The Role of Veteran-Serving Nonprofits
Then, Now, and into the Future
Photo by SPC Adeline Witherspoon, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade/U.S. Army
Thursday, March 16
4–5 p.m. EDT
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Join the RAND Epstein Family Veterans Policy Research Institute and Georgetown University Medical Center’s Joel Kupersmith for a discussion about the future of veteran-serving nonprofits featuring representatives from long-established institutions and relative newcomers to the community of veteran-serving organizations, as well as the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the end of the draft and the beginning of the all-volunteer force era. Since 1973, the nation’s military and its veterans have become more diverse. At the same time, there have been dramatic changes in how Americans communicate and connect with one another. With today’s smaller military, the U.S. veteran population is also shrinking, prompting concerns about how the organizations that support them will maintain both their funding and their relevance. Our panelists will discuss how veteran-serving nonprofits are adapting to changes in the populations they serve and the political and social climate in which they operate.
Joel Kupersmith is a cardiologist and professor of medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center, where he directs a unit dedicated to military veterans’ issues. He has lectured and published widely, most recently on veterans of the all-volunteer force. From 2005 to 2013, Kupersmith was the longest-tenured director of VA’s vast medical research program. In that role, he oversaw the launch of the Million Veteran Program, now the world’s largest health system genetic repository. Other accomplishments under his transformational leadership included numerous pioneering VA research projects, the development of new research methods, long-needed research infrastructure improvements, and first-time collaborative efforts with the U.S. Department of Defense and others. Kupersmith, who received his M.D. from New York Medical College, is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and has been a member of the National Institute of Health’s Council for Translational Science and the White House Council of Science.
Jeremy Butler is the CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), where he has worked in various roles since 2015. Under his leadership, the organization advocated for the successful passage of the PACT Act, which extends care and benefits to veterans affected by toxic exposures, among other legislative victories to improve services and support for post-9/11 veterans. Prior to joining IAVA, Butler worked for a Washington, D.C.–based government contractor supporting the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Joint Staff, and the U.S. Department of the Navy. He is a 20-year U.S. Navy reservist who previously served on active duty as a surface warfare officer. Butler has a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the U.S. Naval War College.
Lindsay Church is the executive director and co-founder of Minority Veterans of America, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to creating an equitable and just world for the minority veteran community—veterans of color, women, LGBTQ, and (non)religious minorities. Church has nearly a decade of experience in veterans’ advocacy and grassroots organizing, as well as facilitating agency-wide cultural competency trainings and assessments. Church is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, where they served as a cryptologic technician interpretive. Church was previously the assistant director and co-founder of Student Veteran Life at the University of Washington, where they received an M.A. in international studies with a focus on international conflict and countering extremism. They also served as LGBTQ commissioner for the City of Seattle and co-chair of Rep. Suzan DelBene’s (WA-1) Veterans Advisory Council.
Jennifer Hunt is the veteran service organizations liaison in the Veterans Health Administration. She oversees relationship management, communications, and event management involving a wide array of traditional and nontraditional organizations. Her tenure at VA has also included roles supporting the Assistant Under Secretary of Health for Community Care (now Integrated Veterans Care) and problem solving payment requests for authorized community care health services. Hunt is a decorated combat veteran who served for 21 years as a civil affairs specialist in the U.S. Army Reserves. Her story of service was included in the 2021 collection Out of the Shadows: Voices of American Women Soldiers, by Ron Farina. She was also named a Foreign Policy Global Thinker by Foreign Policy magazine for her work to end the combat exclusion policy.
Chanin Nuntavong is the executive director of government affairs at The American Legion’s national headquarters. In that role, he oversees the delivery of benefits to U.S. veterans, supports the Legion’s commissions and committees, and serves as the Legion’s liaison to the President of the United States and other executive and legislative offices, as well as organizations engaged in veterans’ issues. Nuntavong is a retired U.S. Marine Corps gunnery sergeant with more than 22 years of service, including as a combat correspondent in public affairs. He served at the Pentagon as the official spokesperson and staff adviser to three Marine Corps sergeants major and received multiple commendations. He is currently studying executive leadership at Cornell University. Nuntavong is a representative member of VA’s Special Medical Advisory Group and was on the executive board of The Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program.
Kayla M. Williams is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Her focus areas include optimizing policies and programs to support veterans and military personnel. She was most recently Assistant Secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where she directed a team of nearly 80 employees who communicated VA policies and initiatives through diverse channels. She has served on the Department of Labor Advisory Committee on Veterans’ Employment, Training, and Employer Outreach and the VA Advisory Committee on Women Veterans, among others. Williams was an Arabic linguist in the U.S. Army and is the author of two memoirs about her experiences during and after deploying to Iraq. She has an M.A. in international affairs from American University.