Written by Bonnie Silver of B.L. Silver & Associates:
This last week, I was fortunate enough to attend The Hero Summit in Washington D.C. on behalf of The Jonas Project. I really didn’t know what to expect but was quite impressed with the event. I was literally in a room of heroes and people that support heroes. I immediately felt honored to be at a table sitting between Navy SEAL, Wounded Warrior Hero, Author and Founder of Wounded Wear, Jason “Jay” Redman to my left and then to my right was Wounded Warrior Hero turned Inspirational Speaker, Justin Constantine. It was humbling to be amidst such amazing and beautiful souls.
The day started with Senator McCain. of notable political celebrity status. But it was Arnold Fisher of The Fisher House that stole the show. His organization has recently been providing death benefits for families of the fallen since the government shut down suspended those benefits. He captivated the audience with his honest and passionate opinion on the government shutdown. To share a brief synopsis, here are a few of his quotes, “Stop being a Democrat, stop being a Republican and start being an American,” in regards to our military he said “Take care of them because they took care of you.” And then during the break, I had the privilege to meet him one-on-one and he personally gave me another quote, “If we don’t support those that defend our country, there won’t be a country to defend.” This man is of the utmost integrity and is a huge supporter of our military and veterans.
It really seemed that each panel got better and better as the day progressed. The information and caliber of speakers was awe-inspiring. One panel had two OIF/OEF female combat veterans sharing their experience and information. One was Army medic, Kate Norley who is now working on her Physicians Assistant degree and the other was Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Congresswoman, 2nd District of Hawaii, who continues to serve as a Captain in the Hawaii Army National Guard’s 29th Brigade Combat Team. They were inspirational and represented us female veterans well.
By late afternoon, one would think I might be tired, considering I was severely jetlagged and up since 6:30am, but even after the delicious lunch, I never suffered from heavy eye lids, in fact, the program just continued to impress me.
I will share that one of my favorite contributors was 37 year Army veteran, LT. General Russel L. Honore’, as he was so down to earth and shared his beliefs, experience and opinions, from his heart. He had the audience laughing a few times with his crystal clear methodology of simple solutions in dealing with crisis situations. I was fortunate enough to be able to connect and talk with him afterwards and felt the power of his presence.
As the day went on, and we were given time to network, I found it so rewarding to meet amazing individuals, one after the other. This would drag on if I listed all of them but I will say it was great to reconnect with many people while networking and meeting others.
After the packed day of events, we were given the opportunity to go to another venue and get a special screening of the film Lone Survivor based on retired Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell’s book. It was an incredible movie and again, an honor to be in the presence of such heroism. After the screening, there was a conversation on stage, hosted by moderator Tina Brown, Editor in Chief of The Daily Beast, with Peter Berg, Writer/Director/Producer, Actor Taylor Kitsch and Retired Petty Officer 1st Class Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell. The conversation after the screening was just as poignant and moving as the film.
To sum it up, this was a life changing trip. It was a whirlwind, flying in Wednesday night, having a 14 hour day event and then flying home the next day but it wasn’t quantity, it was truly quality. I’m so grateful for Teri and John Kelsall, allowing me to go there as Capacity Builder on behalf of The Jonas Project. It was an honor and a joy to attend and be a part of such a historical event.