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|

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|

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|

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|

Why I’m Looking Forward to Women Veterans Leadership Summit 2018

April 24, 2018
By Karen Quiles, Platoon Member

77 dynamic women veteran leaders will gather in DC for this weekend for our 3rd annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit. Together they’ll engage in communication and writing workshops, experience inspiring speakers, and grow their personal and professional networks.

This is a unique forum to exchange ideas and solutions around the challenges women veterans face while developing pathways to increase women veteran leadership within their communities.

As we countdown the days to the summit, we want to highlight some of our participants and how they came to The Mission Continues. Here’s Karen Quiles’s story.

 

How the Military Empowered Me

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. I grew up in a very humble environment and I had a simple upbringing. Growing up in Puerto Rico was hard for me in many ways. I felt like a lot of programs were out of reach. I started working when I was 15 and became homeless in my late teens, on top of a lack of educational opportunities, family problems, and an unstable government.

I enlisted a little bit after 9/11 with the Marine Corps and had an opportunity to travel and live in other countries. The military was my ticket out of my negative environment. Enlisting opened so many doors that would have otherwise never been available to me.

April 24th, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

The Scars Within Us and the Landscape

April 22, 2018
By David Riera, Mission Continues volunteer

My experience in war-torn Iraq makes me reflect that the land under my feet this very moment in Miami is also embattled, and this time the mission to help it belongs to all of us.

~~~

When I was discharged from the Marine Corps, I had a collection of over 40 MRE (Meal, Ready-to-Eat) Tabasco sauce bottles filled with sand from every place I was deployed in Iraq. They reminded me of my bond to the places I would sooner forget.

As the CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter flew us to secure our first target in Iraq, I saw the landscape cracked and cratered. The sand was piled high to create 10-foot defensive burms. The lakes and streams were poisoned, littered with rotting carcasses. In that moment the price of conflict was grafted onto me.

That’s when I knew scorched earth operations did not just change the land – it changed me too. It was not just about the loss of human life on all sides. It was also about trying to survive in a place where our missions violated the environment every day.

Because the environment, like a warrior, carries its history upon its face.

April 22nd, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

Columbus Ohio 1st Service Platoon Tackles Food Insecurity

April 19, 2018
By Ian Haynes, City Impact Manager

We had an amazing service project recently in Columbus Ohio to kick off our partnership with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank! Our volunteer operations are focused on combating food insecurity on the Southside of the city through work with an urban farm and multiple food pantries. We had 34 volunteers participate, comprised of 14 veterans and 4 new platoon members. This amounted to 136 service hours in which we completed four projects at two sites.

April 19th, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

The Path to Transforming Veterans and Dallas Public Schools

April 6, 2017

Finding That Connection

“I felt for the first time like we were on the same page while volunteering for the service project,” said Nissa Salas, a Mission Continues volunteer in Dallas.

Nissa met her husband Mark Salas after he had separated from the U.S. Marine Corps. Nissa noticed Mark had a hard time relating to her and to other civilians. “He had only one or two friends, and did not trust anyone. His habits were very much military-style and he was shut down from any social activity,” she said.

At the recommendation of their counselor, Nissa and Mark tried volunteer service with The Mission Continues.

Nissa describes their first project. “Our first assignment was painting a computer lab at the Interfaith Housing building, when my husband had just experienced knee surgery. We participated while he was on crutches, and my husband had a smile on his face the entire time.”

April 6th, 2018|All, Service Platoons|

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|