to partner with organizations and programs who make countering veteran underemployment part of their core mission.

The United Association, a labor union that represents workers in the plumbing and pipefitting industries, is one of our partners and is a leader in creating opportunities for transitioning service members and their families. Through their Veterans in Piping program, an 18-week course that provides industry-recognized certifications in welding, fire sprinkler fitting, and HVAC-R (heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration), service members are leaving the military with guaranteed employment, enrollment into a registered apprenticeship program, and a career that provides middle-class wages from the outset, healthcare, and benefits. Dixon Center assists in integrating service members and their families into the UA VIP program by introducing the service members to wellness programs, that assist with finding a home, financial counseling, physical and mental health support, legal services, and more.

The UA VIP program is directly attacking veteran underemployment and is the recipe for long-term success for service members once they depart the military. This partnership, which along with Dixon Center, also includes the Department of Defense, is making a real difference in the lives of veterans and their families.

Task Force Movement

Task Force Movement

Task Force Movement is . . . [the] bridge between veterans and the trucking industry, . . . that bridge that needs to be more accessible to our brother and sister veterans.” Honorable Patrick J. Murphy, former Acting Secretary of the Army

Seventy-two percent of all goods in America are shipped by truck and we have all seen in recent years the critical role that all types of truckers have played and continue to play in driving our economy, from long-haul/over-the-road truckers to local city drivers. 

But . . . according to American Trucking Association, the trucking industry is experiencing a shortage of around 80,000 drivers. And that gap is expected to widen to over 160,000 by 2030.  This has created a “perfect storm” for our economy—an economy and a supply chain system incredibly dependent on trucking, but a transportation industry facing a widening gap in qualified, experienced drivers. We also should be focused on the negative national security implications that gaps in our transportation system create.

This is where Task Force Movement: Life-Cycle Pathways for Veterans and Military into Trucking, chaired by former Congressman and veteran Patrick Murphy, steps in—TFM is a partnership between the trucking industry and leading veteran organizations, including Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services, to recruit and retain service members and veterans into an industry that pays an average of 60,000 to 80,000 a year. Well-paying careers that include affordable healthcare and benefits, the definition of work with purpose.

Thanks go to Patrick Murphy and Cassie Byard, TFM’s Executive Director, for their leadership in guiding this coalition as we work with our partners in industry, like ABF Freight, and our partners in the federal government, like DoL-VETS, to identify best practices and initiatives that will provide opportunities for the approximately 70,000 veterans who have certified trucking experience in the last five years.

Not only veterans, but also the over 200,000 service members who leave active-duty each year, including women service members and service members of color.

If you are an organization that wants to be part of this work in making  the lives of veterans and their families better, contact Colonel (Ret.) Sam Whitehurst at

Well Done Is Better Than Well Said

Well Done Is Better Than Well Said

This country has a long history of men and women making sacrifices for our freedom.

As we celebrate our freedom and our county’s independence this holiday with our families, we especially appreciate how actions across the country are enhancing the independence of those touched by military service. 

Independence is not driven by words but by actions. 

It is in our DNA as a country, an attitude across the nation, to want to assist those individuals who have served in uniform and their families. In the past few months we’ve seen this Sea of Goodwill in action. Soldier On kicking off new affordable housing for veterans in Massachusettes. Easterseals Serving Greater Cincinatti celebrating their service to 4,000 veterans and expanding direct services and facilities. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans expanding their collaborative training, and Bob Woodruff Foundation Got Your 6 training and education.

So this July 4th, please go beyond what you might usually do and get to know our veterans and their families through action. A little creativity and an inquisitive mind will turn up lots of opportunities to put your talents to good use.

For example, if you don’t support a food bank, would you consider doing so? It would mean a lot for veterans, spouses and children facing food insecurities. 

Your generous, tax-deductible, memorial or honorary tribute donation to Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services will make a positive difference in the lives of veterans and their families.  Don’t just make an investment. Have an impact.

In New England, our partners, Soldier On are building more affordable housing and outreach to veterans at risk of homelessness. Their outreach coordinators travel to the client, responding to needs while being unencumbered by office hours or locations. Donate so they can have the gas to travel.

We will pledge this to you. If you extend your thanks by taking some action, you will become an honorary member of a special network of people – then we can thank you for your service.

The Key to Supporting Veterans and their Families Where They Live . . . Collaboration!

The Key to Supporting Veterans and their Families Where They Live . . . Collaboration!

As a Soldier, you are always focused on security, always prepared for threats, no matter the direction. You are taught to be especially vigilant against threats from the direction where you expect them the least, from behind you. In the Army, we refer to this as ensuring that someone is always watching your “six,” or making sure someone has your “six” covered. That approach is found in all facets of military service—30 years as a Soldier, I always knew, that no matter the circumstances, I could always count on my fellow Soldiers to have my back, to cover my six.

That approach describes the Got Your 6 (GY6) Network, an initiative sponsored by the Bob Woodruff Foundation. GY6 is a network of communities, working together to impact the lives of veterans and their families in the communities where they live.  The GY6 network steers tools and resources to their national network of local partners, increasing their capacity and creating  a collaborative community that shares solutions to the evolving needs of veterans and their families—always ensuring that someone is covering their “six.”  

Recently, GY6 hosted the Got Your 6 Summit in New York City, bringing together community-based organizations that provide services to veterans and their families in New York. It was a day of collaboration as individuals and organizations shared what was working, what wasn’t, and developed innovative ideas to increase the well-being of veterans and their families.

Creating an environment where veteran serving non-profits, governmental organizations, philanthropists, academia and research organizations, and the private sector can come together and work toward a common objective is what made the GY6 Summit so successful.

This approach of increasing the capacity of organizations that serve veterans through collaboration, training, and resources also defines how Dixon Center for Military and Veterans Services makes the lives of veterans and their families better across our three pillars of work, Work with Purpose, Heal with Honor, and Live with Hope.

Dixon Center looks forward to continuing to work with the Bob Woodruff Foundation, the Got Your 6 Network, and our other partners who are increasing the well-being of veterans and their families across the country

Photo One: John Avlon, CNN Sr. Political Analyst and General George Casey, 36th Army Chief of Staff at the Got Your 6 Summit

Photo Two: Meg Harrell, Bob Woodruff Foundation; Rajeev Ramchand, RAND; Sam Whitehurst, Dixon Center; and Carrie Farmer, RAND

Photo Three: Colonel (R) Sam Whitehurst, Dixon Center, at the Got Your 6 Summit