Applications for our Veterans Organizing Institute, scheduled for November 2-5, 2017, are now closed. The VOI is for progressive veterans involved in social change, or who are looking to get involved. Stay tuned for our Spring 2018 training.

Apply here:

Applications are now closed. Stay tuned for our Spring 2018 training.

Participants of 2016 Veterans Organizing Institute in Lancaster, PA.

Veterans Organizing Institute

Thursday, November 2nd – Sunday, November 5th, 2017
The Watershed Center, Millerton, NY

Do you know veterans who would be interested in the VOI? Please help us to spread the word.

We are currently accepting applications for our 2017 Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI), a three day leadership retreat for veterans currently involved in progressive social movements — or who are looking to get involved.

We are living in a moment of unprecedented political flux with growing instability both at home and abroad. Our communities are increasingly under attack both from established political forces and rising right-wing extremists. Yet this is also a moment of tremendous opportunity as growing powerful social movements have created a new wave of civic engagement. Against this backdrop, we believe veterans leadership and action has never been more important.

The VOI will provide training on:

  • Veterans and social change – understanding the unique role of former service members in past and current social justice efforts.
  • Messaging and narrative strategy – how to craft and deliver resonant messages to reach your intended audience.
  • Media and speaking skills – preparing to present your message to multiple audiences and the news media.
  • Grassroots organizing skills – identifying issues, designing strategic campaigns, and selecting winning tactics
  • Political analysis – understanding the social, economic, political, and historical forces that have led to the current political moment.

Our training team comes to this work with extensive organizing experience from a broad range of social movements including racial justice, immigrant rights, labor, LGBTQ rights, and environmental justice, as well as peace and security. Last year, we trained over 60 veterans on how to effectively hold elected officials and decision-makers accountable and counter hateful rhetoric. These veterans engaged with candidates and politicians, asking tough questions on a variety of important social issues.

The VOI is closely connected with on-the-ground campaign work. In 2016, the Institute played a key role in launching and shaping the #VetsVsHate movement, which powerfully demonstrated the impact that veterans can have on the national stage.

We are committed to creating training opportunities for veterans who represent impacted communities, including women, people of color, indigenous, LGBTQ, and disabled veterans.

Apply now via the application form below. We offer a sliding scale for registration fees.

Funds for travel are limited, so be sure to submit your application before the August 15th deadline. Applications are now closed.

You will need to have Proof of Service to complete the application form. Acceptable forms of proof include a DD-214, military or veteran ID card, military orders or awards. If you have a question about this requirement, please email

Space is limited! Not everyone who applies will be selected for the training. Decisions will be based on the following criteria:

  • Valid proof of service
  • A demonstrated commitment to social justice and active engagement after the training
  • Diversity of the applicant pool

We will respond to applicants on a rolling basis. You will be contacted after submitting the application by a member of our facilitation team.

Please note: After you submit the application form you will see a “Thank You” page and receive a confirmation email. If you don’t see both of those, we did not receive your submission. Unfortunately, you will need to resubmit.

The Veterans Organizing Institute is a program of Beyond the Choir. We partner with social justice organizations to craft resonant messaging, plan strategic campaigns, and mobilize larger bases of support. Our name captures the core of our mission: in order to build movements capable of winning real change, we need to do more than just “preach to the choir.”

A joint website of Beyond the Choir and Common Defense / Beyond the Choir Action Fund.

Beyond the Choir is a 501(c)(4) organization which primarily focuses on nonpartisan education and advocacy on important social issues. Common Defense / Beyond the Choir Action Fund is a federal political committee which primarily focuses on electoral races. Beyond the Choir and Common Defense / Beyond the Choir Action Fund are separate organizations.

Paid for in part by Common Defense / Beyond the Choir Action Fund. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.