On the Hill: Boston University Brother Works to Improve Veterans’ Benefits in Washington, D.C.

For as long as he can remember, Kenny Delatorre swore to himself that someday he would live out his dream of working on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Delatorre has always demonstrated a keen interest for the political landscape, a fascination that led the rising junior to study political science at Boston University.

“My whole life, I’ve wanted to work in politics…during the 2016 presidential campaign, I was very involved in student organizations and campaigning for certain politicians,” said Delatorre.

When Delatorre came across the opportunity to work in D.C., then, through the university’s study abroad program, he had to make his dream a reality.

Delatorre had the chance to meet some of the biggest names in Washington, D.C., such as Bernie Sanders. Photo courtesy of Kenny Delatorre.

This summer, Delatorre had the chance to fulfill his goal of working on Capitol Hill, working with the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA). According to the IAVA’s website, they are “… the premier veterans advocacy and support organization on the planet. Every day, we fight for veterans. Hard. We are the tip-of-the spear non-profit engine of impact that connects, unites and empowers over 400,000 veterans and allies nationwide.”

The internship was tailored for what Delatorre wanted to master, and so his main responsibilities included writing and influencing policy and working with congressional offices to advocate for the rights and benefits of veterans. Delatorre had never considered working with veterans before this summer, but his eyes were quickly opened to how important their rights are. He even had the chance to work alongside veterans, hear their stories, and learn more about how he could help.

“Veterans are vital to this country, Congress, and politics,” said Delatorre. “It [IAVA internship] has opened my eyes to potentially going into a career working with lobby groups for veterans’ issues, because they truly are very important to our nation and the political process.”

A typical day for Delatorre would consist of attending various committee meetings in both the House of Representatives and the Senate, listening for specific policies related to veterans’ affairs, in particular, veterans’ education benefits. He would then take this information back to the IAVA staff to be able to write policy recommendations on what he believed the organization should do.

Delatorre relied on the support of his chapter brothers, which assisted him in having a wonderful summer internship.

Though it was exactly where he dreamed he would be, there were times that Delatorre would face long days or challenges. One of the hardest things Delatorre was tasked with was writing a policy recommendation on what route the organization should take in 2019, which required many long hours of intensive research.

Through the ups and the downs, however, Delatorre said one of his rocks was the support of his fraternity brothers. He remembers one such instance where he was struggling to balance work and classes, and it was the motivation and support from his brothers that got him through the summer. This, in turn, helped him to make the best decisions on the job and help make a difference in the lives of veterans.

Delatorre says that once he graduates from college, there is no doubt in his mind that he wishes to return to Washington, D.C. The thrill of truly acting as a change agent for the benefit of someone else is something of which he will never get enough.

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