I Found a Home in Military Green, then Mission Continues Blue

October 16, 2018
By David Riera, Volunteer

Miami’s 1st and Broward’s 1st platoons have two unique things in mind: environmental stewardship and youth development. It is within this cross-sectional focus that the two platoons come together and literally build community, one nail and wooden plank at time.

As a member of this community, I have found strength, not through the force of hands; wisdom, not through the wealth of experience; and kinship, not through the number of bodies. I have discovered these attributes and more, like empathy, kindness and sacrifice through their capacity to accept me as I am.

My Struggle to Find Acceptance

Growing up in Miami as an Afro-Hispanic American was difficult. Both of my parents were immigrants, one from Cuba and the other from Spain, and this is where I joined my first uncommon team of many to come.

My dad, a very learned man, read the following to me:

We came to America. Either ourselves or in the persons of our ancestors, to better the ideals of men, to make them see finer things than they seen before, to get rid of the things that divided and to make sure of the thing that united.

Woodrow Wilson

I reflect on this quote by Woodrow Wilson a lot with my dad, because this is a deeper understanding and illustration of the American Dream. A dream which many families from all over the world risk life and death to attain, sometimes for themselves, but more often for their children.

How the Military Surprised Me

My father never wanted me to join the military, as he had served in Spain and knew that a military life would a hard life, especially with the history of non-acceptance in the U.S. military from race to creed and from color to sexual orientation.

What a relief it was when I got to Parris Island and everyone was getting screamed at equally!

I learned at that recruit depot that we were all one color green with different shades, from light green to dark green and all the points in between. I didn’t know how I fit in, but I knew that I was on the green line of shades.

Then, I Lost My Green Family

After Iraq, returning to civilian life, I didn’t see the green continuum of shades anymore; I saw racism, ageism, and genderism, discrimination for being disabled (physically, mentally, and emotionally) or of a certain religious, social, or institutional background. I have even felt discriminated for being a veteran.

Losing my community truly obscured my identity.

My New, Blue Family

Three years ago in San Antonio, TX, I felt that identity resurge within me. Instead of a green line, I now stood on a blue line.

And yes, one might think we are Smurfs when we get together. Our sense of community (common + unity) is built during social events and service projects. We are like a lean, mean, green machine–some of us less lean and others a bit more mean, but we all come together to continue the mission. We don’t do this to just accomplish our own dreams, but so that we may help families, friends, neighborhoods and partner nonprofits realize theirs.

As Wilson said, and my dad would agree, we CAN break the barriers that divide us to ensure that things, places, and people stay united.

Now, alongside the nonprofit organization GEN2050, the Miami and Broward 1st platoons restored and rebuilt this community’s garden, a living laboratory for youth discovery and therapy.

I Went from Green to Blue, and You Can Too!

While the places and faces may change, the fact is that we are all immigrants or descendants of immigrants. There will always be a place for you to belong, and a mission to continue.

I invite you and your family to join our Smurfy group of blue-shirt volunteers.

Why I’m Passionate about Veteran Community Leaders

What was at first a volunteer passion project has turned into a career.

By Nitza Rivera, volunteer

I have been able to see first-hand how something that may seem so insignificant to one person, can improve the quality of life for another.

I truly believe that veteran leadership in our communities is just as important for the veteran as it is for the community it’s impacting.

With all my military moves through the different parts of this country and abroad, one thing remains constant, and that is the lack of leadership within our communities. It doesn’t necessarily mean that communities don’t care, I think that a lot of the times community members don’t know who to reach out to or where to look for guidance.

Planting and Clearing Garden Beds at Seeds of Faith Community Garden

For me, and other veterans, leaving the service left a void in our passion to serve others. Having the opportunity to use our leadership experience to serve and help mentor members in our communities fills that void. It also provides a platform of peer support for other veterans within the community, and the opportunity for the community to interact and learn about veterans.

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Boston Veteran Finds a Home in Solving Homelessness

October 3, 2018
By Kat Saldana, platoon leader

Integration back into civilian life was a bit of a struggle for me. The biggest struggle was losing my soldier identity and the camaraderie that came with it. On top of that, I became a military spouse, and that in itself has its own set of obstacles. I never really had time to process what that loss looked like because I just went from one role into another and then straight into motherhood.

Kat Saldana

I was often lonely because I didn’t have anyone that understood what I went through. I struggled mentally and emotionally to find someone that would understand my loss, and when you don’t live close to military installations, it is near impossible to find those people.  

It took me a long time to reach out for mental health resources partly because of my busy schedule, but partly due to the stigmatization of reaching out for help — it made you weak.

I wouldn’t cry. Alcohol was my way of coping. I was slowly spiraling mentally and emotionally out of control.

As it would happen, I found The Mission Continues in 2017 at one of the lowest points in my life. My depression and anxiety were in high gear and I was having suicidal ideations.

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The Mission Continues Launches Innovative Veterans Leadership Program

PRESS RELEASE

The veterans’ nonprofit is kicking off the new six-month, intensive training program by bringing together more than 50 veterans for a weekend-long event in Newark

NEW YORK (PRWEB) OCTOBER 02, 2018

Veterans’ nonprofit, The Mission Continues, is empowering veterans as community-based leaders with the launch of its latest program, the Service Leadership Corps. The program is an opportunity for civic-minded veterans to serve on the community level, while further developing their leadership abilities. Through the implementation of the renowned Human-Centered Design framework by the LUMA Institute and custom designed educational objectives, veterans will learn new ways to identify and address our nation’s most critical issues as advocates for change.

The Service Leadership Corps (SLC) will provide veterans with an immersive curriculum that includes engaging workshops, online learning, collaborative assignments, and experiential learning. In partnership with non-profit organizations, Corps members will apply their training to address the most significant challenges within a given community.

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Houston Hosts Platoon Leadership Summit 2018

September 28, 2018

We see veterans as assets, not liabilities. This strongly held belief is core to our programs and events, and Platoon Leadership Summit is no exception. For 2018’s Summit, our goal was to support veteran leaders in our Service Platoon Program in their personal growth, connectedness with other veterans, throughout communities, and within themselves.

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Chris Hayes on Why The Mission Continues’ Unique Model Is Not Replaceable

September 25, 2018

On September 18th we hosted our annual Commitment to Service Breakfast, a gathering of individuals who believe in supporting our work. This year’s event was held at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan.

Our president, Spencer Kympton and our Northeast Region executive director Mohan Sivaloganathan welcomed guests with opening remarks. We also heard from Joey Whimple about his transformative experience volunteering with The Mission Continues.

Loree Sutton, Commissioner at New York City Department of Veterans Services presented us with a Certificate of Recognition for our contributions to veterans in New York City. We also bestowed Community Solutions’ Brownsville Partnership with our Commitment to Service Award. Taurean Lewis, Resource Specialist for Community Solutions and Brownsville resident, accepted the award.

Our keynote speaker was Chris Hayes, Host of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes. His speech was so moving that we wanted to share it with you in full:

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5 Tips to Help You Plan Awesome Service Projects

September 20, 2018
By Marvin Cadet, Mission Continues Staff

Running service projects requires a lot of planning, coordination, and execution. Projects can include tasks such as painting classrooms, building pergolas & benches, and landscaping a large open space.  You have to gather input from a number of different people to ensure you’re fulfilling a need the community truly wants.

As you get closer to the day of the project, things get a lot crazier as everyone scrambles to check things off their to-do list, make sure all the materials are prepped and ensure it’s a great event.

Believe it or not, project planning gets easier the more you do it. Here are 5 tips to help you plan awesome service projects!

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The Impact of Operation Watts Is Worth It

September 12, 2018

This summer was FULL of impact, from the Summer Service Slam, Mass Deployment, a jam-packed schedule of service projects throughout the country (rockin’ it, as usual), and a ton of impressive Service Leadership Corps applications. 

Mass Deployment 2018–Operation Watts Is Worth It was a unique service opportunity, and we wanted to share the results with you. See for yourself what veterans accomplished in Watts!

Thank you to all the veterans who stepped up to SERVE AGAIN this summer! Know that you are leading positive change through your commitment to your communities. We can’t wait to see you for our September United In Service campaign!

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Veterans With The Mission Continues Unite in Service to Honor the Anniversary of 9/11

PRESS RELEASE

Month-Long Service Campaign to Create Transformational Community Change

NEW YORK (PRWEB) SEPTEMBER 10, 2018 — This September, over 500 veteran volunteers from The Mission Continues are uniting in service, with support from The Starbucks Foundation, to honor the 17th anniversary of September 11, 2001. The Mission Continues is a nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to find growth, purpose, and connection through community impact.

In reverence for those affected and who served in the wake of 9/11, The Mission Continues has organized United in Service, a month-long campaign of inspired community service projects. Nationwide, 55 veteran-led service platoons will mobilize to tackle local needs such as under-resourced schools, disaster relief and safe access to green space.

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