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Meet The Staff Series: Bob Graham
Caitlin Steinberg, staff writer
Within the past year, Bob Graham, regional manager of the Sarasota, FL office, has become one of Veterans’ Outreach’s favorite champions.
Having established the plans for the Sarasota office months in advance, Graham’s work for the VO has only just begun and we couldn’t be more pleased to have him among our arsenal. Whether his duties include scouting for new office space or fundraising across SW Florida, Graham manages assignments, training, and other important duties on the daily.
His path to Veterans’ Outreach, like many vets, was long and winding- leading him to over 96 countries around the world and finally to sunny Florida.
“I had left the snowy, cold Northeast after a corporate career… for Florida,” Graham said. After responding to an ad in the local newspaper for a Veterans’ Outreach fundraiser, Graham made the transition from “for profit” to “not for profit” with the VO in May of 2011. Since then, Graham has assisted in restoring the reputation of veteran non-profits, greatly improved the VO’s revenue stream in the SW Florida area, and garnered a large amount of local respect and admiration.
Why do you work for veterans’ rights?
“I am passionate about the cause of the needy veterans, which I regard as a national disgrace,” Graham said. “Having lived in France, England, and Germany, where veterans are well taken care of, I see so much more than can be done for them. I am a veteran of the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps but I’ve been lucky- never homeless or foodless, could pay my utility bills- but every day that I’m out there doing sidewalk solicitation I see so many who are down on their luck.”
Memorable Moments of Service
“...I hear all kinda of stories- the guy on the Harley who came up and said he had 973 days in a Viet Cong prison, the guy who said he was the first Navy Seal, the elderly woman who came up and said she was so proud… her daughter had invited her up to Washington D.C. to see her get her generals stars,” recounts Graham.
With so many years in the service, traveling, and working with different people, it’s no wonder Graham personally knows countless stories of courage, compassion, and daring among soldiers, one of which begins with a soldier saying, “you don’t know fear until you’ve been on night patrol in the jungle in Vietnam.”
It is these stories, the one on one connections which Graham has fostered over the years, that makes him an invaluable part of Veterans’ Outreach’s team with whom we look forward to years of priceless work.
What do you see in Veterans’ Outreach’s future?
“The sky is the limit!”
“Florida is the most populated state that Veterans’ Outreach is in, #4 in the country, and more importantly, has the largest number of veterans of any state except for California,” Graham excitedly said.
“Much has to be done to get known and lay a solid bases of revenue stream so that we can meet the needs of the needy.”
Thus far, the month of March has been very busy in Florida. Between moving furniture, hanging a fresh VO sign, and successfully establishing the Sarasota office, Graham and other volunteers have their hands full!
We’re look forward to exciting things from Graham and our dedicated staff in Sarasota, FL. There’s some good to be done for veterans’ across the nation and Bob Graham is helping Veterans’ Outreach begin their work in the sunshine state.
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