’SC hosts daylong conference to support veterans

first_imgUSC Sol Price School of Public Policy hosted a conference Tuesday on the critical issues facing veterans returning from war, including re-entering the workforce and the high rates of homelessness.Veteran support · Dean of USC Price School of Public Policy Jack Knott speaks about the importance of improving the quality of life of veterans returning from war. USC hosted a conference for public service leaders on Tuesday at Bovard Auditorium. – Ralf Cheung | Daily Trojan Former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and USC professor Gen. David Petraeus spoke at the beginning of the conference.Petraeus spoke about the veterans coming home from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and reminded the audience of the tremendous service veterans provide to the nation.“The post-9/11 veterans have come to be deservedly recognized as the new greatest generation,” he said. “America has never had a group of men and women who have spent as long in combat, with over two million of them having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.”Petraeus also introduced the topic of supporting veterans returning from combat.“While our country continues to provide support for our veterans and their families, we can and we should do more, and I know that those here share that conviction,” Petraeus said.The conference featured keynote speakers that included Jacob Wood, former U.S. Marine and president and co-founder of Team Rubicon, a humanitarian disaster relief group.Wood’s organization gathers groups of veterans who then go provide disaster relief all over the world. Humanitarian projects Team Rubicon has been involved with include relief for the victims of Hurricane Sandy and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.Wood said his inspiration for creating disaster relief efforts came from his experiences serving as a medical aid to people injured in natural disasters.“When I was working on a bullet wound on a young boy, I realized that these hands that I had that were trained for war could just as easily be trained for peace,” Wood said.Wood also spoke about veterans’ issues and how his organization combines veterans’ needs to provide for and defend their country with the need for volunteers in disaster relief.“One problem was that we had inadequate disaster response and the other was the need [for] veterans to feel something better,” Wood said. “We sat there and realized that these aren’t actually two problems but rather two mutually supporting solutions.”Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave a keynote speech that emphasized assisting veterans to transition back into civilian life. Garcetti addressed the issues that veterans living in Los Angeles face.“We need to ensure that veterans today can return home to bright futures,” he said. “Making sure that there’s basic opportunities for all Angelenos, especially those who have put their lives on the line for our nation, is essential.”Garcetti specifically pointed to the Veterans’ Affairs offices and the lack of assistance that veterans seem to be getting from the organization.“Veterans in Los Angeles face on average 377 days to receive responses to their Veterans’ Affairs claims. That’s unacceptable,” Garcetti said.The mayor also addressed the issue of veterans re-entering the civilian workforce.“Let’s also make sure that our veterans’ skills are being put to work for use in the workplace by connecting them with training and placement,” he said. “We’ve seen amazing organizations who train veterans for careers in growing industries.”Garcetti also offered suggestions for how USC students could help the efforts providing veterans with the resources they need when returning from service.“Setting up a student-to-student help hotline or looking for those veterans and reaching out to them would be so beneficial,” Garcetti told the Daily Trojan. “Veterans are often invisible because they look like the rest of campus, and I think students can help students better than anyone else can.”The conference concluded with a screening of HBO’s Alive Day Memories: Home from Iraq. The documentary featured interviews with Iraq War veterans who suffered emotional trauma.The veterans featured in the documentary recounted their “alive days”: the days they each narrowly escaped death.One such veteran, Sgt. Bryan Anderson, described the surreal experience of losing both of his legs and his left arm in a bombing during his time in Iraq. Anderson noted that the most important thing was his independence, which was taken from him the day he was injured.First Lt. Dawn Halfaker, who underwent an amputation of her right arm, spoke about the importance of the documentary after the screening.“It told the story of our lives, and I’m grateful that it felt like a safe place to talk about what had happened to me,” Halfaker said.Students responded to the documentary screening with varied insights on how to assist in veterans’ causes. Adam Syed, a junior majoring in psychology, addressed the issue of veterans’ affairs as being different than other relief efforts.“I think veterans’ issues are a lot less hands-on than other humanitarian efforts like raising money for charity,” Syed said. “It’s not really something that one student can do alone. A lot of people have to really band together to see real results.”Jessyka Linton, a senior majoring in political science, said she views awareness as the most important aspect of being a part of the efforts in alleviating veterans’ issues.“Events like these are so interesting because they’re really the first step into the relief efforts,” Linton said. “You really can’t help if you’re not aware of the issues at hand, so I’d say the first thing to do is be informed about these important topics.”last_img read more

Importance of the Latino vote discussed at panel

first_imgTo discuss the importance of the Latino vote and strategies the 2016 presidential candidates should take to get their vote, the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics hosted the event “Election 2016: Latino Voters and the Issues that Matter” in partnership with the Latina/o Student Assembly and Political Student Assembly Thursday evening in the Ronald Tutor Campus Center.The panel, the third installment in the “It’s Our Election Too” series, featured Communications and Marketing Director of First 5 LA Gabriel Sanchez, Unruh Director Dan Schnur, Multicultural Greek Council President Alexa Chande and Hermanas Unidas member Brandi Montañez comprised the rest of the panel.The panelists stressed the importance of young Latino voters and advised candidates to access both sides of the Latino generational gap.“That’s the big key which we have to tap into: how we are bridging the gap between people who are going to college that are coming out to vote and people related to them, like their parents,” Chande said. “The candidate that gets those people out there and that is able to bridge the gap will most likely find the most success.”As a Latina herself, Chande believes that older generations face different issues than their children or grandchildren. However, young Latinos and Latinas can educate their parents on the political issues that matter to them.“We have that responsibility and that very close connection with our parents to be able to educate them and help them make decisions that are ultimately going to affect them in their future,” Chande said.Sanchez shared successful creative tactics, like novellas and live comic books, used to reach the Latino audience and educate them about the importance of healthcare.“It’s not simply translation, but trans-adapting,” Sanchez said. “You have to know what a general audience is looking for and what messages are acceptable. It’s thinking about what channels your audiences [are] using.”Shifting back to politics, the panelists discussed how the presidential candidates’ viewpoints on health care will influence Latino votes.“Whichever candidate puts cultural competency in healthcare on their platform should be very important,” Montañez said.Schnur believed that the rhetoric surrounding healthcare policy needs to be simplified.“I’d say for most voters it comes back to a matter of comfort,” Schnur said. “It doesn’t matter whether you are someone who’s just arrived in this country or a sixth generation. This is a very complicated system to understand.”The panel raised the issue of the  media’s extensive coverage of immigration and how it is often portrayed as a priority for Latino voters. The panelists agreed that the education and economic opportunity are Latinos’ top concerns.While Sanchez believed that immigration was an “indicator” of  a candidate’s ethos, Schnur thought it’s a “boulder.”“It’s a really large rock in the road that prevents candidates from being heard by voters who would otherwise be willing to listen to them,” Schnur said.Sanchez asserted that the fundamental issue is that Latinos need to actually go to the polls.“Latinos nationwide need to be at the table,” Sanchez said. “That is, participating regardless if it’s for one candidate or the other. It’s actually showing up.”last_img read more