For Ami Sanchez, military veterans represent the intersection of her work inside and outside her Capitol Hill office.
Sanchez, 35, is minority general counsel for the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. In her spare time, she is a member of Team Red, White and Blue, a nonprofit that connects veterans through physical and social activities.
“In my official capacity, as part of my policy portfolio, I handle veterans entrepreneurship,” she said. “For me, I come from a family of Army veterans.”
Four of her eight uncles are Army veterans, she added.
“Professionally, it means a lot to me. Personally, it also means a lot to me,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez has been the committee’s general counsel since April 2009 and a member of Team Red, White and Blue for a year and half. The balancing comes easy, she said, with the volunteer work strengthening her committee work.
“You make time for it. And then, handling veterans issues, the more interactions I get with veterans in the community, the better I am at my job,” Sanchez said.
Team Red, White and Blue holds weekly activities, including runs around town and yoga classes at the Lululemon in Georgetown. They also organize social activities such as happy hours, and volunteer opportunities for members like Sanchez.
In September, Timothy Kopra, former commander of the International Space Station, held a Q&A for members. “He’s familiar with Team Red, White and Blue and wanted to give back in his way,” Sanchez said.
Whether it’s a veteran in her office or the committee’s ranking Democrat Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Sanchez said everyone is very supportive.
“Supporting veterans — no one’s against that,” she said.
Last year at the Sept. 11 memorial run, she found out that a few other staffers on the Hill are members of the group too.
“Everything leads back,” she said. “A lot of these organizations [like Team Red, White and Blue] do a lot of work with the Hill, so there’s always an opportunity to network and find people who have a direct professional correlation to what we’re doing — whether it’s appropriations or budget or the CR.”
Sanchez added, “There’s no shortage of people who are interested in what we’re doing.”
Team Red, White and Blue has 110,000 members nationally and more than 5,500 in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area. About 70 percent of the group’s members are veterans.