May 23, 2017
By Mason Leist, Fellow
I was in the fifth grade when I saw the terrorist attacks of 9/11 unfold on television. Though I was only a child, the day left me with a strong desire to defend my country. The call to serve rang even louder as I grew up listening to my granddad and uncle telling stories of their time at war. I answered the call when I joined the United States Army at the age of 20, and deployed to Afghanistan soon thereafter. It was time for me to live my own war stories.
As an infantryman I trained the Afghanistan Uniformed Police to make the roads safe for civilian travel. I was proud of the work I did to support my team. Though I was grateful that we all got home in one piece, the person who came home in 2015 stood in stark contrast to the one who enlisted in 2012. The smallest things incensed me. So I drank and told myself things would be better in a couple months. A couple months came and went. I was still drunk and still mad.
Seeing the effect this had on those I loved made me come to terms with post-traumatic stress and seek help through the PTSD Foundation of America. After I navigated my own challenges, I knew it was time for me to forge my own path forward. Luckily a friend introduced me to The Mission Continues, and just like that, it was time to find my sense of purpose again.
That’s what made The Mission Continues stand out to me: they inspired me by proving I could change the world, starting in my own community.
My Mission Continues Fellowship at the PTSD Foundation of America empowers me to do exactly that in my city of San Antonio. I bring the community together by mentoring veterans and their families. After my six-month fellowship concludes, I hope to do even more to help veterans like myself navigate the challenges of PTSD.
Change happens from the ground up — and that starts with me. It’s why I enlisted in the military, and it’s why I continue to serve today. It’s also why I ask you to support veterans like me who are impacting their communities through fellowships and service platoons all over the country.
I was inspired to serve by the war stories of my uncle and grandfather. And now, with your support, my generation of veterans has its own stories to tell: stories of how we continued serving our country even after we came home.
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.