NatCon2022 Day 2 was so great! We generally missed the first few sessions, so our day started off at the SVA Honors Luncheon, where many awards were presented.
Secretary of the VA Denis McDonough addressed the luncheon and talked about many initiatives at VA improving veterans education. He also gave a shout out to SVRN’s own Nick Mararac! He told a story about meeting Nick and being inspired by his work supporting and resettling Afghan allies, and noted that the continuing service of Nick and others isn’t unique among the student veteran population, that vets are driven to continue to serve after leaving the military.
We also heard from Michael “Rod” Rodriguez, president of global war on terrorism memorial foundation, charged with making memorial on the DC mall. He announced that two weeks ago president Biden signed their bill and this memorial will be built among the other DC war memorials. He was also awarded the first ever SVA Senator Bob Dole Continuing Service Award for his work on the memorial, marking Bob Dole’s work getting the WWII memorial established.
Nick Mararac again stood out in the luncheon as the SVA Chapter he runs at Georgetown University won the SVA Chapter of the Year Award! A big day for Nick, nice work!!
But most importantly today was the day of our session! We had a GREAT turn out, there weren’t enough chairs for everyone. We spoke for ~20 minutes about the mission and vision of the network we’re trying to build and where we want to see it grow, then opened the floor to the audience for comments and suggestions.
The response was overwhelming encouragement! So many people expressed the need for something like this and were grateful we had created it. It was really validating of our feeling that this was meeting an important need in the student veteran community. We also had a ton of good suggestions for the audience, and several offers for volunteer help and support! I am overwhelmed with support and need time to really sit and process all the suggestions and ideas and new network contacts. But we’ve got some new direction for improvement for the future.
I ended the day with more mickey snacks and vendor booths, then headed off the resort grounds to a rock and roll themed bar and grill with the Arizona SVA, Pima Community College SVA, and some folks from Florida A&M SVA, where we sang too loud to the music videos playing at the bar.
A great day. Tomorrow’s the last day.