Veterans’ new fight: reviving inner city America
The Christian Science Monitor By: Mary Wiltenburg
May 27, 2012 – Baltimore, Maryland
ABELL SALUTES: Bridge Private Lending,for its role in helping to
revive city neighborhoods…
Operation Oliver aims to fix up one of the city’s seediest neighborhoods.
By Luke Broadwater, The Baltimore Sun, LaTimes.com
December 25, 2011
Operation Oliver 5k and 1 Mile Walk
via: what weekly
September 21, 2011
article and photography: BR McDonald
Baltimore is the safest city I’ve lived in for the last 10 years.” That is my first response to anyone who cites crime, drugs, and a failing city when questioning my decision to engage under-served neighborhoods in Baltimore City. To be fair, the other cities include Kandahar, Baghdad, Peshawar, and Islamabad (just to name a few), and represent 7 years in the Army, 3 years as an Intelligence Consultant, and 7 combat deployments.
As a veteran, I have been fighting a war since 9/11 that has taken my skills as a linguist, intelligence professional, and special operator to communities and neighborhoods on the other side of the world. Yet, I return after every trip to see the city I live in needing the same attention and care I spent the last decade giving to people I will probably never see again.
Why do people thank me for my service? I understand why people say it, and I appreciate the intent because I, too, am very proud of my time in the Army. However, what I want them to ask is, “What are you doing to continue to serve?” Most veterans will say of their service that they wanted to be a part of something larger than themselves. I know that was definitely the case in my decision to step away from being an actor/singer and become an Arabic linguist. That mindset doesn’t just end after you “get out” of the military. There is often the stigma associated with veterans returning from combat that we all suffer from some form of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or we don’t have the tools necessary to properly reintegrate back into society. Not only is that not true for the majority of veterans, but it also doesn’t acknowledge the tremendous skill set which can be applied to our communities back home.
I moved to Baltimore City because I saw potential amidst the reputation that it could never overcome its stigma as a second-class city. As a veteran, I fight every day to confront the misunderstandings associated with [read more at what weekly]