A New Chapter

With a Note of Thanks…

It is with a bit of sadness that I’m announcing my resignation from the board of executive directors at T6B effective immediately. Choosing to step down now is something I do very reluctantly, but circumstances dictate necessity.

In May of 2010, I met some of the greatest people I have ever known for lunch at a Don Pablo’s in Owings Mills. I was surrounded by three enthusiastic veterans who had this abstract idea and wanted me to join them in “making it happen.” By the end of the meeting, I still didn’t know what “it” was, but I knew I had to join them.

It took a year of trial and error for The 6th Branch to find its purpose and I have to admit that right up until Operation Oliver kicked off in October of 2011, I wasn’t sure T6B was going to make it.

But it did. It thrived. And with it, so did the network of friends and volunteers I’ve come to know as family – my T6B family.

I was kicked out the Navy after coming out as gay in 2007. I left a bit bitter because I felt forced to come out for my own safety, and I shunned the label of veteran.

Rich Blake, Brian McDonald and Dennis Robinson changed that. Bringing me into the organization, they’ve never judged me for that decision or made a big deal of it. They simply accepted me as a teammate and we all worked together, as veterans, to make a difference.

I finally felt comfortable enough to wear that label with pride.

My friendship with Rich has meant a great deal to me. He pours everything he has into life, and into the goal of paving a path for those who follow so the road is easier to travel. Without his support, there are risks I might not have taken; without his stubbornness, there are professional lessons I might not have learned.

Operation Oliver, with Earl Johnson as my first impression of the neighborhood, has planted a flag firmly in my heart and I am forever changed because of my experiences there. Earl’s heart and dedication in the face of ever-changing but ever-constant obstacles is something I deeply admire. The progress in the neighborhood is amazing and only just beginning. There are so many more good things to come for Oliver and I know that it will serve as a template and an example for other veterans and citizens to take back their own communities.

Part of that success is owed directly to Dave Landymore. When Dave took over as E.D., my gut told me things were going to continue to take off. He has something indescribable in his character that impresses upon you his ability to lead. He is exactly what an engaged veteran volunteer should be and everything this organization could possibly have hoped for when choosing someone who leads by example.

For my own part, being added to the Board was one of the greatest days of my life and something I will forever be thankful for, in addition to meeting the countless people who have crossed my path as volunteers with T6B.

The current board is evidence of the passion that T6B brings out in people. Diva, Noah, Patrick, Abby, John and Nick are all incredibly dedicated to the work that’s being done and to guaranteeing that the T6B model of “making it happen” will continue. I’m proud to call them friends.

Maybe sometime in the future I will have an opportunity to return to the org as a leader and once again be a part of the team, but even if that never happens, this will have been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

There is no doubt I’ll continue to stop in every once in a while to lend a hand at events and keep a toe in the water, but this part of my T6B journey is done.

I leave you with a favorite quote, one I think reflects the spirit of T6B…

“Freedom lies in being bold.”
– Robert Frost

Warmest Regards,
Jeremy

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