November 19, 2018Chris Ford
Friends and colleagues,
Nearly six years ago I started a new role on the Joint Staff supporting veterans and military families. Working in the Chairman’s Office of Warrior and Family Support aligned my passion for Gold Star families with my vocation and gave me unparalleled insights into thousands of organizations and agencies across the country that support our military community in a wide variety of ways.
It was during this time that I quickly saw the need to build an association to support these amazingly passionate organizations so they could serve veterans better.
This pivotal career opportunity changed everything for me. Instead of continuing my Air Force career, I retired early and set off on a journey to create the National Association of Veteran-Serving Organizations, NAVSO.
From that first nine-page business plan, I never imagined that NAVSO would grow so quickly and have such a deep impact on so many professionals serving veterans and military families.
Since day one, we’ve helped our members find funding faster and serve veterans better. We’ve helped organizations of all shapes and sizes win grants ranging from one-time $5,000 checks to multi-year grants of nearly a million dollars. We’ve taught members best practices and helped them build capacity. We’ve helped them grow, expand, and revise their missions or narrow their focus. We’ve also helped funders get a better return on their investments and helped hundreds of employers hire and retain veterans as workforce talent.
I'm humbled to see the mission of NAVSO resonate with tens of thousands of professionals in the U.S. and more recently, in the UK. Together we've changed lives. The numbers don’t lie. More than 25,000 professionals representing more than 3,000 organizations and agencies in just about every city in the nation collectively serving hundreds of thousands if not millions of veterans each year access our services.
I’m so proud of what we've accomplished together over the past few years through NAVSO, but at my core I am passionate about finding innovative ways to help people heal, and live their lives to the fullest.
Thanks to our incredible staff and high-quality programs, NAVSO has never been better positioned to lead the charge for veteran services. We’re working tirelessly on solutions relating to service dogs, veteran underemployment and most recently, suicide. It’s the latter that has drawn me deeply into reflecting on my own purpose. What could be more compelling than saving the lives of those who’ve served our great nation?
That’s why I recently informed our board of my plans to step away from my day-to-day role as CEO of NAVSO to take on a new challenge as the Executive Director of Stop Soldier Suicide effective January 1, 2019. You can watch this short video which explains my decision and our upcoming transition plans.
I am 100% confident that NAVSO will continue to expand and improve under the guidance of a new CEO. I'm devoted to ensuring a smooth transition over the next few months and working side-by-side with the new CEO once he or she is identified. During this period, I will also assume a new role as board member to ensure NAVSO doesn’t skip a beat as we continue to execute our mission, advance our grant agendas and meet our contractual obligations.
I'm so proud of the work we've done together and look forward to seeing NAVSO continue to grow as we all seek to serve veterans better.
Do good. Be great.
Founder and CEO