Bridging Gaps and Building Connections:                                Action Tank Joins Forces with Mitzvah Circle 

September 11, 2023 - Written by Claire Gunnison

On September 11, 2023, the partnership between Action Tank and Mitzvah Circle underscored the effectiveness of collective action in addressing critical community needs. Four members of Action Tank rolled up their sleeves and joined the Mitzvah Circle team in a hands-on effort to support families in the Delaware Valley.

Mitzvah Circle, an organization dedicated to "filling in the gaps," tackles a crucial issue—providing essential items for families. This encompasses a range of necessities, from clothing and toothpaste to diapers and period products. Mitzvah Circle achieves this by assembling individual care packages tailored to the specific needs of families in the Delaware Valley.

Action Tank collaborated with Mitzvah Circle to assist in "filling in the gaps" and gain a deeper understanding of the organization's processes. The objective was clear: to provide hands-on support to Mitzvah Circle and, in the process, glean insights into the impactful work they do.

Ryan Duncan, Volunteer Coordinator for Mitzvah Circle, expressed gratitude, saying, "Thank you to Action Tank for all you do. We appreciate you coming out to help." This sentiment underscores the importance of community partnerships in amplifying the impact of organizations striving to make a difference.

During their time with Mitzvah Circle, Action Tank members were assigned the task of packing a care package for a specific family. This package included winter clothing, toiletries, and period products—items that the family had reached out to Mitzvah Circle for assistance with directly. The process involved learning about the family's unique circumstances, retrieving the necessary items from the warehouse, packing the box with care, and adding a heartfelt note to accompany the delivery.

In addition to the care package assembly, Action Tank members contributed further by assembling two carts for Mitzvah Circle's warehouse. This hands-on involvement not only directly addressed immediate needs but also supported the infrastructure that allows Mitzvah Circle to carry out its mission effectively.

The collaboration between Action Tank and Mitzvah Circle serves as a compelling example of the impact that can be achieved when organizations join forces to address community needs. By working together, we are building bridges of connection and compassion within the Delaware Valley. As we reflect on this collaborative effort, let it inspire us all to find ways, big and small, to make a positive impact in the communities we call home. For more information, visit: 

Celebrating 5 Years of Partnership

August 12, 2023 Written by Dr. Linda Torres

This year Action Tank celebrated five years of partnership with Pennypack Farm, where Action Tank harvested one thousand pounds of potatoes and 100 cabbages.  Pennypack Farms, one of the contributing farms to the Rolling Harvest Food Rescue, is one of the Philadelphia area’s most impactful farms in their methods, mission, and education, playing a vital role in bringing food security to the Philadelphia area. Please consider supporting Pennypack by participating in their CSA, volunteering, or donating!

You can visit: 

Community Behavioral Health Partnership

June 15, 2023 - Written by Dr. Linda Torres

The love for and relationship we have with this city has grown from how can we improve our home to how can we best support our brothers and sisters who share our home and foster their well-being?  Since the inception of our organization, we have become familiar with neighborhoods affected by substance use, uncertain about the next meal, cooked in the sweltering heat, and as Veterans, can say war torn by gun violence.  Many times, they were the same neighborhoods… Hunting Park, Frankford, West Philly, North Philly…  Where these people live have an immense impact on how they live.  As Dr. Robert Winn of Virginia Commonwealth University put it, a person’s ZNA (zip code , neighborhood and association) affects their health and well-being as much as (or even more than) their DNA.  Which is why we at Action Tank are supporting our new colleagues and their pursuit to care for Philadelphia and the people living in their affected ZNAs. 

Community Behavioral Health (CBH) shares the same love, where their mission is to provide access to high-quality, accountable care to improve the health and mental wellness of those they care for.

 With this partnership, our goals are:

• Identify and assess social conditions impacting mental health within CBH's population, and develop targeted initiatives to address these conditions.

• Increase awareness of CBH's programs and initiatives to better serve the community and ensure the accessibility of resources to those in need.

• Leverage existing partnerships to support CBH's mission and broaden the scope of services available for individuals and families affected by social determinants of health.

• Work with Philadelphia public health and other students to conduct a community needs assessment to help identify effective policies, programs, and interventions for social determinants of health, with the goal of implementing best practices within these communities. 

Planting Trees

April, 2023 - Written by Larry Abrams

What better way to spend Earth Day than digging holes and planting trees.  We penetrated hard, clayish soil and planted nine trees, partnering with the Tree Tenders program.  We can't wait to do it again!

Packing and Partnership with the The Share Food Program

January 21, 2023 - Written by Larry Abrams

Action Tank had a productive, fun morning at Share Food, packing 340 boxes with food; that's 8.5 pallets, 40 boxes per pallet which translates to nearly two tons of food! Part of the joy meant watching Azizah, Share Food's training supervisor in action.  She was honored by being given an Action Tank coin.

Veterans Serving Veterans Service Project with The Share Food Program

November 12, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski-Hagen

Action Tank collaborated with long time partner Share Food Program to provide 7,000 pounds of food to Bucks County citizens and Veterans, serving over 115 families. Items that were provided included: dairy products, produce, Dietz & Watson meat products, canned soups, Bombas socks, soaps/sanitizers, and period products.

Fun with Frankford Friends SchoolNovember 5, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski-Hagen

Yesterday, Action Tank planted 5 trees at Frankford Friends School, located in Philadelphia.  Action Tank members were connected to the school through a long time partner, Dietz & Watson.  During  planting, we were able to visit with students, answer their burning questions and educate them on the importance of tree canopies.  Thanks to our Action Tank members that are Certified Tree Tenders, we were able to assist the school in placement for their trees and sourcing trees that would work best in their environment.  Throughout the FFS campus, members planted two Princeton Elms trees, which will grow to be approximately 70 ft tall, 1 Dogwood tree, and 2 Redbud trees, which replaced two trees that were removed because they were dying.  

When Action Tank member and Certified Tree Tender, Dr. Linda Torres, asked the young class if they knew what was special about the Redbud trees. The children answered back with a combination of answers, some silly, some legitimate guesses. Torres through a chuckle let know that a Redbud is special because their leaves are in the shape of a heart.  Mark Torres, Action Tank's Admin Director, added that the Redbuds will look beautiful in the spring time.

Thank you to Frankford Friends School for giving us the opportunity to continue to plant trees throughout Philadelphia.  We can't wait to visit and see how they flourish!

Action Tank Joins Mitzvah Circle October 31, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski-Hagen

The Action Tank team completed our capstone service project today for our 2022 focus area on Period Poverty.  We owe a big thank you tot eh Mitzvah Circle team and Fran Held who invited us into the amazing Mitzvah Circle Norristown facility.  In just 2 hours, Action Tank packed 450 boxes of mensuration pads into 30 cars to be distributed to those in need. This focus area was extra special to us because it was our first experience with fundraising for a focus area. After months of bootstrap and community fundraising efforts, we raised $1300 to help fund the purchase of menstruation products to fight period poverty. 

Mt. Airy Supper Sessions September 28, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski-Hagen

This summer Action Tank attended multiple Mt. Airy Supper Sessions in effort to share Action Tank's mission to provide period products to Mitzvah Circle. Among the many offerings, Mitzvah Circle provides pads and tampons to every person they serve that mensurates. Action Tank's overall goal during Mt. Airy Supper Session was to spread knowledge of MC's program.  Supper Sessions attendees were also able to scan a QR code and make a contribution.  All proceeds from that contribution will be provided to Mitzvah Circle on October 21st during the next Action Tank service project.  If you are a veteran or a community member that would like to volunteer with Action Tank, please reach out to us at  

Photo Cred: CeaseFirePA
Action Tank Supports Emergency Risk Protection OrdersAugust 12, 2022 - Written by Matt Miclette

Action Tank remains steadfast in our support of emergency risk protection order (ERPO) legislation for Pennsylvania. We have been involved with education of policy advocates, political staff, and other key stakeholders by providing

firearm education to help policymakers and other key stakeholders

better speak with credibility.

Action Tank additionally provided a letter of support to the Judiciary Committee in June in response to a call to action after mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde. The ERPO legislation (HB 1075) led by Rep. Todd Stephens was not brought up for a vote by the chairman, Rep. Rob Kauffman. Instead ERP was referred to the Local Government committee, which further delayed these life saving interventions.

We continue to call for action on ERPO. The 2022 Bipartisan Safer Communities Act (i.e. bipartisan gun bill) passed by Congress further provides additional funding and technical assistance to Pennsylvania to implement best ERPO practices. 

We have the evidence, technical knowledge, and funding support for ERPO in the Commonwealth. We will continue to educate our community leaders about this issue and partners to see implementation.

Action Tank Partners with PHS to do Some Digging

May 05, 2022 - Written by Tim Kluska

On Saturday, April 28th Action Tank took to Ambler neighborhoods in effort to restore tree canopy that was destroyed due to a tornado that touched down in September. This is a continued effort by Action Tank to assist our partners in the tree canopy restoration in Philadelphia and surrounding counties. It was the perfect day for planting and meeting the residents of Ambler who were affected by the storms. In addition to our own member volunteers, we leveraged our Action Tank network to coordinate with the district’s PA State Representative, Todd Stephens, who brought out his office to help with digging and planting. And it’s always a great day when we can present 2 of our newest Action Tank members with Action Tank challenge coins! Great work team! Welcome to Action Tank, Larry Abrams and Dave Golas!

Action Tank Supports Team Foster and Penn Vet Working Dog Center

March 31, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski

At Action Tank, many of our members belong to various non-profits throughout the City of Philadelphia and some are even the founders of their very own non-profits!  Team Foster, founded by Action Tank member and Army Reservist, Nick Liermann, is a non-profit that fights for the unmet needs of injured and disabled Veterans by bringing together civilians, Veterans and highly trained service dogs. 

This past weekend, Action Tank members collaborated with Team Foster at the PennVet Working Dog Center (PVWDC) to help improve the facilities where working dogs are trained and rehabilitated. Inspired by the Search & Rescue Dogs that responded to the 9/11 attacks, the PVWDC trains K9s that will go on to serve as detection or search & rescue dogs. The Action Tank team put a fresh coat of paint on the walls of the PVWDC’s Performance Medicine Space, which is dedicated to K9 training and fitness sessions and is also utilized by the Center’s team of Veterinarians, who use the space for one-on-one appointments with working dog handlers to help get their working dogs ready to return to work after injury, illness, or long periods of time not working. In addition, the Action Tank team sanded, painted, and made light repairs to the outdoor agility yard, where Officers work with their Law Enforcement K9s as part of the United States Police Canine Association (USPCA) Certification process. More about the PennVet Working Dog Center (PVWDC) can be found on their website.

Action Tank is proud to volunteer with the PVWDC and support other organizations in their mission, such as Team Foster.  You’ll find a few Action Tank members riding at Team Foster’s next fundraising event, Ruff Ride; taking place this June at Lincoln Financial Field. Ruff Ride is a high energy cycling event, where you and your teammates keep a stationary bike spinning for 24 hours while helping Team Foster raise funds so that service dogs can be placed with local veterans diagnosed with PTSD or TBI. For more information on how to ride or volunteer with Team Foster, visit their events page. And keep your ears open and eyes peeled for the latest podcast episode from Team CTW: Conquer the World, which TF founder, Nick Liermann spearheads with his partner, Erica Webster.

Meet Larry Abrams: Action Tank Member and Founder of BookSmiles

March 11, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Last week Action Tank members joined BookSmiles in its mission to promote literacy and the joy of reading by giving books to children in Philadelphia. Founder, Larry Abrams, a US Navy Veteran and teacher, has been a book enthusiast since he was a small child and first had the idea for BookSmiles when he was working with a student in his classroom. Larry founded BookSmiles in 2017 and in 2019 opened the BookSmiles Book Bank. 

Action Tank members were elated to collaborate with BookSmiles on Read Across America Day! Research conducted proves that reading books aloud to children stimulates their imagination and expands their understanding of the world and helps them develop language and listening skills and prepares them to understand the written word. Action Tank assisted in delivering and unloading 30 cases of books (that's 2400 books!!) to St. Raymond of Penafort School in Philadelphia. 

You can find news coverage from the book delivery by visiting: The Philadelphia Inquirer, FOX 29 News, and 6 ABC. To find out more about BookSmiles, volunteer, or register to receive books, visit

Action Tank Delivers 1300 lbs. of Food to Senior Citizens with the Share Food Program

Jan 25, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

In 2018 Action Tank dedicated their yearly mission to partner with local organizations, like the Share Food Program, to fight food insecurity in Philadelphia. Last weekend Action Tank members met once again at the Share Food Program’s West Huntington Park location, loaded up their vehicles, and hit the road to deliver 54 boxes of food to senior citizens experiencing food insecurity in Philadelphia.


“I love hearing from Action Tank because I know Action Tank brings good energy and a team ready to get to work.”

         - Onika Washington-Johnson

            Share Food Volunteer Manager

The Share Food Program leads the fight against food insecurity in the Philadelphia region, by serving an expansive, quality partner network of community-based organizations and school districts engaged in food distribution, education and advocacy. Food insecurity is rising in and around our city and YOU can help feed your neighbors in need. To find out more about the Share Food Program, volunteer, or find food, visit:

To learn more about other organizations in Philadelphia fighting food insecurity, watch Feeding Philly. Directed by Tim Yingling and produced by Action Tank, Feeding Philly (2020) follows Action Tank on their year-long mission as they work with community partners to improve the food insecurity landscape in Greater Philadelphia.

Action Tank Closes Out the Year Serving the Philadelphia Community with Toys For Tots

Jan 06, 2022 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

On December 11, 2021, Action Tank members joined Toys For Tots as they prepared for their annual holiday sorting and distribution. Action Tank assisted in the packing and distributing of hundreds toys. This team effort involved unpacking and organizing toys by age group, fulfilling orders, and loading vehicles for various organizations receiving toys for their tots.  For more information on how to volunteer or make a contribution for Toys For Tots Philadelphia, visit their website.

They would love to see more volunteers and toy donations during the 2022 Holiday season.

Joining Local Communities to Plant Trees in Honor of Veterans

Nov 15, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Action Tank has spent the past 18 months planting over 2000 trees with partners like Tree Philly and the Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS). On Friday, November 5, 2021, Action Tank collaborated with various colleges and universities to plant 39 trees in honor or memory of veterans.  

This event may have taken place on November 5th, but Action Tank members, Linda Torres and Matt Connolly, were hard at work the day before with Tree Authority LLC coordinating a tree pickup and drop off to 5 separate locations.

Action Tank kicked off the day at 0900 at the Temple Ambler campus, planting 18 trees in the John Paul Endicott Memorial Garden. A few months back, this campus, also an arboretum, experienced severe damage when a tornado touched down wiping out thousands of plants and trees.  Action Tank is proud to be able to contribute to and work with this community during this time.

“We hope to make this an annual event at Temple Ambler as we try to help restore the many trees lost this summer due to the hurricane.”

- Matt Connolly, Action Tank Operations Director

Making our way into Philadelphia, we joined Drexel University’s Office of Student Veterans and planted 4 trees  to honor the late Chuck McNally, Johnny Cook, Adrian Jordan, as well as one tree to honor all Drexel University veterans past and present. The trees were planted at Drexel Park, overlooking the city and were complete with plaques placed at the base of the trees to memorialize the veterans.

“It was a beautiful ceremony and very special to have families here to help us plant trees for their loved ones.”

– Jess Wisniewski-Hagen, Action Tank Administrative Director

Thomas Jefferson University and Villanova University plantings took place simultaneously at 1300. At Thomas Jefferson University, 10 trees were planted outside of The Gallagher Athletic Recreation and Convocation Center. 

“The tree planting at Thomas Jefferson University at the East Falls campus was one of those special moments. Trees have a strong core, help the environment, provide shade and nourishment, and grow for decades withstanding the harshest of times. These trees will remind us not to forget those who allow us to have our freedoms! It was an honor to be part of the tree planting experience with Action Tank.” 

-  Audrey L. Zapletal, OTD, OTR/L, CLA, Director of the MSOT Program

at Thomas Jefferson University

Over at Villanova University, Action Tank was joined by members of Villanova’s NROTC and Student Veterans Club to plant 5 Oak Trees, adding to the campus’s arboretum. Each tree, planted outside John Barry Hall, was planted in dedication to each service branch.

“Today was a wonderful way to bring multiple service-affiliated groups together to pay tribute to our Nation's Veterans and make the Villanova Campus even more beautiful.”

- Jake Baranik, Action Tank Member and Villanova MBA Student 

Action Tank wrapped up a busy day of tree planting with a heartwarming ceremony at Penn Medicine Hospice, where two Eastern Redbuds were planted, a beautiful poem, We Remember Them, was read, and an Action Tank Challenge Coin was presented.

“Today we planted Eastern Redbuds. You can see their leaves are heart shaped, I like to think that this serves as a reminder of the love and care that has been provided to veterans at Penn Hospice.”

- Linda Torres, Action Tank Policy Director

Action Tank will continue in our mission to help restore tree canopies in Philadelphia, even as 2021 comes to an end. You can read here to find out more about Philadelphia's diminishing tree canopies and we encourage you to read up on Tree Philly’s latest draft of the Philly Tree Plan and share your thoughts.

Featured on 6ABC Action News Philly Proud

Nov 08, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Action Tank member’s, Mark Torres and Jessica Wisniewski, share what make makes them Philly Proud to serve their communities with other like-minded and like-hearted veterans. CLICK HERE to watch the full news clip featured on ABC6 News

Philly Proud.

“Stepping out of the military and going into civilian life it seemed like, now I have all this energy that I’m used to exerting and extending, and I don’t have that outlet for it.” 

   — Mark Torres, Action Tank Treasurer

“There are so many of us that are true assets to our community. We harness all these skills and we put them to good use. ”

                   — Jess Wisniewski-Hagen, Action Tank Admin Director

Congratulations, Dr. Emily Balog

Oct 28, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

We are incredibly proud to congratulate Action Tank’s Communications Director and Tillman Scholar Emily Balog on successfully defending her PhD dissertation, earning her Doctor of Philosophy in Translational Health Sciences from The George Washington University. Shortly after receiving her PhD, Dr. Balog began serving as an assistant professor of Occupational Therapy at Rutgers University, where she is able to make a positive impact on students and develop the next generation of occupational therapists. Prior to her assistant professor role at Rutgers, Emily previously served as an adjunct professor at Thomas Jefferson University. Along her journey to completing her PhD, Dr. Balog also completed a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. 

Emily is a loving mother and wife who has dedicated her PhD to her late mother, Diana Rigilano Koshland. Action Tank is incredibly proud of Emily’s accomplishments and look forward to the additional value she will bring to Action Tank and the greater Philadelphia community.

Action Tank Featured in Philadelphia Inquirer 

Oct 24, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Kevin Riordan of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote and published a piece on the good work of Action Tank. The article highlights the unique mission of AT, the passion of each member, and describes how military service has prompted community service. The Inquirer article was also featured by the Pat Tillman Foundation as four members of Action Tank are Tillman


Matt Connolly, Operations Director

Nick Liermann, Admin Team

Jake Baranik, Admin Team

Action Tank Members Fundraise with Team Foster to Provide Service Dogs to Veterans

Sept 04, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

This month we are highlighting Action Tank members volunteering with other organizations to make an impact.  On September 11, 2021, three proud Action Tank members will be cycling 100 miles while fundraising for Team Foster to pair service dogs with local veterans suffering from combat related disabilities including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Team Foster founder and Action Tank member Nick Liermann, alongside Action Tank’s Matt Connolly and Jake Baranik will be beginning their ride in Camden, NJ and ending 100 miles later in Cape May, NJ.   

Leading Generations to Come: Action Tank Members Honored with Teaching Awards

June 06, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

This month we are highlighting Action Tank members volunteering with other organizations to make an impact.  On September 11, 2021, three proud Action Tank members will be cycling 100 miles while fundraising for Team Foster to pair service dogs with local veterans suffering from combat related disabilities including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI).  Team Foster founder and Action Tank member Nick Liermann, alongside Action Tank’s Matt Connolly and Jake Baranik will be beginning their ride in Camden, NJ and ending 100 miles later in Cape May, NJ.   

Daris McInnis was honored with the 2020-2021 Outstanding Faculty Award by West Chester University. Award nominations came directly from students enrolled in Honors courses to identify and describe outstanding faculty they have met while at West Chester University. 

One student wrote “Professor McInnis truly cares about students' wellbeing and mental health during his course. He relates to students and uses effective ice breakers at the beginning of class to make us feel like a community. He is always open to talking to us about things going on outside of class. It truly feels like Professor McInnis cares about making us better teachers.”

The University of Pennsylvania awarded Jesse Hamilton the Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching by Graduate Students. This award recognizes the profound impact of graduate students on education at Penn. Nominations come directly from undergraduate and graduate students. Ten prizes are awarded annually.

“I view teaching as leadership,” Hamilton said. “My conception of teaching—leading by example, helping students achieve their academic and personal goals, and supporting and caring for them along the way—is grounded in my experiences in the U.S. Army as a drill sergeant and as an embedded advisor to the Iraqi Army. It’s an honor and a privilege to teach such exceptional students at Penn."

Honoring National Volunteer Week: Join Tree Philly in Their Mission to Create Growth for Philly's Urban Forest

April 21, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

This City of Philadelphia is launching its first-ever urban forest strategic planning process and this month Tree Philly, a partner of Action Tank, officially announced their public engagement project for the Philly Tree Plan. Their plan includes a ten-year blueprint to create growth and care of Philadelphia’s urban forest. Action Tank has learned that addressing the tree canopy is linked to better community health outcomes and even reduces violence.

Tree Philly’s vision through the urban forest will be a source of pride for Philadelphians and will inspire advocacy and participation in tree planting and protection throughout the city. Their mission is guided by values of environmental justice, community engagement, and sustainability. And one of their many goals is to prioritize equity in service delivery, ensuring that the most vulnerable and underserved communities’ benefit from a healthy tree canopy.

Action Tank Member Joins Fellow Veterans to Speak About Serving Their Community After Serving Their Country 

April 17, 2021 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank Administrative Director, Jess Wisniewski-Hagen, participated in a virtual panel discussion hosted by Drexel University’s Office of Veteran Student Services. The panel focused on an inspirational conversation lead by military affiliated Drexel Dragons who are continuing to serve their community after serving their country. 

When asked by the moderator, “What gravitated you towards the organizations you currently work with?” Jess answered, “I was introduced to Action Tank through a student I had been working with and immediately recognized that it was an uplifting organization and community to be a part of. It felt really great to be surrounded by like-minded and like-hearted veterans.”

To hear Jess and other veterans share their stories, follow the link below and use passcode: EF7S*ABs


Additionally, Jess was featured in #FemaleVetFriday, a social media program by the Philadelphia Veterans Parade and Food Shelter that showcases specific female veterans who are positively contributing to their communities through continued acts of service. Action Tank was featured on the #AnsweringTheCall through our work as a VSO bringing attention to issues impacting the veteran community.

Congratulations Jess and thank you for your incredible service to the veteran community, Philadelphia, and to Action Tank!

Action Tank Service Director Honored with Scholarship and Selected to Head Pro Bono Clinic

April 01, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Action Tank Service Director, Darrell Wisseman was honored with the Hortense T. Moss Scholarship for being a first year graduate student in health sciences (Physical Therapy) demonstrating academic excellence, leadership potential, and involvement in service. Darrell has shown that he is clearly able to fulfill the mission of the scholarship as he was named Clinic Coordinator for Arcadia University’s student-run Pro Bono PT Clinic. Darrell demonstrates these skills in excellence, leadership, and service here at Action Tank every day. Congratulations on the recognition of your outstanding achievements, Darrell!

Big News for Action Tank Members: Starting off Strong in 2021

Feb 08, 2021 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Action Tank Members have been starting off the New Year with huge headlines! Immediate past Executive Director, now Advisory Board member, Chris Diaz, was appointed to be the White House Liaison Chief of Staff for the Veterans Administration. AT wishes him great luck and congratulations in this new role! Action Tank’s Executive Director, Matt Miclette, spoke with PBS about the opioid crisis. In his interview, Miclette discusses barriers to evidence-based treatments, such as medications for opioid use disorder, for veterans and service members with substance use disorder. In 2017, Action Tank’s mission focused on the opioid epidemic and Miclette has been in close contact with partners since this mission. Action Tank Chief of Staff, Jesse Hamilton, wrote and published a compelling OpEd in the Tampa Bay Times on the loyalty of military members to the Constitution, a response to the insurgence at the Capitol. Additionally, Hamilton has been published for his work at Penn on combating the political biases of COVID-19 Pandemic through philosophy and science.

Action Tank Condemns Capitol Violence

Jan 20, 2021 - Written Collectively by Action Tank Members

As Veterans who swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, Action Tank condemns the seditious acts and violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. We reaffirm our support for our Republic and will continue to serve our community to foster a better and brighter future for all Americans.

Action Tank Continues Tree Canopy Restoration Amidst Global Pandemic

Dec 15, 2020 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Action Tank members have been busy working through the fall on restoring the tree canopy in Philadelphia. Together with stakeholders like Philadelphia Horticultural Society (PHS), Tree Philly, Esperanza, NOAH, and multiple local Tree Tenders groups; Action Tank members have spent over 30 hours in masked/socially distanced events in November alone. Members assisted in the distribution of over 1100 trees for planting and as an organization planted over 17 trees this November that benefit tree restoration in Philadelphia. The goal of the Tree Canopy Restoration is to improve the environmental, social, and health conditions in vulnerable Philadelphia communities. Action Tank demonstrates commitment and dedication to improving the conditions in Philadelphia no matter the challenges. 

Veterans Day with Action Tank: Documentary Screening and 2020 Awards

Nov 12, 2020 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Veteran’s Day is always a big event for Action Tank’s all veteran team because this day marks the birth of the organization. This year, Action Tank celebrated our 4 year anniversary at a socially distanced/masked event at Work Horse Brewery where we did an initial screening of our documentary, Feeding Philly. You can expect the full release of the documentary to the public in 2021.

During the celebration, Action Tank held it’s first ever award banquet where members Darrel Wisseman and Linda Fontanilla were honored. These two individuals were honored because they have embodied our core values and have been critical in Action Tank's 2020 mission on Gun Violence. Darrel Received the Public Health Leadership Award and Linda received the Community Advocate Award. Congratulations and thank you for your Leadership and Advocacy!

Penn Doctoral Student and Action Tank Member named Penn's Perry World House Fellow, Leads Students in Galapagos Island

Oct 06, 2020 - Written by Jess Wisniewski- Hagen

Photo courtesy of

Action Tank’s newest member, Jesse Hamilton, a fifth-generation combat veteran and former Staff Sergeant in the United States Army and now a University of Pennsylvania doctoral student, was recently named a graduate fellow at Penn’s Perry World House. 

This past summer, Hamilton led a team of undergraduate students to help small business owners in Galápagos Islands establish, grow, and maintain economically sustainable and environmentally friendly small businesses. Hamilton and his team worked with a variety of businesses, including a farm-to-table sandwich shop, a t-shirt/souvenir shop, and a local farm specializing in coffee, pigs, and citrus fruits. The team’s work attracted positive attention and was the lead feature on the University’s website.

During his time in the military, he first served as an artilleryman in the 101st Airborne Division, then as a drill sergeant, and finally as an embedded advisor to the Iraqi Army in Fallujah. Upon receiving an honorable discharge, Jesse transitioned to The Vanguard Group as a financial advisor. He later moved into portfolio management as a trader in Vanguard’s Fixed Income Group, where he was responsible for the day-to-day management of $3 billion in client assets across several municipal bond portfolios. Most recently, Jesse served as an internal process and management consultant in Vanguard’s Investment Management Group. 

As a Ph.D. student in Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, Jesse’s primary research interests lie in ethics, political philosophy, and philosophy of science. Specifically, he focuses on issues related to human rights, distributive justice, climate change, and just war. Since beginning graduate studies, Jesse has written on moral injury in the wake of withdrawing combat troops from Syria and argued that President Trump’s pardoning of war criminals undermined the rule of law.

Action Tank is incredibly lucky to have Jesse on our team. Congratulations on your many accomplishments!

Standing in Solidarity Through Continued Efforts in Improving Social and Environmental Conditions: Tree Canopy Restoration

Aug 02, 2020 - Written Collectively by Action Tank Members

There are countless organizations and individuals focusing on the pressing social justice issues that have rightfully taken center stage. As members of Action Tank, we are here to support these organizations in any way we can.  As members of the Armed Forces, we swore an oath to defend the Constitution, and now as community veterans, we spare no effort to uphold the values enshrined in it.

Acting on these beliefs, Action Tank is striving to improve social conditions in the Philadelphia community. The needs of the community have always driven our yearly missions--previously addressing the opioid epidemic, food insecurity, gun violence, and now tree canopy restoration. Tree canopy is the layer of trees, branches, and stems that provide tree coverage of the ground when viewed from above and in Philadelphia tree canopies are being destroyed at an alarming rate in vulnerable communities. 

Action Tank reaffirms our core values: empathy, collaboration, and service. We express empathy towards our fellow Americans and Philadelphians, many of whom have faced unjust treatment based upon the color of their skin. We will continue to collaborate with our fellow community members across the private, public, and non-profit sectors to foster real change in our communities. We will continue to serve our communities by improving social and environmental conditions.  In addressing the tree canopy restoration, we unveil the deep history in social injustice and improve social conditions while practicing our core values.

Returning Member Awarded Ethics Certification

June 11, 2020 - Written by Emily Balog

Along with holding designations as an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) and Behavioral Financial Advisor (BFA), Action Tank member, Brian Pultro, recently earned the designation of Registered Financial Consultant (RFC). Following these distinguished designations, he was awarded the highly sought after "Ethics Certification". This certification comes with a thorough background review of his practice history and ethical standards. Pultro states, “Even though I always put my clients first, being awarded this ethics certification is another giant leap in my quest to ensure my practice is held to the highest ethical standards in the industry.” Congratulations Brian and welcome back to the Philadelphia area!

Action Tank Member Helps Deliver 600 Pounds of Food to Philadelphians in Need

May 16, 2020 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank members have been busy fighting COVID-19 in a number of different ways. We’d like to highlight Jess Wisniewski for her service work with Share Food and Sharing Excess. In the past 2 months she has helped deliver over 600 pounds of food to individuals and families in Philadelphia through Share Food Program and Sharing Excess Inc. 

Here’s how you can help with food waste during the shutdown: Thanks for all your hard work Jess and for keeping bonds strengthened with previous partners.

Action Tank Service Director, Dr. Linda Fontanilla, Publishes Article on Founder of The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting

Feb 04, 2020 - Written by Emily Balog

Dr. Fontanilla, Action Tank's Service Director, published an article in the Social Innovations Journal highlighting Jim MacMillon, founder of The Initiative for Better Gun Violence Reporting. The article describes MacMillon's humble leadership and desire to generate a program that improves journalists responsible reporting of gun violence and how best practices can prevent shootings and save lives. Action Tank is pleased to be connected with such an innovative passionate leader. Thank you for capturing such an inspirational profile, Dr. Fontanilla!

Action Tank Member Receives Civic Engagement Award

June 11, 2020 - Written by Emily Balog

Congratulations to Action Tank Member, Lauren Johnson, recognized by Drexel's Lindy Center for Civic Engagement. She received the "Outstanding Graduate Civic Engagement Award" which is given yearly to a graduate student that has shown deep commitment to civic engagement and is recognized as a leader among the graduate community. Johnson has shown a deep commitment to the community both in and out of the Action Tank organization. Congratulations on this momentous achievement!

Meeting with Policy Makers Call to Action: Gun Violence

April 22, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank is at it again—Bringing theory to action in our community! Members took to Harrisburg and met with the PA House of Representative’s Armed Forces Caucus, including PA National Guardsman and State Representative Zach Mako for state action on gun violence while another Action Tank group met with Representative Chrissy Houlahan to discuss federal impacts on gun violence. Action Tank is utilizing their unique position as veterans to develop innovative solutions to ensure a safe America while also protecting our right to bear arms. Anyone interested in making an impact should email Pictured (top): Matt Miclette, Chris Diaz, Representative Zach Mako, Andres Galarza; Pictured (bottom): Randall Hsia, Nick Lierman, Representative Chrissy Houlahan, Emily Balog, Doug Wieglet.

Executive Director Appointed by Philadelphia Mayor to Serve on Committee

May 13 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank's Executive Director, Chris Diaz, has been appointed to the SmartCity PHL Advisory Committee by Mayor Kenney. This appointment demonstrates how Action Tank's influence in the community continues to grow. Congratulations Chris!

Member Presents at Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Conference

May 28 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank Policy Team Member, Doug Weiglet, had the opportunity to present to over 600 law enforcement, public service, medical professionals, at the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council Conference hosted by the State Attorney's office. His team covered a number of topics that included bio-terrorist risks to humans and agriculture infrastructure, to ebola treatment centers and current operational capacity to survey, respond, and prepare for these events.

Doug is yet another demonstration of the diverse knowledge set that Action Tank members posses and the dissemination of that knowledge to the right groups. 

Action Tank on The Road: Running, Cycling & Fundraising for the Good of the Community

June 03 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank Members have been busy participating in athletic events supporting veterans and the community.


This spring our members raised thousands of dollars, generated awareness, and met personal goals to better the community. They demonstrated Action Tank’s core values of empathy, collaboration, and service beyond their organizational roles.

A huge congratulations to member, Nick Lierman, founder of Team Foster, who raised 83K during the Ruff Ride cycling event to support acquisition of service dogs for veterans in need at no cost to the veteran. Members Chris Diaz, Emily Balog, Randy Hsia , Linda Fontanilla, Mark Torres, Darrell Wisseman, and Jessica Wisniewski participated in the event on a veteran team organized by Jessica Wisniewski.

AT members and Pat Tillman Scholars, Emily Balog and Chris Diaz, ran the Tillman Honors Run in support of the Pat Tillman Foundation and legacy of NFL hero Pat Tillman.

Member Darrel Wisseman of Blue Hen Veterans & Friends, cycled with adaptive athletes in Face of America Gettysburg event, a 112-mile cycling ride from the Pentagon to Gettysburg hosted by World TEAM and raised over $4,000 to support adaptive athletic events totaling over $700,000.

Member Carlo Aragoncillo ran with the Sergeant Major of the Army, Daniel Dailey, to honor a fallen soldier and brought color to a service organization.

Member Mark Torres finished the Naked Prussian 50 Mile Ultra in under 11 hrs crushing a personal milestone and demonstrating inner and outer strength, dedication, and perseverance.

Congratulations to a dedicated team of veterans who continue to serve the community!

Growing Concerns for Stimulants

June 03 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Member and Operations Director, Matt Miclette, published an article for the Inquirer about substance abuse and the growing concern for stimulants. Miclette emphasizes prevention and response strategies in the article. Thank you Matt for your continued efforts to raise awareness and strive toward treatment options!

Member Nick Liermann as Guest Analyst on The Dan Abrams Show

June 22 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank member, Nick Liermann, appeared as a legal analyst on Sirius XM's The Dan Abrams show twice this month. In his first apperance, he discussed the charges brought against Scot Peterson for child neglect after he did not confront the gunman at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In his second appearance, Nick talked with Dan about the trial of Navy SEAL, Chief Edward Gallagher. Liermann claims that the "intersection of law and our military is something [he is] very passionate about."

Theory to Action: Can Community Clean-up Prevent Gun Violence?

July 10 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank partnered with University Place Associates (UPA) to beautify the 40th street section of Powelton in Philadelphia. Studies show that neighborhood clean ups can potentially prevent gun violence. There were 3 shootings that have occurred in this two block span since 2015, 29 shootings in the University Place neighborhood, and 36 shootings in its adjacent neighborhood of Powelton. Gun violence is one of the leading causes of injury and death in the United States and in Pennsylvania. In Philadelphia, gun violence continues to rise with shooting victims up 34% from 2014-2018. PEW State of the City data shows 65% ofthese homicide victims are between the ages of 16 – 34. Reducing the number of deaths by firearm must be a prioritynot only for the city of Philadelphia, but for the state and the nation as well in order to protect the health and well-being of those who live, work, and visit here. Action tank members did their part today to bring theory to action and come together as a community. Members taking part: Chris Diaz, Matt Miclette, Randy Hsia, Emily Balog, Jim Blanchet, Linda Fontanilla, Garner Smythe and his daughter, Mark Torres, Doug Weiglet, and AT intern Guarav Barot. Additionally, Anthony Maher from UPA and his son coordinated with AT Service Director Linda Fontanilla and participated in the clean up.

Action Tank Member Wins Junior Investigator Poster Award at Behavioral Science World Conference

Aug 06. 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Pictured is Action Tank member, Lauren Johnson, at the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science World Conference 17 that was hosted in Dublin, Ireland. The poster presentation session was held in the historic St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the tallest and largest church in Ireland! Lauren presented two posters, one of which, “Self-Compassion Moderates Hopelessness in Predicting Suicide Ideation Among People Living With HIV/AIDS,” was awarded the Junior Investigator Poster Award. Congratulations Lauren, we are so lucky to have your brilliance at Action Tank!

Knowledge Brokers in Action: Community Service at Project Home

Aug 31, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank members collaborated with Project Home, an organization who provides services and housing to end the cycle of poverty and homelessness, to deepen the relationship with the organization, help to beautify their residencies, and to interact with the residents who are at high risk of being affected by gun violence. Additionally, a goal to bridge a relationship with Drexel’s Healing Hurt People and Project Home was facilitated. Action Tank Members provided minor maintenance work including painting, gardening, and building picnic tables and talked with the residents. The service work allows Action Tank Members to bring theory to action by being knowledge brokers of evidence, services, and action within the community. Pictured: Linda Fontanilla, Matt Connolly, Chris Diaz, Matt Miclette, Lauren Johnson, Randy Hsia, Darrell Wisseman, and Mark Torress. A special Thank You to service member Jess Wisniewski who contributed greatly to this event.

Hot off The Press! Action Tank Newsletter

Sept 11, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank members have been hard at work addressing some of Philadelphia’s complex problems.  The first newsletter highlights the efforts from the end of 2018’s mission to end food insecurity as well as discusses the 2019 mission to address gun violence.  If you would like to join our mailing list, please email us at or subscribe below.  Click here to view the newsletter!

Action Tank Supports ERPO with Moms Demand Action

Sept 30, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank member, Lauren Johnson, represented the non-profit organization’s support for Emergency Risk Protection Orders (ERPO), also known as the Red Flag Law, when she spoke at the rally earlier this month. Johnson spoke up about how this law is supported by both Republicans and Democrats and can help prevent veteran suicide. Footage from the event was captured by CBS news and can be viewed here.

Action Tank Members Publish OpEd

Oct 09, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank members and Tillman Scholars, Emily Balog and Matt Miclette, published an Op-Ed in the Pennsylvania Capital Star last week. The article addressed concerns for deaths in Pennsylvania and across the US related to firearms. The article encourages Pennsylvanians to lobby for the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO), also known as the Red Flag Law, and not to wait for Congress, but rather demonstrate unity and change right here in the Commonwealth. ERPO is an evidence-based policy that reduces risk of death by firearm while also protecting the Second Amendment rights of citizens. Read the article from the Pennsylvania Capital Star here.

Action Tank Members Attend Tillman Honors in Chicago

Nov 08, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank members and Tillman Scholars, Chris Diaz and Emily Balog, attended the Tillman Honors event where Action Tank received an honorable mention during a speech discussing leadership. To see more about the event, click here. Congratulations!

Action Tank Partners with WHYY to Support Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit

Nov 08, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank provided partnership and support to WHYY for their Better Gun Violence Reporting Summit. Action Tank members, Linda Fontinilla, Jess Wisniewski, Matt Miclette, and Matt Connolly (pictured above)attended the event and represented the organization with expertise and professionalism. At the event, panelists discussed the implications of reducing gun violence through better reporting. Read more about the summit here.

Article Featuring Tillman Scholar and Action Tank Operations Director, Matt Miclette

Nov 11, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

The article, featured in The Athletic, describes how Miclette has used his scholarship to influence his career in mental health as well as through work with Action Tank. His past service and current skills are highlighted. Action Tank is thankful to have Miclette’s service and representation! Read the article here.

Member and Entrepreneur Wins Two Awards

April 05, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Member Chris Molaro won two prestegious awards promoting his company, NeuroFlow, an organization designed to promote behavioral health access and engagement. The awards honored his company mission to improve mental health access and treatment. The awards included the 2019 Venture Connect Pitch at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Conference and the 2019 Hatch Pitch at SXSW. Congratulations, Chris! We're so lucky to have you on our team!

COMING SOON! Feeding Philly: Action Tank's Documentary on Food Insecurity

April 05, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Feeding Philly Trailer from Giddyup Bronco Productions on Vimeo.

Feeding Philly is a documentary produced by Giddyup Bronco Productions in partnership with Action Tank to build awareness about the impact of food insecurity on the Philadelphia community. The documentary will be available in 2019--Stay Tuned!

Member Publishes Article on Substance Use Research and Policy

March 20, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank's Operation Director and member, Matt Miclette, published an article entitled "Strengthening partnerships between substance use researchers and policy makers to take advantage of a window of opportunity.” The article discusses closing the gap between research and policy. This is Miclette’s second published article on substance use and AT is lucky to have him on the team! The article can be found here.

Action Tank Garners Support from Philadelphia Flyers and United Health Care

March 05, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

The Philadelphia Flyers and United Health Care awarded Action Tank $1000 to support the organization’s efforts in the city. Action Tank is grateful to have been recognized throughout the stadium as a model community partner. 

Action Tank Member Participates as Female Veteran Panelist in HERstory Event

Feb 27, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank member, Jessica Wiesnewski, was a panelist for Drexel University’s HERstory on February 11, a program showcasing women veterans. Jess and the other panelists courageously told their stories and answered questions about the struggles and achievements of being a woman in the military. Jess also shared how the military mindset has allowed her to grow in her career. She is an exemplary leader and an asset to Action Tank. Way to go, Jess!

Action Tank Veteran and Nurse Places in Penn's "StorySlam"

Feb 19, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Photo Courtesy of Penn StorySlam

Join us in congratulating Action Tank member, Linda Fontanilla, in placing 2nd place in Penn’s StorySlam. Linda shared her personal stories and experiences to a room full of people demonstrating her strength, courage, and ability to be vulnerable. We’re lucky to have this incredible woman on our Team. Way to go, LInda!

Veterans Take on Hunger Through Community Collaboration: Action Tank's 100 for Hunger

Jan 21, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action tank members orchestrated an interactive meeting to tackle the food insecurity epidemic in Philadelphia. Members of the federal, state, and local government—including Pennsylvania’s very own Representatives, Evans and Houlahan—as well as non-profit organizations, corporate leaders, local university leaders, and individuals who have experienced food insecurity,participated in 100 for Hunger this Friday on behalf of Action Tank. Check out the coverage from KYW Newsradio here 

Action Tank Partners with Dietz & Watson to Feed the Community

Jan 10, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank members, Linda Fontanilla and Matt Connolly, met with Dietz & Watson to participate in a food drop off to the Share Food program where 20,000 pounds of food was donated in an effort to end hunger in Philadelphia. Dietz and Watson is always striving to find ways to give back to these communities. They do this in a variety of different ways, one being their philanthropic program, “Families Helping Families,” which is a nationwide effort to raise money and provide resources for community focused organizations. With their hometown of Philadelphia in mind, Dietz &Watson is thrilled to support Action Tank, and didn’t hesitate in teaming with Action Tank on this meeting.

Action Tank Member Publishes Journal Article

Jan 08, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Action Tank's Operation Director and member, Matt Miclette, published an article entitled "Closing the gaps in opioid use disorder research, policy and practice: conference proceedings" in the Journal of Addiction Science & Clinical Practice. The article describes policy recommendations from stakeholders associated with the University of Pennsylvania aimed at closing the gaps in substance use policy and practice. The article can be found here 

Serving After Service

Jan 08, 2019 - Written by Emily Balog

Chris Diaz, Action Tank's co-founder and Tillman Scholar was featured in a promotional spot for the Pat Tillman Foundation. Chris shares the story behind his motivation and passions. Learn more about how the Pat Tillman Foundation is molding the next generation of leaders.

Member Supports Policy Action on Opioid Overdoses

Sept 30, 2018

Member and Operations Director, Matt Miclette, discusses substance use disorder, the opiod epidemic, stigma, policy and treatment in this interview with Jack Ford.

Member Founds Team Foster and Leads 5th Year

Sept 18, 2018 

Action Tank member, Nick Liermann, entered his fifth year as the leader of Team Foster, a service organization that raises money to partner service dogs with veterans suffering from combat-related disabilities including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). More information can be found at Team Foster's website.

Start-up Applies Tech to Mental Health Compliance

Aug 30, 2018 

Action Tank alumnus Chris Molaro's company, NeuroFlow, brings technology to behavioral health treatment and compliance. Its cloud-based platform enables health-care providers to track, assess, and encourage patients. Read more...

Member Speaks at Pat Tillman Leadership Summit

Aug 22, 2018 

Matt Miclette, Action Tank member and Pat Tillman Scholar, speaks at the Pat Tillman Leadership Summit about Medically Assisted Treatment for opioid addiction. Read more about the Pat Tillman Foundation.

Action Tank at SXSW 2019!

March 20, 2018 

Action Tank is proud to announce that our member, Matt Miclette, will participate in a panel discussion on “Policy & Solutions to the Opioid Epidemic” at SXSW 2019! More information can be found here.

Member Shines in PennToday Interview

March 14, 2018 

Matt Miclette has been a key member of Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney's Opioid Task Force. Read his interview with PennToday.

Executive Director and Co-Founder of Philadelphia Based Community Advocacy Group Recognized by SXSW on National Stage in Austin, TX.

March 12, 2018 

In the annual famous gathering of techies, producers creators and artists, known as South by Southwest, aka SXSW, a small group of Veterans from Philadelphia were recognized on the national stage in Austin, TX.  Action Tank, was picked to receive the 2018 SXSW Community Service Awards for their work they’ve done to start, grow and run a non-profit focused on making an impact in their community.  The awards ceremony brought together 6 individuals from 6 organizations around the country to honor them for their work in doing good for their respective causes. They were all presented with a financial grants to help fund their work for the next year.

Chris Diaz, the organization’s executive director and co-founder was joined by their policy director, Matt Miclette.  Chris, a Navy Veteran and Pat Tillman scholar currently pursuing his PhD at Drexel University in clinical psychology said, “it’s surreal to be here, in Austin, TX, recognized for the work we’ve done as a collective group over the last year.  Part of me is honored to be here and to help spread the word that Veterans want to continue to serve and be an integral part of our community, even after wearing the uniform. Part of me is also humbled because we [Action Tank] believe there is still so much work to be done.”

Action Tank was formed when like-minded Veterans from Philadelphia gathered for a meal on Veterans Day in 2016.  They wanted to give back, but they were not quite sure how to do so.

Philadelphia, unfortunately, has been heavily impacted by the Nation’s opioid crisis, and so, for 2017, the group set their eyes on helping to support their community and those that dedicate their daily lives to that issue.

Their intent is that every year they will focus on a new issue in their community.  2017 was the opioid crisis - volunteering at drug and addiction clinics, cleaning up needles in parks and introducing policy and legislation that will reduce overdoses and ultimately save lives.

In 2018, the group is focused on food safety and insecurity, and currently working to form relationships with key partners in the area who needs support and can help educate the rest of the community on the issue.

Diaz explained further that “we each served our country because we felt a calling.  Now that we’re Veterans and living in our community, that calling hasn’t subsided, and this is our way to continue to serve.  We hope that we can inspire other Veterans in their communities to do the same, and even reach out, to collaborate and open their own ‘Action Tank’ chapters around the country.”

Action Tank tackles tough problems by harnessing the experiences, skills, and relationships of service-minded citizens to improve the social conditions of our community.

They are a group of Philadelphia-area military veterans who formed a new type of service organization. Beyond just thinking about the problems facing our community, they act by engaging their skills, resources and relationships.

They believe they have learned the necessity of this social capital - and who better to take on these societal problems than those who have previously taken on these challenges together, in uniform and service to the country? They believe that their experience as Veterans has led to a unique type of growth and resilience that can be leveraged for the benefit of our community. Philadelphia, with her rich history of serving as the founding city of our military branches, is perfectly suited to launch this initiative.

Action Tank is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Our Employer Identification Number is 82-2327032.

About SXSW Community Service Awards

The SXSW Community Service Awards celebrate the spirit of community in Austin that we think is unique to SXSW by selecting six individuals and six organizations to receive grants to further their goals, complimentary badges to SXSW, and a chance to spread the word about their work to the SXSW community. These outstanding organizations and individuals selected as 2018 honorees will receive more than $50,000 in grants and were honored in a ceremony on March 12, 2018 during SXSW.

When selecting these honorees, we looked for uniqueness, level of impact, clarity of mission, relationship to Austin, and the SXSW community. All of these individuals and organizations are reflections of those qualities. Read below for more information about the 12 honorees and please join us in March to celebrate their achievements.

Common Threads Bind to Fight Opioid CrisisJULY 1, 2017A group of Philadelphia-area post-9/11 Veterans formed a new type of service organization in November 2016. Beyond just thinking about the problems facing our community, we are acting by engaging our skills, resources and relationships, hence our name, Action Tank.“The ultimate, most holy form of theory is action.” by Nikos Kazantzakis
The idea for Action Tank was born at an impromptu lunch on Veterans Day in 2016, when Chris Diaz, Navy veteran, persuaded a dozen veteran friends to join him for a meal. The veterans who showed up—all of whom had served in different branches of the service and now worked in a variety of industries—were surprised that they lived and operated in Philadelphia for several years but had never crossed paths. They were also moved by the conversation that afternoon: about service and community and the desire they all shared to continue to serve in the place they called home. They left that lunch committed to do more.The nonpartisan group has acted boldly. To start, Action Tank has set its sights on helping to address Philadelphia’s opioid crisis, one of the greatest challenges to the city in at least a generation. Fortunately, a founding member of the organization is Matthew Miclette, an Army veteran currently conducting policy research at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the foremost experts in the city on curbing opioid addiction. Action Tank has already issued a clarion call and has met formally with members of the Philadelphia City Council and influential nonprofit organizations to propose solutions and offer the services of its members in this fight. Those members include attorneys, entrepreneurs, scientists, nonprofit directors and candidates for public office. All of them are determined to do what it takes to move Philadelphia forward in the face of this terrible epidemic.Six months from the initial lunch meeting, several service projects and a dozen more members later, Action Tank is a thing—specifically, as its mission statement reads, “Action Tank solves tough problems aimed at improving the social conditions of their community by harnessing the experiences, skills and relationships of service-minded citizens.” Much is written about the divide that exists between civilians and veterans or how veterans are somehow “broken” from their service. Our focus is not on our differences, but on what binds us together.Action Tank has observed the erosion of people’s willingness to work and live for the function of an effective society. We have learned the necessity of this social capital. Who better to take on these societal problems than those who have previously taken on these challenges together? Our experience as veterans has led to a unique type of growth and resilience that can be leveraged for the benefit of our community. Philadelphia, with her rich history of serving as the founding city of our military branches, is perfectly suited to launch this initiative.The above article was written by Action Tank member Ryan Peters and adapted from the Philadelphia Bar Reporter, Vol. 46, No. 7 from July 2017.RYAN PETERS, OPIOID CRISIS, PHILADELPHIA BAR REPORTER

Action Tank Featured in Billy Penn

MAY 10, 2017

“There is this idea of the veteran being broken,” Diaz said, “when in reality we’ve demonstrated again and again being civic assets.”Read an interview with Billy Penn featuring group members Chris Diaz, Ryan Peters and Matt Miclette.