Veterans Day – Only in America

We live in the greatest country on the planet. Why? Because we were founded by strong-willed dreamers who were tired of persecution and being told by decree that they had to stay in the class they were born into for the rest of their days.

The U.S. was founded on the principals of freedom, opportunity and the rights of individuals. And over the years, these values and principals have been hard fought, more so than most of us can truly understand or comprehend. Many of us don’t know or don’t reflect enough on just how lucky we are and how sacred these values are to our core. Over the years, much blood, sweat and tears have been shed to protect this great land of ours.

And for those reasons and so many more, we salute the very people — our veterans — who risk the most and understand at the deepest level just how great the country really is and what it takes to keep it this way for the rest of us dreamers.

So tomorrow, Veterans Day 2015, is for you — our veterans and military families — dream keepers and flag bearers of this great nation.

We salute you.

Mariner Kemper


reStart Kansas City

UMB strives to honor veterans every day, but November 11 is the day that our country sets aside to recognize the men and women who have sacrificed for our freedom. We’re particularly excited about the work that an organization in Kansas City is doing right now. reStart was one of the 2015 UMB Big Bash beneficiaries, using the funds for the Supportive Services for Veteran Families (SSVF) program. UMB’s Veterans Engagement Taskforce (VET) is also involved with reStart’s veteran mentorship program.


“One of the biggest helps they were able to give me has been a mentor, and it’s been through their help that I’ve been able to have a better life today and a brighter future for tomorrow.”

Below, read more from one of the mentors, James Carlile, who is a financial analyst at UMB and also a veteran. He shares what compelled him to become a mentor and the results he’s seen from the program.

At one of our VET meetings, Robin Johnson, head of reStart’s SSVF, mentioned that she had several veteran clients in her program that were really wanting to turn the corner and make a sustainable transition away from the homelessness cycle and into self stability. What they needed, and what reStart’s limited staffing and resources could not always provide, was personal encouragement. Our VET group jumped all over this and began to work on a plan in which our additional contribution would be the love, guidance and support of UMB veteran associates.

Robert Durham - veteran and reStart clientI really had little idea what to expect when I initially met with Robert Durham. All I knew was that he wanted and needed someone who would take the time to listen, help him think through his issues and concerns, and offer encouragement and motivation in the face of very real and very persistent adversity. I could tell he genuinely wanted to improve himself, and he didn’t have anyone else to help him with a strategy on doing so. I was fortunate in my transition from the military to have a loving and supportive family that was there for me unconditionally through some very choppy times. Robert did not have that family support, and although I knew I could not solve his issues for him, I could provide him a level of consistency, positivity and encouragement.

Robert and I meet every six weeks at his subsidized one room efficiency apartment. We eat sandwiches, and talk intensely about how he is feeling, what he is working on, the status of his distant relationships with his family, and keeping him focused on his goals. I’ve learned just how difficult it is for those caught in the crisis cycle to make that change, even when the will is present and pure. Even though we do spend ample time discussing basic professional and life skills, our primary goal together is deliberate emotional support. Robert is currently working on his insurance licensing through the financial support of reStart. His ultimate goal through the vehicle of self sustainability is to mend his fractured relationship with his children and to be the father and example he knows he should be. My role in this is nothing compared to what Robert will have to overcome to get there, but whatever bit of guidance or encouragement I can impart on him I consider a humbling privilege when it impacts the outcome of his quality of life.


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