The Veterans’ Day Parade: A Good Next Step

Sandwiched between the US Navy ROTC Marching Band and group of Native American Veterans; I marched alongside a group of fifty Services for the Underserved Veterans, Executives and JWT Employees to celebrate and honor the service of all US Veterans. The New York City Veteran’s Day Parade may have been a short walk up 5th Avenue from Madison Square Park, but it’s been a long road getting here.

The first Veterans Day Parade that JWT participated in with SUS (Services for the Underserved) was in 2010, where we broke our first joint campaign called “The Cardboard Apartment.” The installation symbolized the transition that SUS helps people make from being homeless to having their own apartment, and it marked the start of our efforts to transform the SUS brand.

  • Veteran's Day Parade Veteran's Day Parade Photos by Marisa Train.
  • Services for the Underserved marching up 5th Avenue.
  • Homes, Jobs, Wellness for Veterans
  • Thousands of New Yorkers came out to celebrate and support.
  • Supporters marched from Madison Square Park to Rockefeller Center.
  • See more photos here: http://bit.ly/TFmyBu

     

Taking that one step further, last year we used the opportunity to break the “After the Parade” movement, SUS and JWT New York’s campaign to reposition the way we think about Veterans issues. It is no longer good enough to support Veterans at the parade, and then forget about them the next morning. Homelessness, unemployment, and mental health problems don’t disappear when the marching band stops. We still need real solutions to these problems. For over 15 years SUS has been providing homes, jobs and wellness programs for 725 Veterans in NYC. Whether it’s getting a previously homeless Vietnam Vet off the street and into an apartment or getting a 22 year old Veteran of Afghanistan into a college program, SUS is there to provide the long term help and stability our Veterans need.

This year, we walked to continue the success from last year. The “After the Parade” campaign has raised millions in its first year, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Some new additions to the campaign this year include a fundraising partnership with Pizzeria UNO and Andrew Zimmern as well as a partnership with Home Depot to refurbish the Knickerbocker, one of SUS residences for Veterans.

Walking thru the crowds of thousands yesterday was a fun way to celebrate the success we have had working together to support our Veterans, and it was a reminder about what makes them great. The honor, integrity, and courage of generations of Veterans were on full display throughout the day, as was the appreciation of a grateful nation.

However, the one thing we can’t forget is that the challenges our Veterans face aren’t solved by parades. Honoring and celebrating our Veterans with a parade is an important way to show our support and gratitude for their sacrifice, but it’s only the first step on a long journey. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs recognized this today, by awarding $100 million in new funding to eliminate Veteran Homelessness, out of which over $500K will go to SUS to serve 75 NYC Veterans. To date, the After the Parade campaign launched by SUS and JWT New York has raised $4.8 Million for NYC’s Veterans.

Visit www.sus.org for a better way to help our Vets when they need it most—after the parade.

Drew Train is an Account Director at JWT New York. Follow Drew on Twitter.

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