Serving My Community: Service in Homeland Security

By Andy Jabbour

In establishing Gate 15, one area I hoped to develop was the idea of service. As a veteran, I was used to the joys and satisfaction I would attain when I felt like I was contributing to something bigger than myself. Whether leading a unit, training for combat operations, or serving in one of my several deployments, the feeling of leading and serving is rather unique, and hugely rewarding. When one leaves the service, there are a lot of things to be missed. Benjamin Sledge address some aspects of that in an insightful post on Medium many may find helpful in understanding some of what a veteran goes through: “Sometimes, I Miss War,” 31 Jan 2019.

Trying to develop the idea of service, our website notes, “To support our goal of fostering an open, healthy work environment for our team members and contributing to the communities in which we live, we encourage all team members to commit to a spirit of giving and volunteerism. To that end, when possible, Gate 15 supports a paid week of charitable service, be it in a military Reserve or National Guard unit, mission work, community service, or some other charitable cause that individuals select.”

We’ve struggled in making this effective over the years but with new leadership, we’ve been able to apply a more effective and consistent approach. For some of my teammates, that has included serving in the military reserve and volunteering at faith-based organizations. I’ve served a few ways, including conducting wellness workshops at veterans’ centers and serving in a local food pantry. More recently, I’ve elected to serve by giving back to the homeland security community in which Gate 15 operates. The last few years I’ve had the opportunity to volunteer to two organizations I’m very proud and appreciative to contribute to.

Since the summer of 2017 I’ve served on the Board of Directors for my local InfraGard chapter, the InfraGard National Capital Region Members Alliance, or InfraGardNCR. “lnfraGard is a non-profit organization serving as a public-private partnership among U.S. businesses, individuals involved in the protection and resilience of U.S. critical infrastructures, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.” In that capacity, I’ve led a few special events, including this year’s Information Sharing Initiative (ISI) in Washington, D.C. I also coordinate and contribute to the Board’s blog, “Vantage Point,” (and wrote this month’s post: “Vantage Point: Life is not a spectator sport – and neither is InfraGard!”) and just attended the InfraGard National Congress (discussed in the aforementioned post). I’m glad to contribute to InfraGard, but, as I wrote in the Vantage Point post, in reality, “the more I give, the more I get back.” That applies to InfraGard, and it also applies to another volunteer effort I’m grateful to support.

Andy Jabbour at AVSS

Shortly after joining the InfraGardNCR Board, I also was asked and gladly accepted joining the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) Venue Safety and Security Committee and the Academy for Venue Safety & Security (AVSS). In these roles, I have the opportunity to contribute to a Sector, Commercial Facilities, I care about and closely work with, but also relish greatly in my personal life – being a huge fan of live music, sports events, and other performances, not to mention many of the other subsectors we all enjoy, from malls to movies, offices to theme parks. For IAVM, I support the Committee and annually help prepare for and conduct AVSS, “a dynamic, two-year school built to train venue and event managers, security professionals, and other key personnel involved in every aspect of venue safety and security. The curriculum, developed and taught by a diverse team of experts, is designed to equip each and every attendee with the best practices, resources, and tools needed to face the evolving challenge of providing a safe venue for everyone.” What an awesome mission! And as I walk into a football game or concert, I take great pleasure in thinking that maybe I’ve helped contribute just a little something to make that event safer, more secure, more ready should something go wrong.

Andy Jabbour and Mark Herrera

These activities directly benefit from my day-to-day work experience, but also provide me a volunteer outlet and positive way to contribute time and energy to give back to communities I deeply care about and hope to serve. Giving – serving – can come in many forms. As we encourage team members to find anything that will fulfill their spirit and give them a healthy outlet and opportunity to contribute to a cause or effort they believe in, I’m very grateful to have found a couple ways I can volunteer my time and give back to my community. Even when they dress me up in absurd ways and make fun of me for being a Lions fan…