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Month: May 2017

33 years of service and still serving: meet veteran volunteer Jackie Case

Volunteer Spotlight: Jackie Case

With Memorial Day weekend coming up, we wanted to take the opportunity to spotlight one of our most dedicated veteran volunteers, Jackie Case. Her service to Veterans Without Orders not only keeps the ship afloat – she’s critical to our team successfully executing clean water missions in honor of fallen soldiers.

We asked Jackie to tell us about her military experience, her transition to civilian life, and why she cares so much about the water crisis.

Why did you decide to join the Army?

The way I decided to join the Army is somewhat of a blur…I moved to the U.S. from Jamaica in May 1981, my cousin was graduating from high school that summer and had already joined the Army. I would go with her when she checked in with her recruiter and somehow, I was recruited. I was young, brand new in the U.S…I had no clue! The next thing I knew I was on my way to basic training.

Where did you serve?

I enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve, so after completing basic training and advanced individual training at Ft. McClellan, AL, I reported to my Reserve unit in New Haven, CT. I later transferred to the 411rd Civil Affairs Battalion (CABN) in Danbury, CT, and was deployed to Southwest Asia for a time.

In 1999 I joined the 486th CABN in Broken Arrow, OK, and then went on to be stationed at Ft. Bragg, NC, Warwick/Newport, RI and finally Ft. Jackson, SC.

During my time being stationed at these different locations I had short periods of duty in Germany, South Africa and Belgium.

I deployed to Iraq in 2009-2010.

 That’s a lot of places! When did you retire?

I retired in February 2015.

What was the transition from military to civilian life like?

It is an understatement to say it was hard – really hard. I am still in transition after two years. I have spoken with retirees who have told me that it could take up to five years or more to fully transition.

I retired after a total of 33 years between the Army Reserve and Active duty. After twenty plus years on active duty living by military standards, knowing where I need to be, what is expected of me, what I will wear every day, basically having someone else control my life…i am now in the process of re-inventing myself, and it is a process.

I enjoyed my time in the service; I have no regrets, but there comes a time in all our lives when we have to leave the old cheese mines and look for new cheese somewhere else.

How did you get involved with Veterans Without Orders?

John, one of the founders, is a former supervisor from the 443th CABN in Rhode Island, so when I heard about VWO I immediately contacted him and asked how I could become involved in the mission.

What do you do for VWO?

My official title is Assistant Director; as such I assist where required in relation to overseeing day to day activities, strategic planning, establishing administrative policies and procedures etc. I’m also responsible for Knowledge management. Because VWO is an all volunteer organization in most cases it’s “all hands”, meaning everyone helps where needed regardless of title.

Why do you care about the water crisis?

I care about the water crisis because we are all affected or will be affected by it at some point in the near future.

The lack of clean water directly affects human health, especially in young children; it also contributes to lack of access to education for females, whose responsibility it is to get water for their family. Clean water is a basic need for survival; if I am able to help one person, one family then it is my duty to do so.

Those of us who are able to go into our homes and access clean water sometimes are not aware how fortunate we are. We, VWO members, have the training, the desire and the opportunity to help the less fortunate in developing countries, where the need to address the water crisis is the greatest.

What other veteran volunteering do you do?

As a veteran I volunteer with the Columbia, SC USO, which is not a veteran organization but it is an opportunity to continue my service to others.


If you want to learn more about the Carbonaro Mission: Guatemala, please visit our crowdfunding page.




A look into how we plan our international clean water missions

Carbonaro Clean Water Mission: Dispatch 2

Leading clean water missions into foreign countries requires coordination with outside stakeholders to identify locations, secure travel and lodging, and organize on-the-ground support. We asked our Veterans Without Orders team traveling to Guatemala this summer a few questions about the mission planning process.

Why did you choose Livingston, Guatemala for your mission?

Guatemala has the 2nd highest population growth rate next to Panama but the population is more affected by poverty.  Our goal is to assist future generations that have a chance of great economic opportunity but those generations can also be stifled by diseases from poor drinking water.  Our partnerships with other organizations drew us to Livingston as a rural, but safe area with support that is close to a variety of markets and transportation.

How did you find the guide that will be taking you to the villages “by foot and canoe”?

We were connected with our guide Gaby after we were recommended by another non-profit organization comprised of prior military medical professionals who have conducted aid missions in the region.

Tell us about who is traveling on this mission and what their role is on the trip?

The mission will be staffed by our director John Nonnemaker, a Civil Affairs officers with 18 years of military experience, our operations lead Noah Hodges, another civil affairs officer with experience in training and economics, and Jenny Laguna, a former service member who will serve as a trainer and translator.

Where will you be staying?

We will stay in small bungalows run by Gaby for travelers near the town of Livingston.

How many villages will you be traveling to?

We plan to travel to 2 villages and deliver at least 10 filters in each village which will support 30 families. But we can carry as many water filters as our crowdfunding campaign can raise.

How much time do you typically spend in each village? 

We will spend about 8 hours over two days for each village, getting the know the people, selecting trainers to assist in the training, conduct training and providing child support for the mothers.

Tell us about the villages – how many families live in each village? What is their current water source? 

The villages are small with less than 100 families. They carry the water from a long distance or they drink from the Rio Dulce and its tributaries.

Anything else you’ll be doing on your mission?

We will also supply hygiene supplies, glasses and WASH training for the people in these villages.


If you want to learn more about the Carbonaro Mission: Guatemala, please visit our crowdfunding page.




Guatemala has a water scarcity problem; this summer we’re going there to help

Carbonaro Clean Water Mission: Dispatch 1 

After careful deliberation, we are excited to announce that our Veterans Without Orders’ Mission Team has picked a location and date for our mission to Guatemala this summer.

We will be traveling to Livingston, Guatemala from July 27th – July 31st to bring Sawyer water filters and sanitation training to villages in the area. We have secured an in-country guide that will take us to these villages by foot and canoe. And we have begun coordinating with our local partners there on a multi-year plan to sustain our mission efforts after we leave.

If you are interested in donating to our mission, visit our Carbonaro Mission: Guatemala fundraising page.


Why we chose Guatemala

There are a few issues we took into consideration when selecting this country and region for our mission efforts. As an impoverished country with half of its citizens living below the poverty level, Guatemala has long suffered from “economic water scarcity”.

Economic water scarcity is caused by a lack of investment in water infrastructure. In these situations there may be ample water supply, but populations who cannot afford to use it cannot access it.

Over the past several years, severe droughts causing “physical water scarcity” have become a problem in Guatemala too. In 2015, BBC covered how Guatemala families struggle for food in Central American drought. More recently, journalist Lauren Markham wrote this insightful piece about how Drought And Climate Change Are Forcing Young Guatemalans To Flee To The U.S.

For many Guatemalans, the situation today is untenable. Drought has had a profound effect on food security and is compounded by contaminated water that causes GI diseases like diarrhea that wash away already scarce nutrients. Over half of children under five are suffering from chronic malnutrition. And the child mortality rate is the highest in Central America, owing in large part to water-related illness.

Over 1 million Guatemalans don’t have access to clean water and 6 million don’t have access to sanitation.

Empowered women can solve the water crisis

As with all of our missions, the Guatemala mission team deployed by Veterans Without Orders recognizes the capacity of local women as the solution to their community’s safe water needs. That’s why our programs are targeted specifically towards mothers of small children.

Our goal is to bring 30 clean water filters and sanitation training to the women living in small villages outside of Livingston, Guatemala. And the beauty of our mission model is that we can bring as many as our crowdfunding campaigns can raise.

Our mission honors Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro 

Every clean water mission we conduct is dedicated in the name of a military serviceman or woman who was killed in action during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. We believe that by doing this, we can honor each individual and allow their memory to live on through the gift of clean water to those most in need.

The Carbonaro Mission: Guatemala is dedicated to the memory of Sgt. Alessandro Carbonaro of Bethesda, MD.

If you want to learn more about the Carbonaro Mission: Guatemala, please visit our crowdfunding page.


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