Good afternoon, everyone. I am Gonzalo Duran, the Chief Executive Officer of Devil Dog USA Incorporated.
Ten years ago, our journey began with a commitment to address student veteran homelessness. Over time, we evolved into an organization dedicated to aiding veterans in their community reintegration, with the invaluable support of our communities.
As we elevated the issue of student veteran homelessness to a national platform, we recognized that it was not a solitary problem. To effect real change, we required the collaboration of the very communities we served.
This led to the inception of programs like our recreational initiatives, which encompass golfing, scuba diving, and camping. This year marks the ninth year of our golf program and the sixth year of our cable talk show, a platform where organizations and individuals share resources for both veterans and the general populace.
Our offices serve as a central resource hub for our community, offering referral services, event space, and various other functions. Notably, we take great pride in our partnership with the Bronx Veteran Chamber of Commerce, empowering emerging organizations with fiscal sponsorship, grant writing support, and operational resources.
Our work with the Bronx Veteran Coalition has facilitated the alignment of diverse organizations that might not typically engage, enabling them to discover common ground. This, in turn, has enhanced collective productivity and mission fulfillment. Our initiatives involve pairing active-duty military personnel with Junior ROTC, enlisting American Legions to serve as honor guards for families unable to provide military services for their loved ones, and organizing classroom discussions where children, teenagers, and veterans can exchange their perspectives.
Our collaboration with the Bronx Veteran Political Party has amplified our efforts to educate veterans about running for elected positions and increasing voter registration.
Through our work with the Bronx Veteran Documentary project, we’ve captured the stories of local veterans, facilitated businesses in enhancing their digital presence, and provided cherished digital family portraits to families in shelters.
Despite the pandemic’s challenges, the demand for our programs never wavered. As restrictions eased, we found ourselves with more work than ever, prompting the opening of a second office next month, which will serve as a community center.
This center embodies our commitment to fostering unity among the general population, veterans, and military members as one cohesive community.
In closing, I would like to express my gratitude to the New York State Department of Veterans Services for inviting me to speak. Just as we unveil this welcome kiosk today, I eagerly anticipate welcoming all veterans to New York City. Thank you.