Over the years we’ve asked our service men and women for a lot. We’ve asked them to leave their families behind, put themselves into harm’s way, and make sacrifices that most Americans have only seen in movies. Today, we have one more thing to ask of them: What’s next?

Homecoming leaders

Each year, a quarter of a million service members exit the military and reenter civilian life. That’s a fantastic opportunity for our country and for our veterans. They might open a business in your neighborhood, run for public office, or just be the one to lend you a helping hand when you need it.

The good news is that veterans are the leaders we're searching for. The latest Census data confirms that veterans volunteer, engage with local governments and community organizations, vote and help neighbors at rates higher than their non-veteran counterparts. Unfortunately, all too often, those positive stories are not being told.

“By making the transition back to civilian life easier, we can unlock tremendous potential to tackle America's problems.”

Energizing communities

It’s impossible to talk about veteran reintegration without considering civic engagement because veterans return home to communities — to their friends, families, and neighbors. Veterans are always looking for new ways to serve and communities are looking for leaders to tackle local problems. Recognizing this connection — the symbiotic relationship between veterans and communities — allows us to support successful veteran reintegration while making our communities stronger at the same time.

We as a country need to come together to empower our transitioning veterans. By making the transition back to civilian life easier, we can unlock tremendous potential to tackle America's problems. We must make it a priority to bring the stories of our veterans into popular culture, uniting veterans and non-veterans in order to lead a resurgence of community here at home.

We saw great things of them while they served in the military, and we look forward to seeing what our veterans accomplish in the next chapter for their lives.