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|

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|

In Pittsburgh, the Story of How I Made My Veteran Identity Meaningful

March 29, 2018
By Patricia Gerhauser, Platoon Leader

Patricia Gerhauser is a Navy veteran and Mission Continues rockstar. She is not only a fellowship alumna, but is supervising a current fellow, and platoon leader for the Hazelwood Platoon in Pittsburgh, Pa. Patricia was recently selected to attend this year’s Women Veterans Leadership Summit. Read her story to get to know one of our kickass attendees.

March 29th, 2018|All, Fellowships, Service Platoons|

The Start of a New Mission in Puerto Rico

March 24, 2018

It’s been six months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, and U.S. Army veteran Frankie Perez is on a mission to galvanize veterans to build a legacy of service on the island.

To understand his mission, you have to understand Frankie’s story and what this would mean to veterans in Puerto Rico.

The youngest of 10 brothers, Frankie was born and raised in Puerto Rico. He enlisted in the military just months before the

March 24th, 2018|All, Fellowships, Service Platoons|

International Women’s Day: The Unexpected Outcomes of Hitting the Trails

March 8, 2018
By Vanessa Davids, Fellow Alumna

This post originally ran on August 30, 2016. We’re sharing Vanessa’s story again today,  International Women’s Day, as and example of the many women who have found new purpose serving through The Mission Continues’ programs. We need your support to send women like Vanessa to our 3rd Annual Women’s Veterans Leadership Summit in Washington, DC in April. Donate here today.

When I left the Marine Corps, I had my future all laid out. I had big plans for returning to school, having a second child, and supporting my (then) husband’s transition from the military had me feeling like I knew where I was going. Until I didn’t. When my husband became abusive, and I was forced to finally make a choice, I had no idea where my new path would lead. All I knew was that I couldn’t stay a minute longer.

March 8th, 2018|All, Fellowships|

The Battle for (Bio)Diversity

February 23, 2018
By David Riera, Fellow Alum

Social equality – or the lack thereof — has played a deciding role in how communities identify, thrive, survive, or die. Every community — from the veteran community to the conservation community — has to actively find those voices that have been left out of the conversation, and empower them to be heard.

As I reflect on the works of African American legends like Dr. King, George Washington Carver, the Buffalo Soldiers, and other personal heroes of mine, I am prompted to be mindful where social, economic, and environmental justice for all can (and needs to) be intertwined.

Volunteering with the National Parks Conservation Association through The Mission Continues Fellowship Program catapulted me into my desired field: environmental conservation.

Now as a veteran, scientist, and conservationist, I’ve begun to think more about the social dynamics of conservation.

February 23rd, 2018|All, Fellowships|

Meet Latonya Wilson, Mark Weber Award Recipient

February 3, 2018

Latonya Wilson is a veteran and a breast cancer survivor. She earned a Mission Continues Fellowship in 2017, where her dedication to service shone brightly. Here is her story, and why she is exemplary of the values of our dear friend Mark Weber and the Mark Weber Award.

Latonya enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 17 and served for nearly 13 years, with deployments to Korea and Afghanistan under her belt. After separating from the military, she served overseas as a government contractor for nearly eight years.

During this time, she was diagnosed with breast cancer twice and underwent numerous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation.

By 2016, Latonya was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Many people might have given up at this point and been resigned to living out their days in search of relative comfort and peace.

But not Latyona. Inspired by the values she developed in the Army, Latonya dedicated her life to service again. She volunteered with The American Cancer Society, visiting VA Cancer Treatment Facilities to inspire and encourage female cancer patients, fed the homeless at shelters, and assisted a senior housing facilities with daily activities.

February 3rd, 2018|All, Fellowships|

Alpha Class of 2018 Helps Preserve Miami Park Post-Irma

January 29, 2018

Alpha Class 2018 begins their continued service with The Mission Continues in Miami, FL

The Miami 1st Service Platoon welcomed over 100 new fellows and platoon leaders with open arms on Friday, January 26th. The purpose? To convene for a weekend of learning, connecting, and preparing for their new mission.

To show these newcomers what we’re made of, the weekend kicked off on Saturday with a Mission Continues must-have: a service project.

 

New Fellows Get Five Pieces of Advice

Veteran Derek Auguste spoke to the incoming class of fellows, leaving them with five pieces of advice as they begin their journey. Listen to his full speech below.

January 29th, 2018|All, Fellowships, Service Platoons|

MLK’s #LegacyofService: Fighting a Different Kind of War

January 16, 2018
By Jeffrey Davis, Fellow Alum

I’ve learned that there’s more than one kind of veteran. There’s me: someone who’s been in the military. Then, there’s the kind of veteran who fought a different kind of war — a war here at home, and many would say the struggle is ongoing. It is the fight for equal rights.

I completed my Mission Continues fellowship at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, commonly referred to as The King Center. During my fellowship I have learned so much about Dr. and Mrs. King’s work, and now have a far better understanding of the Civil Rights Movement.

While much of my work at The King Center has been in researching, writing, and relationship building, part of my work has been helping with a program called Students with King — and it’s what I want to tell you about today.

January 16th, 2018|All, Fellowships|