On Saturday, November 3, veteran leaders drove large-scale impact in Orlando, Florida in celebration of Veterans Day. Saturday’s event is just the beginning of The Mission Continues’ Veterans Day service campaign, in which 50 cities will be celebrating veterans by joining forces with them in community impact.
Fifty platoon members from Miami, Broward County, Tampa, and Jacksonville joined Orlando 1st and 2nd Service Platoons for a high-impact project. Volunteers built furniture for displaced Puerto Rican families resettling in central Florida.
Hurricane Maria forced more than 2,000 Puerto Rican families to evacuate to central Florida with only their most personal possessions in tow, leaving behind heavier items such as furniture.
We just may have what you didn’t know was missing.
By Sean Tyler, volunteer
One of the biggest challenges in my life was leaving the U.S. Army after over 15 years of service as an enlisted Infantryman and a commissioned Medical Service Corps Officer.
I medically retired in December of 2013, and for lack of better words, I was not prepared. In 2012 I was diagnosed with PTSD and had significant damage to both my hip and back; I received a total hip replacement that same year. My last two years of active duty were full of surgeries, medical, and mental health appointments. The combination of these ailments led to my medical retirement.
To me at the time, being non-deployable was a death sentence for my career, and a PTSD diagnosis was a death sentence for my soul. I felt as if I was broken beyond repair and obliged to fulfill my new moniker as a “dysfunctional veteran.” I dove head first into self-loathing and alcohol abuse to numb my emptiness and despair.
For the launch of our newest program, the Service Leadership Corps, 50+ veterans gathered in Newark, New Jersey to engage in innovative leadership training and community service. The weekend marked the beginning of their commitment as they embarked on our 6-month program to tackle some of our nation’s toughest challenges by partnering with community organizations on a local level.
We’d like to thank our sponsors, Bob Woodruff Foundation, Boeing, and CarMax, for making this program possible.
It was truly an energizing experience to have so many impact-minded veterans gathered in a professional setting. Conversations were productive. Connections were purposeful. Outcomes and goals were concrete.
The weekend was about the same three things that The Mission Continues is all about — connectedness, community impact, and personal growth.
We teamed up with The Cardinals, Fox Sports Midwest and The Boeing Company to make a difference in the lives of Missouri youth through the Missouri Division of Youth Services. This is a true testament to the power of partnerships. Check out the video!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
On Saturday, August 11th, 2018, more than 100 veterans, community members and partner volunteers reported for duty in Seattle’s International District for the 2018 Seattle Service Block Party. For this day of service, volunteers focused on driving local impact on behalf of immigrant and refugee communities in the heart of Seattle’s International District.
With support from Starbucks, The Mission Continues volunteers collaborated with The Danny Woo Community Garden and InterIm CDA to help beautify the neighborhood. This synergy was riding on the initial momentum garnered by the Schultz Family Foundation, who gave initial support for the Service Platoon Program’s spread to Seattle.