The driving force behind the GWOT memorial

Michael “Rod” Rodriguez is the CEO and president of the Global War on Terrorism Memorial Foundation. Rodriguez, a former Green Beret, retired after 10 deployments and 21 years of service. He joins this week’s American Legion Tango Alpha Lima podcast to discuss the foundation, his role and plans for the memorial.

Co-hosts Jeff Daly and Ashley Gorbulja-Maldonado, both post 9/11 veterans, open the podcast by discussing the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. The hosts explore the delicate issue which involves taking care of the citizens in need without letting the Taliban gain control of the intended aid.  

They interviewed Rodriguez at the Student Veterans of America national conference earlier this month.

He joined the foundation board in 2016, the year after its creation. Rodriguez, a member of The American Legion, explained the group’s fight to have the memorial constructed in Washington, D.C., a measure supported by American Legion Resolution 16 approved in 2017. A law says that a war must be over for 10 years before a national memorial can be built.

“There was no way they could have seen that we would be in this multi-generational conflict with no clearly forecasted end in sight,” he said, noting that the foundation requested and was approved the exemption in 2017.

Rodriguez talked about the inspiration that drives the foundation’s staff, volunteers and supporters on their mission.

“There are always those reminders of those people who have not had the opportunity to welcome mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters home,” he said. “It’s definitely humbling and terrifying at the same time.”

As the memorial moves forward, a next big step is the design. “The only way we can capture our love — after all, this is a tangible love note to our nation’s warfighters and their families — the only way to capture that is with art. It’s going to be an expression of art.”

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This episode is one more than 100 Tango Alpha Lima podcasts available at this web page. You can also download them on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or other major podcast-hosting sites. You can also view all of the episodes on the Legion’s YouTube channel.