Thank you for doing that. That is one of the best ways that our community identified early on in 2008. It was shortly after the scandals at Walter Reed, which were very apparent in the media, that former mayor White and county judge Ed Emmett got together and created the returning veterans initiative. That really answered a lot of questions, such as what we are doing for our veterans and how many veterans are in our community. Then we found out that we're the second largest. We needed to do something to be a lot more proactive in that transition from military to civilian life if we were going to invest in these civic assets.
I think that using local municipal elected officials probably creates the biggest mouthpiece possible when you're forming a backbone collaborative organization, because those individuals are able to bring so many stakeholders together and to give your organization a sense of credibility immediately, for both private and public funders.
For example, Mayor Sylvester Turner, who has been all over the media about the Hurricane Harvey relief, was here at our grand opening for the transition centre. He did a great job of articulating the need for investing in our veterans at the front end of their transition to Houston.
Originally, after transitioning from Congress, I worked on the mayor's staff for a number of years to establish the returning veterans initiative. Even though we ceilinged out very quickly in terms of what we could deliver in terms of programs and services, that beacon, that awareness that the mayor's office brought, that credibility, was very impactful.