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For me, a Phoenix represents rebirth and regeneration. A phoenix is something born from the ashes that rises and is engulfed in the beauty of grandeur and strength. All veterans, regardless of time in service, rank, or discharge changes once they leave the armed forces. The transformation from sailor, marine, airman or soldier to civilian is a hard transition to make. In a symbolic sense, one is reborn after their service. The nature of this transition pushes an individual to their limits. Many brothers and sisters have a very difficult time making this tough transition. What many seek is someone who is like them to help mentor them through this or a new troop to call home. Other individuals are not so lucky. They do not find their troop, and their light slowly fades away. What MVA is to me is a spark.

When I was transitioning out of the military, I did not have a troop. I felt like a tired, weary traveler trying to find an unknown destination. I was trying so hard to find what I have lost, my troop. When I found MVA, I found my road, and I found my light. For the first time since I left the military, I found people who respected ALL of me, not just certain identities of me. I felt like I could talk about all of my strife and struggles without having to censor myself. It was empowering. I felt like a phoenix rising from the ashes.

Everyone deserves a troop and a home; regardless of veteran, non-veteran, religion, sexual orientation, sex, gender, race, culture, everyone deserves that feeling of camaraderie. This is what MVA represents to so many people. This is what any group represents. Like all of us, MVA rose from the ashes to create change that includes us all.

~Loren Christopher Lacy served in the United States Navy as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate from 2012-2017. During that time, he completed four deployments and left the Navy as a Petty Officer Third Class. Loren now is attending the State College of Florida and he is working on his Associate in Arts degree and plans to transfer to the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

Loren is currently SCF’s Student Veterans of America Venice Chapter President along with as a FO for Minority Veterans of America. Loren is passionate about intersecting his LGBT identity as well as his veteran identity through conversation and understanding. Loren wants to help all veterans feel comfortable in the Veteran Community as well as their respected identity.

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