As a veteran, I want to be that better citizen and give back to my country. It resonates on a personal level. In the military, you serve your country, but when you serve here locally in Houston, you serve citizens more directly.
In a few short days, I will join thousands of my coworkers at Comcast NBCUniversal in giving back to our communities through Comcast Cares Day. I’ve been working at Comcast for 11 years, and I’ve gotten something out of every Comcast Cares Day in which I’ve participated. From feeding the hungry to repainting bleachers in a school, I know my service to my community has made a difference.
I’m especially pumped up for this Comcast Cares Day on April 30th. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan as part of the 355th Rescue Mission Operation Squadron, and I look forward to being out with hundreds of other Comcast Cares Day volunteers at a special place: Camp Hope.
Camp Hope provides interim housing for veterans and their families suffering from combat-related post-traumatic stress. I’ve personally worked there as a Comcast technician, helping to set up computers in their facility, and I see what they do and how they impact the community for veterans who come out of the military with PTSD challenges. Every year we lose so many to PTSD, and how fortunate it is that we have a place like Camp Hope here in Houston to take them in, house them, feed them, and support them.
Camp Hope opened in 2012, and veterans can find healing and hope while benefiting from an intensive peer support and mentoring program. Camp Hope also offers a PTSD recovery program in which residents attend group lessons and support sessions with other combat veterans, and get involved with local churches, businesses and volunteer organizations to help them in their personal healing and educate the community on the invisible wounds of war.
In addition, the staff helps veterans with job placement, assists with claims and benefits, transportation to appointments, and peer support group integration.
This year marks my seventh Comcast Cares Day, and my first at Camp Hope. I’m one of the project leaders, and we will be adding to previous work done on Comcast Cares Days in 2012 and 2014. My team of more than 400 volunteers will expand a playground and a park by putting down pebble rocks to diminish muddy areas. We’re going to make it a beautiful and comfortable spot for veterans to spend time with their families.
Camp Hope has a new two-story building to house veterans, and Comcast employees will also help support it by laying down shrubbery, staining wood decking, and having children hand-paint pots for plants and flowers.
Houston isn’t the only place where we are helping veterans this Comcast Cares Day. There are 30 projects focused on veterans and the military community, with more than 2,000 individual volunteers.
Among the projects are these:
Care packages for troops: Volunteers in Hudson and Manchester, N.H. will create care packages for deployed military personnel with Operation Care for Troops, while volunteers in Wheeling, W.Va., and Stow, Ohio, will partner with Boatsie’s Boxes.
Work with the Veterans Administration: In Arkansas, there will be a project with City Year, one of our national community partners, to rebuild the Fort Roots Greenhouse and gardens at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System in Little Rock.; there will be multiple projects—from painting to landscaping—at the Coatesville VA Medical Center in Coatesville, Pa.; and yet other work at the Fisher House at the Hines VA Medical center near Chicago.
General veterans support: In the Washington D.C. area, volunteers will return to support the Maryland Center for Veterans Education & Training; NBC 7 San Diego will build playhouses with Habitat for Humanity; and there will be support for Veterans Place Pittsburgh and Women’s Wisdom House in Harrisburg, Pa. In Colorado Springs, we will work with the Colorado Veterans Resource Coalition, while Nashville volunteers are again partnering with Operation Stand Down Tennessee.
I have a 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Julia. She’s actually a huge helper. When I’m working on a car or fixing a toy, she wants to pull out the screwdriver and start working. How great it will be to utilize that help and pair it with an important piece of learning at that young age. I want her to learn the importance of giving back and the joy we get from giving.
The Camp Hope community embraces our troops, veterans and their families as they work to make their lives rewarding and fulfilling, something they so richly deserve. It is a beautiful thing that there are others out there who care about our veterans to that extent, and I’m proud that Comcast Cares Day helps us show people care.