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VeteransRespond organizes and advocates healing through service for Veterans

Author: Schyler Norton

VeteransRespond began as a response to a call for help from protesters at Standing Rock, North Dakota. Mark Sanderson, the founder and executive director of VeteransRespond had never been involved in activism until Standing Rock. There, he used the leadership skills that he learned in the army to organize a group of 2,000 Veterans that wanted to provide aid and protection to the protestors. Mark used a military model and built a unit within the protest to do good. While there, the veterans carried food, water, and firewood to the camp. They also established an intelligence service to gather intel and stay alert to any possible threats to protesters.

Through this, Mark came up with the idea for VeteransRespond. He knew that there was so much untapped potential in Veterans. People that wanted to continue to protect and serve the people they signed up to serve and protect, and to “fight the good fight at home.” Mark came up with the idea to have a stand ready force of Veterans available to aid in many different types of situations. Whether it be going to a city council meeting to oppose something that the public is not in favor of, respond to a natural disaster, or protect peaceful protesters and deescalate situations nonviolently.

VeteransRespond is working to rewrite the narrative of what it means to be a veteran in the 21st century. Mark wants to promote the image of the socially aware veteran that is helping communities and doing their part to change the world. VeteransRespond’s #1 value is environmental stewardship, followed by unity and preservation. There is already a network of people in place because of the organizing Mark did for Standing Rock. There is a chapter of VeteransRespond launching in San Diego, and many people are trying to launch chapters nationally.

Mark was very impressed by Buffalo’s can do attitude and decided to establish the national headquarters of VeteransRespond here.

Mark Sanderson also works with Nate Peracciny and Matthew Crane, both currently located in Buffalo. Matthew has been involved in many volunteer projects here in Buffalo. He was heavily involved in the West Side extreme home makeover, and managed volunteers during which they did 150 major home improvements.

Mark was very impressed by Buffalo’s can do attitude and decided to establish the national headquarters of VeteransRespond here. In April, Mark and his family will be moving from Texas to Buffalo to continue to grow VeteransRespond with the help of Nate and Matthew. They will start promoting Veteran produced media, and continuing on with the media produced by Nate, which can be viewed on their Facebook page.

The hope is to start a magazine that each month will identify a veteran in the area and promote their business. VeteransRespond will also be working with local organizations such as Americorps, Boys and Girls Club, and CompeerCORPS. Local business is very important to VeteransRespond, and they make sure the money they spend goes back into the Buffalo community. Mark is also very impressed by how aware people are in Buffalo and therefore wants to make Buffalo activists a majority of the board of VeteransRespond.

This weekend VeteransRespond will be in DC for the Women’s March on Washington to act as a de escalation force and provide protection against agitators if necessary. They will act as a barrier between protesters and any agitators if the need arise. They would also like to provide a safe space during the march for anyone feeling overwhelmed that needs to be in a peaceful and calm environment.

VeteransRespond organizes and advocates healing through service for Veterans. Our team Mobilizes Veteran responders to serve in communities impacted by environmental and social injustices. VeteransRespond works to create a community where Veterans can reconnect, reintegrate, and heal by utilizing their unique and diverse skill sets gained through military service to make a positive impact on Americans at home.

If they are unable to provide one at this march they will be attempting to do so at any marches in the future. In the days leading up to the march, VeteransRespond will be walking around Congress, talking to congressmen and women about what their organization does, and hopefully gaining additional support.

Buffalo is lucky to have people like Mark, Nate and Matt want to work with us and for us to better our community. Buffalo Rising is excited to see what they have in store for the Western New York area. Keep fighting the good fight.

Want to support VeteransRespond in DC? Here is a link to their GoFundMe.

Written by BRo Guest Authors

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