Veterans Create Stars of Hope in Puerto Rico

May 24, 2017

On Saturday, April 28, veterans from The Mission Continues Puerto Rico Service Platoon partnered with Panamericano Hospital for an impactful day of service they dubbed Stars of Hope.

Since Hurricane Maria struck the island, veterans and community members from The Mission Continues Service Platoons in Puerto Rico, Miami and Orlando have been working hard to provide support and service to the individuals, families and communities impacted by the hurricane’s devastation.

May 24th, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

You Are Never Too Far Gone to Make it Back Again

May 23, 2018
By Luke Merideth, Fellow

I have been a medic, a nurse, an electrician, a drug dealer and a chaplain. That last career change was, of course, the most substantial. This is the story of how I overcame drug addiction and am now helping others do the same.

I don’t remember a time when my mother was not on drugs, and I do remember being hungrier than I should have been. Though my mother struggled, she taught my siblings and me how to love others even when she was not very good to herself. I moved out when I was 16 years old, forging paperwork to sign myself into high school as a minor.

Once I was in the military I soon found a camaraderie and acceptance I had been looking for. I wasn’t the poor kid, I was an equal. There was no black or white or brown, we were all green. (Or blue, or tan, depending on which uniform we were wearing, but you get the idea.)

Then came 9/11…Afghanistan…Iraq. I had no idea what to do. What I found is that all of the people getting deployed with me to a war zone were regular human beings like me. We banded together and did the job, but the job was ugly.

I was a Naval Hospital Corpsman deployed in support of the Marines to Al Qi’Im, a city in Iraq near the border of Syria. We received mortar fire, but much worse were the casualties from the patrols in town.

I ate breakfast with friends and then saw them die on my table hours later. We banded together and we did the job, the ugly job, and we decided to bottle it up and feel it later.

It took a while… but later came.

May 23rd, 2018|All, Fellowships|

Essential to My Wellness Is My Mission to Protect National Parks

May 17, 2018
By Jason Kucinski, Platoon Leadership Team Member

The Mission Continues

Why Conservation is Important to Me

I grew up in the outdoors — the mountains, the woods, the lakes. I’ve had the privilege to see places most people look at on a postcard or in National Geographic. And even now, I spend every chance I get to hit the trails and hike (or as John Muir called it, “sauntering”).

I’m also a 14-year Air Force veteran. Like many veterans, I battle with those inner demons and have physical issues. Going hiking and spending time on the trail and in the National Parks is my outlet. If I stopped moving, I think I would hurt more.

It’s my version of Ecotherapy. If you haven’t heard of Ecotherapy, or know very little about it, let me explain. Ecotherapy is the name given to a wide range of treatment programs which aim to improve your mental and physical wellbeing through doing activities in nature. Connecting with nature in this way can have lots of positive health benefits, and is being used to help veterans.

May 17th, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

Now a Veteran, Chicago Native Volunteers to End Gun Violence

May 16, 2018

Rogelio was born and raised in the South Side of Chicago, and found his sense of purpose when he joined the Army National Guard in 2005. Three years later he deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

As a gunner Rogelio’s primary job was to be the eyes and ears for his truck team, and first line of defense for his convoy. However, the most challenging part for him during his deployment was being separated from his two young daughters. To push through, he focused on his mission and duty to his team.

However, the most challenging part for him during his deployment was being separated from his two young daughters. To push through, he focused on his mission and duty to his team.

After six years of service, Rogelio was honorably discharged from the US Army in 2011. “Some of the challenges I faced reintegrating back in the civilian life were pretty rough,” Rogelio recounts. “My second daughter was only about 7 months old when I deployed. I came back a year later she didn’t know who I was, and would run away from me when I tried to hug her.”

When Rogelio returned home to Chicago he also struggled to find work. He said, “I needed a mission in my life to help me deal with my personal issues, one of these being PTSD.” Motivated by his sense of civic duty, he found a new mission volunteering as a mentor at the YMCA’s Urban Warriors program, which connects at-risk youth with veteran mentors.

May 16th, 2018|All, Fellowships|

A Veteran Mother, Embarking on Her Post-Military Career

May 13, 2018
By Sarah Silva, Fellow Alumna

My fellowship with The Mission Continues has had an incredible impact on my life. I spent five years in the Marines. During that time, I met my husband, and we had our two sons.  When I left the Marines in 2011, I was lucky to be able to spend a few years at home with the boys while they were still tiny.

Once they were both in school, I went back too, finally completing my bachelor’s degree. However, as I reached my final year of college, I was no closer to figuring out what I wanted to do with my degree once I had it.

Since moving here, one of the things my family has loved the most about San Antonio is its parks. In particular, we spend a lot of time at Hemisfair, a downtown park that is being redeveloped.  We watch movies on the lawn, attend festivals, and the kids see how filthy they can get between the splash pad and the sand area. We’ve spent a lot of amazing Saturdays together there.

I saw on Facebook that the Hemisfair Conservancy, which handles philanthropic support for Hemisfair, was looking for a veteran to spend six months assisting them in their mission and learning from them as a Mission Continues fellow.

May 13th, 2018|All, Fellowships|

Seattle 1st Platoon, Supporting the Building of Strong Communities

May 10, 2018

Seattle 1st Service Platoon, The Mission Continues

Leading the Seattle 1st Service Platoon’s effort on the ground is Platoon Leader Glen Wright, an Army veteran. The ethos of The Mission Continues resonated with Glen, “I believe my commitment to service did not stop when I received my DD-214 from the military, I committed to a lifetime of service.”

Motivated to continue serving, Glen found that he connected to the mission of Operation Back to the Beach. Through Operation Back to the Beach, Seattle 1st Service Platoon helps under-resourced neighborhoods and supports a number of nonprofit organizations looking to do good. One such place is the Ethiopian Community in Seattle (ECS), which serves refugees and immigrants of Ethiopia and various African descents.

City Impact Manager Doug Pfeffer describes the importance of ECS to the community. “It has day camps for kids, adult meetings, community activities and is a beacon of hope in an otherwise difficult part of the south side of Seattle.”

“I care about the ECS specifically because when I was growing up in South Carolina there was a center in my neighborhood just like the ECS where all the kids went to and had fun, stayed out of trouble, and gave us a sense of community,” said Glen.

May 10th, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

A Snapshot of Service Platoons in 2017

May 9, 2018

May 9th, 2018|All|

One Team. One Mission. #HerMission.

May 5, 2018

The Mission Continues - Women Veterans Leadership Summit 2018

Meet the group of exceptional women veterans who are on the frontlines of community change. There were a total of 75 participants attending the Women Veterans Leadership Summit, and while every woman who attended is a rockstar, we wanted to share a sample cross-section of 10 participants from across the country as examples of the variety of backgrounds, experiences, and stories that are represented at our summit each year.

This is #HerMission.

 

May 5th, 2018|All|

Bringing Peace to a Mind at War

May 3, 2018
By Kazimieras Urbonavicius, Platoon Member

My experiences in the military and transition back home has been anything but easy. It’s been a constant struggle dealing with the demons in my mind, and the environment back home that surrounds me.

Everyone’s experiences in the military are different, but many result in the same outcome: lost. Lost in life, lost in understanding, just good plain old lost. And since leaving the military, service has been the only way that I have found happiness and contentment.

May 3rd, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

An Update on Today’s Report, and Veteran Impact Nationwide

May 2, 2018

To our partners:

Over two consecutive weekends The Mission Continues veterans, alongside hundreds of volunteers, engaged in purposeful action in communities across the country. To mark Earth Day, we completed nearly 30 Earth Day service projects cleaning up parks and other natural landscapes and beautified schools and community green spaces. This past weekend we held our third-annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. This year’s summit, themed Unapologetically Her, brought together nearly 80 of the most impressive, engaged and committed women veterans, local women leaders and volunteers to help champion a movement for all women to write their own rules on how they will live, work and lead.

While we remain steadfastly focused on our mission, we want to share an update involving the investigations of Governor Eric Greitens. As we have said from the beginning, and reiterate here, we abstain from political activities. We deeply value the trust you place in us to accomplish our mission. The Mission Continues did not provide, nor authorize the use of, our donors’ information to any persons or groups for political/campaign purposes. Nor did we promote Governor Greitens for political office.

Earlier today, Missouri State Representative Jay Barnes and the Missouri House Committee released a report with its latest findings regarding The Mission Continues donor list. The report demonstrates The Mission Continues followed all established policies and did not provide, nor authorize the use of, private donor information to the Greitens Group or others affiliated with the Greitens campaign for political purposes.

The full report and findings can be read here.

May 2nd, 2018|All|