The next Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) training is scheduled for June 2019. The application form will be posted in early January.

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Veterans Organizing Institute

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

The Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) is a nonpartisan, progressive training program and alumni network. We hold multiple training retreats each year, where we teach cohorts of 30-40 veterans from around the country the skills to be grassroots organizers within their community. Alumni become part of our thriving network of hundreds of veteran organizers, and gain access to advanced training webinars.

What is organizing?
Organizing means taking our democracy into our own hands – not leaving politics and policy to the politicians. Organizing means working together as an ever-growing team, collaborating with like-minded fellow veterans to build a movement of regular people that will win real change and immediate solutions to the problems we face in our lives.

Why veterans?
Everyone from big corporations to politicians (from both parties) love to use veterans as political props, but too few people in charge care what we actually think. We have the power to change that. Our stories are powerful, and veterans are the most trusted group of people in our society. It’s time we stop letting others use us, and take charge of our own stories.

We are living in a moment of unprecedented political instability and division, both at home and abroad. We have been harmed by the neglect of an out-of-touch political class and the attacks of rising right-wing extremist movements. Yet this is also a moment of tremendous opportunity as growing powerful social movements have created a new wave of civic engagement, reclaiming our institutions from the bottom-up. Against this backdrop, we believe veterans can show leadership and take action, just like previous generations of veterans have in past. Stepping up to continue our service has never been more important.

The VOI provides 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, and overcome polarization and ideological divides.
  • 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  experience from across a broad range of movements and praxis, as strategists, movement educators, academics, facilitators, and on-the-ground organizers in domestic and international issues.

We are committed to creating training opportunities for all veterans, especially those who represent directly impacted communities, including women, people of color, Indigenous, Muslim, LGBTQ+, and disabled veterans. Our trainings are unlike nearly any other veteran space in that they reflect the full diversity of progressive veterans.

We offer a sliding scale of registration fees. We are committed that no veteran will be unable to attend VOI due to financial need. Housing, meals, and childcare are all covered, and scholarships are available to fund transportation costs. Funds for travel are limited, so be sure to submit your application early if you plan to request support.

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, official military orders or awards. If you have a question about this requirement, please email voi@beyondthechoir.org.

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 progressive organizing 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.”