SVA On the Road: Teaming Up with George W. Bush to Serve Wounded Warriors
Student Veterans of America | October 28, 2016
Written by: Derek Fronabarger, SVA's Director of Policy
Of the many different projects that Student Veterans of America works on, it's the ones that bring communities and student veterans together that are the most rewarding. Traveling around the country, talking with chapter leaders and student veterans is not only a way to build new relationships but also talk with the people that we as an organization serve.
When working in D.C., you can get stuck on "inside the beltway" issues and you need to get out to remember why SVA works so hard for veterans. Recently, I had the privilege to travel to Crawford, Texas for one of our student veteran service projects. Service projects are local events where student veterans have the chance to give back to communities by cleaning up playgrounds, assisting homeless shelters, and other activates that serve their communities. This particular event qucickly became the highlight of my year. We were asked to assist in a trail cleanup at the Bush Ranch owned by President George W. Bush.
SVA's Derek Fronabarger along with President George W. Bush and
SVA's President and CEO, Jared Lyon
Local chapters responded to the President's request to help clean debris off of the 100 kilometers of bike trails for the the W100. The W100 is a bike race for disabled veterans that not only promotes teamwork but helps wounded warriors to trust themselves and push their bodies to the limit.
60 student veterans from across Texas attended the service project along with myself, SVA President and CEO, Jared Lyon as well as other community volunteers. Not only was the service project helping wounded warriors but it was amazing to see how many students, and local volunteers, responded to the call to assist in cleaning up the trails. This alone was memorable, however, during the safety brief, and yes it was delivered like a military safety briefing, this is when we were surprised by a visit from President George W. Bush and former First Lady, Laura Bush. He gave a quick thank you to all of those that came out and said that we would see us again soon. Personally, I have worked around many VIP types, but having a former President come by to say hello is the most you can expect, so to hear that we were going to have BBQ with him after cleaning the trails was even more motivating.
Some of the 60 student veterans in attendace along with President George W. Bush
and Mrs. Bush at their ranch in Crawford, Texas.
After several hours of hard work, all the volunteers were treated to lunch with the President and his family. After a round of photos with President Bush and lunch, we returned to our trucks to leave. The remarkable part of this experience was not the fact that a President was in attendance and helping out the veteran community, or the fact that he treated all the volunteers to lunch, but the fact that a community of strangers came together to do work on behalf of veterans.
Regardless of your thoughts about current or past presidents, one of the best things a citizen of the U.S. can do is help others, whether that's painting a house or cleaning up trails. That is what we at SVA do every day and seeing other student veterans take time out of their lives and their studies to help others is what motivates me to continue doing my job.
SVA would like to thank the student veterans, community volunteers, and President and Mrs. Bush for their dedication to helping veterans.