November 12, 2014
By Matt Colvin, Senior Associate, Strategic Partnerships, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) and Former USAF Staff Sergeant, Operation Enduring Freedom 2005, 2006
I grew up in a small town in Maryland and joined the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 11, 2001. Throughout my six years in the military, I deployed twice to Afghanistan flying nearly 100 combat missions coordinating raids and conducting communications jamming as well as providing counter Improvised Explosive Device support. These experiences taught me how to think on the fly in combat scenarios, manage personnel, relay information in real time to affect the outcome of a mission, and much more.
Even with all these skills and my specialized training, I still found that leaving the military was exponentially harder than joining. I floated for months from couch to couch trying to relive my military life with military friends all while wading through the guilt of leaving the mission. I had outgrown my civilian friends who didn’t fully know or understand the “new me.” This followed me for years in awkward conversations where I hid my military life from new acquaintances, and generally felt like I didn’t belong.
Then in 2010, I discovered an organization called Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) through a post on Facebook looking for a spokesperson. IAVA is the largest member-based organization serving this generation of veterans by providing them FREE resources to aid in their transition from combat to home and through the rest of their lives.
I quickly jumped on the opportunity, starting with IAVA as a volunteer, then as a fellow, and now running IAVA’s Strategic Partnerships department. My current job is to connect IAVA with companies that can help create better opportunities for this generation of veterans and their families. eBay helps to amplify our cause to its hundreds of millions of users by featuring IAVA in checkout, in auctions, and sweepstakes. We couldn’t ask for a better partner to help build awareness of our mission and drive funds to support our free transitional programs.
We believe that veterans have already paid their dues overseas and should be taken care of when they return. IAVA does just that. You can help by learning more about IAVA and saving IAVA as your favorite cause on eBay.