Thomas “Tom” Wynn Sr. was a determined visionary and a Veteran who strongly believed that the most significant way for Veterans, particularly Black Veterans, to improve the quality of their lives was to improve the quality of life for others. He believed that giving was the key to receiving, and who better to give than Veterans – men and women who had sacrificed so that people in their country could live in freedom, vote without encumbrance, live the American Dream and have hope for a better future. And he believed that Black Veterans deserved much better than to be treated as second class citizens when they returned to their communities from war.
Tom Wynn wanted to make a difference – and he did! In 1973, he and other veterans who were involved in the Interested Veterans of the Central City (IVOCC), an organization committed to addressing critical issues in Milwaukee’s central city, led efforts to create the National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS). For the next thirty years, Tom Wynn would dedicate his life to working with other veterans to build NABVETS into an organization with the capacity to empower Black veterans and the communities in which they live. Tom Wynn passed in 2004 but ten years later his spirit lives on in every NABVET Chapter across the country.
Thomas H. Wynn Sr. was an ardent champion for addressing the core issues that shackles too many Black Veterans and their families into chronic poverty and hopelessness – education, economic empowerment, affordable housing, access to affordable transportation and access to health care. Tom Wynn not only advocated for justice, equity and inclusion but also demanded that Black Veterans be treated with the dignity that they deserve. He was a tireless and passionate champion for Black Veterans, and for all people who needed assistance and hope.
NABVETS is, indeed, the vessel that carries the dreams of Thomas H. Wynn Sr. into communities across America. Today, NABVETS has grown to be more than 109 Chapters and thousands of members, all working to improve and transform their communities. NABVETS is, indeed, a leadership-based organization; driven by men and women with a shared vision, a passion for justice and an unyielding commitment to improving the lives of others.
Every day, in the spirit of Thomas H. Wynn Sr., NABVETS members work day and night to eliminate veteran homelessness, feed the hungry, help the weak and empower the poor. And it is because of their efforts that many Black Veterans can stand just a little taller, walk just a little further and live just a little better than they did before.
In the unyielding, boundless spirit of Thomas H. Wynn Sr., we move forward.