BUFFALO — Over the weekend, Common Defense, the nation’s largest grassroots veterans’ organization, wrapped up the most recent installment of their flagship training program in Upstate New York. The Veterans Organizing Institute (VOI) brought together veterans and labor organizers in the Empire State to engage, mobilize and develop leadership skills with an emphasis on climate action and creating a just and clean economy.
VOI is led by organizer, Air Force veteran, and Common Defense Training Director, Janice Jamison. Additionally, Common Defense was proud to partner with BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition that unites labor unions and environmental organizations to address the climate crisis, as part of their role as veterans to bridge the labor and environmental movements. In partnership with Buffalo-based organizations Black Love Resists In the Rust and Clean Air Coalition of Western New York, Common Defense brought an immersive experience to the participants of VOI. All efforts were in support of the broader goal of this Veterans Organizing Institute: engage veterans and connect climate with the other issues impacting their communities.
This Climate Action VOI coincides with the launch of Common Defense’s new Climate Program, Vets for Climate Justice. Vets for Climate Justice will push for comprehensive, bold climate action on the federal, state, and local level.
Common Defense Climate Justice Director Perry O’Brien: “As veterans, we’ve seen the climate crisis firsthand. Our members have fought in wars waged over fossil fuels, and we’ve served on the frontlines of hurricanes, wildfires, and heat waves. We have suffered from exposure to burn pits, forever plastics, and Agent Orange. And too many of us have returned home only to find our communities subjected to poison and pollution, economic exploitation, and environmental destruction. Everyone will be affected by these intertwined crises, but the impacts are not equal. We must take comprehensive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a clean energy economy. This is only possible by reckoning with economic and racial disparities, and reassessing our national priorities, including our bloated defense budget.”
Common Defense is organizing and training a diverse cadre of veterans across the country who are on the frontlines of the climate crisis, and mobilizing these members to build political will and create sustained, strategic pressure on decision makers.
Common Defense will continue to engage with veterans across the country in preparation for the upcoming midterms and in support of bold action to address the climate crisis. To learn more about these efforts, please reach out to Common Defense Communications Director Jacob Thomas at [email protected].