Operation Free in Washington, DC.
This past week I attended the launch of Operation Free along with 150 veterans in DC. I wasn't sure what I was getting myself into but I soon found myself at George Washington University being trained on everything from what Operation Free is about, how to smile, sit, speak, and create my own personal story to connect with the people I would be speaking to. Long story short, Operation Free wants the Waxman and Markey Bill passed. Waxman and Markey will create clean energy jobs, help end our dependence on foreign oil, and combat global warming. Sounded good, I was in. A few hours into training, we were broken up by states and began to craft our personal stories based on four questions: Who am I? What's a quick story from my military service? Why do I care and why am I here? What do I want? My buddy was a West Point graduate who deployed to Iraq as a tank commander. He had a great story, it took his tanks seven gallons of gas just to start up!...I had shit, so I fake ate my lunch to avoid having to pull something out of my ass. After lunch we headed to the White House. We marched along those DC streets proud! We were going the White House! We thought, maybe the President would grace us with his presence. He loves veterans and clean energy, why wouldn't he come say hello?
We soon realized how far off we were.
After getting through the security check point, we walked about 50 yards and took a left into the Dwight Eisenhower Executive Building. This was not the White House. I couldn't even see the White House. President Obama was no where in sight. However, Senator John Warner took the stage and spoke about his days in the Navy and being a Marine. He words seemed to touch everyone in the audience regardless of their political affiliation...he got a standing ovation. After our "White House" visit, my group of 11 headed to the offices of Senator George Voinovich and Senator Sherrod Brown. We were herded into a conference room. Voinovich's people were nice enough to throw some guy into the room who hadn't a clue why we were there. Voinovich’s people wised up and put another guy in the room who seemed to know more on the subject. We talked, they talked, we made our points, they made theirs...insert political bullshit, the end. Brown's people were a little more on point. They were looking forward to our visit...hell, they want the bill passed! We shared our stories with Joseph Schultz, Legislative Assistant, who had to cut the meeting a short but reassured us Brown was on board. That was it. My first day of lobbying was over. Got on a flight and headed back to Albany. Woke up the next morning, went to classes, picked up a dress for a wedding on Saturday, danced to a few slow songs, decided I never want a traditional wedding, and went to sleep.
Some of the highlights from DC:
1) Learning how to smile. You need your smile to come across warm but strong.
2) Meeting the VetVoice guys. Can’t say enough good things about them. Intelligent, funny, driven, down to have a good time, and always willing to help you out.
3) Hanging out with a few women veterans. It’s always a pleasure and there’s no petty bullshit.
Waxman and Markey Bill information.
White House visit: