By Janna Reynolds

It’s hard to believe my internship with Veterans Leadership Program has come to an end. I applied for the public relations internship to get experience before graduation, and because I fully support VLP’s mission to assist our returning service members. I almost felt like the internship position was created just for me, so I took a chance and sent in my application documents. I had no idea I would benefit so much from the opportunity I was given.

Many people in my life have served in the United States military, which was one reason interning with VLP appealed to me. My dad is a veteran of the Air Force, my grandpa was an Army medic in WWII, my mom’s brothers retired from the Navy, my dad’s brother is a Vietnam Veteran and my friend was deployed with the Marines in Operation Enduring Freedom. Several of my cousins have served in the Navy, another recently enlisted in the Army and my best friend is stationed at Naval Station Mayport. The opportunity to work with an organization that helps people like my loved ones has been absolutely awesome.

My goal of gaining experience before graduation was accomplished and improved upon each week. I worked with Robin, the Director of Public Relations, on VLP’s social media, press releases and various projects as they were needed. I wrote most of the February newsletter and contributed a few articles to the April and May issues, too. I even got to create VLP thank you cards that are now used by several people in the office!

It was cool to be included in conversations about VLP’s upcoming events and updating some of our outreach material. Robin made sure I was happy with my projects and gave me great tips on working in the public relations field that will be helpful as I enter the workforce. She has been a great mentor throughout my internship.

My favorite part of working with VLP this semester has been talking with veterans and seeing firsthand how much of a difference VLP truly makes in so many lives. I visited a women’s health fair at the VA in March and was so humbled by the numerous men and women who approached VLP’s table just to say thank you and ask after the staff members who helped them. I knew VLP assists thousands of veterans each year in various ways, but seeing the result of the programs firsthand was indescribable.

Although I’m disappointed to see my internship come to an end, I’m very excited to take my experiences with me. I recently interviewed a VLP team member who celebrated his 17th anniversary. He told me that the satisfaction he feels after helping veterans has kept him at VLP and that he hopes I have the chance to help others when I find my career. This internship has taught me that serving others, even through public relations, is something I am interested in pursuing. I am leaving VLP with great pieces for my portfolio and even better memories.

Thank you VLP for an amazing semester!