A broken pipe spewing sewage through a village. A drought that has dried up a region’s water supply. A contaminated water source sickening and killing young children.
As civil affairs soldiers, these are the types of scenarios we’ve spent our careers training for. And by serving in the branch of the military responsible for humanitarian aid operations, we’ve traveled the globe experiencing firsthand the devastating consequences of our ongoing global water crisis.
Through our service, we’ve worked worldwide with regional partners and local citizens to help rebuild communities after disaster and conflict. But we came to understand that without access to clean water, none of our mission objectives could be met. Roads could not get paved. Schools could not get built. And communities certainly could not return to health and prosperity.
These are images that are forever burned into our memory. Children who were too sick to attend school. Women who often walked up to 6 hours a day to find water. Infrastructure that was hobbled by poverty and water supplies that were decimated by climate change. The causes of our global water crisis are wide-ranging and differ from region to region. But the effects are always the same.
Individuals cannot thrive. Societies cannot prosper. And overall, it makes the world a lot less safe.
During active duty, we saw time and time again that access to clean water played a central role in many of the conflict and refugee situations that we faced. As veterans, we have become committed to solving the global water crisis because we believe doing so can mitigate so many other risks that our world currently faces.
Our goal as Veterans Without Orders is to serve as the “tip of the spear” for combatting the global water crisis. We have identified home-based water filtration as the solution through which we can have the most immediate impact. On our clean water missions, we carry as many clean water filters as our crowdfunding campaigns can raise. These easy-to-implement and cost-effective filters can produce over 1 million gallons of clean water. That’s enough to sustain 3 families for up to 10 years.
By partnering on-the-ground with local aid organizations, we travel as veteran-led teams to communities anywhere in the world that are suffering from water crisis. We put clean water filters directly in the hands of these who need them most. And we provide training and education to local women, who become active stewards of clean water for their communities.
We have seen with our own eyes the benefits of simple water filtration. Individuals can become healthy. People begin to feel empowered. And communities begin to work together to develop sustainable solutions for their water issues. And that makes for a more peaceful world.
This is the work we spent our military careers performing. It is our passion, and as veterans, it is our cause.