When my son was younger, I loved reading him a children’s book about a community in Chad, Africa. Following the rainy season each year, neighbors came together to rebuild the local school, which they’d made the previous year from mud bricks. The bricks eroded in the rains, and people of all ages joined hands to erect a new building. It is a beautiful tale of shared experience and purpose.
I’m drawn to stories of collective action: modern “barn raisings” where communities come together to build playgrounds in urban centers, revitalize and restore our schools, and repair homes for those in need. It’s both the outcome(structures that are needed by the community) and the process (endeavors that bring people together in sweat, challenge, and joy) that make these stories inspiring.
As a country, we seem to have lost our way in this regard. As we succumb to the many forces that divide us, we lose out on both the structures, and the bonds, that result from shared experience and shared purpose.
The good news is that there are ways to restore this human characteristic and long-standing aspect of our country’s history. With your help, The Mission Continues is building a veteran-led movement to recapture unity. By locking arms in support of shared missions, veterans and their neighbors are addressing important needs in under-resourced communities across the country.
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.
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.
Volunteering with The Mission Continues has exposed me to people that come from all walks of life
We live in a time when our nation is divided along many lines. Political affiliations, religious beliefs, and personal convictions all set people apart. We hold tight to our beliefs and our individuality, pledging allegiance to the causes we deem worthy.
There is nothing wrong with that.
Because I see that this division stems from the passion that American citizens have for the land we call home. Ultimately, we all want the best outcomes for our country; we strive for brotherhood and unity. We are all unique, and no two people are exactly the same.
I believe that’s what makes us strong as a nation.
And yet, among this division, there is an even more powerful force that can draw even the most divided close.
This force is service!
When we shift our focus to serving as a unit, which I’ve learned is The Mission Continues way, something occurs that is hard to put into words. It illuminates the human spirit. Continue reading “Divided We Serve”
The terrorist attacks of 9/11 affected all of us in one way or another. For some, it meant deployment. For others, it meant the loss of a loved one and a charred city. And for all Americans, it meant a shaken country and the dawn of a new era.
“I remember the day well, as most Americans do,” says Melissa Shipley, a longtime volunteer with The Mission Continues. “I remember turning on the television and being in complete shock. I felt so many different emotions–anger, fear, sadness.”
But it wasn’t until she started getting involved with veteran service organizations like The Mission Continues that she met veterans who had actually deployed because of it.
The military isn’t the only way one can be of service to country.
The drive to serve isn’t borne by servicemembers and veterans alone; it is the flag under which veterans and civilians unite.
An integral part of our philosophy is that while continued service can play an important role in veterans’ lives, change can only happen when we join hands with the next generation of Americans: our youth. Just as we enlist veterans to serve where their community needs it most, AmeriCorps enlists young adults to do the same.
In our experience, both AmeriCorps alumni and veterans come away from their experience with a drive to continue serving. While it’s no question that the military and AmeriCorps are vastly different, there are a few notable common threads. Like the military, AmeriCorps provides young adults in their formative years a unique opportunity to shape their careers, experience comradery, grow personally, find their niche, and even find a sense of purpose. In this way, government programs like AmeriCorps are an important part of the service ecosystem in which we live.Continue reading “AmeriCorps: Another Way to Serve Your Country”
January 22, 2017 By Mike Plue, San Diego 2nd Platoon
On the blog we’ve discussed the identity and experiences of post-9/11 veterans a lot. But we also want to hear from pre-9/11 veterans with their wealth of experience and dedication to service. The two generations share more in common than meets the eye. We interviewed Mike Plue, a stalwart member of the San Diego 2nd Service Platoon, to talk about his perspective and experience as a pre-9/11 veteran.
Over the years he has collected these inspiring takeaways:
The veteran bond transcends generation
Throughout my civilian career I have come into contact with veterans, and regardless of branch or era, I have felt an immediate bond and higher level of trust. (I even was hired by my current employer based upon the referral of a veteran that I met over 10 years before.)
But what really solidified this lesson for me was when I had the honor of visiting the VA hospital in San Diego delivering care packages. I spoke with veterans who had their careers in the military and some who had only served for a few years. All who I spoke with had worked to establish successful civilian careers, and had raised families after coming home. At the end of the day, all agreed that the military was the greatest time in their life, and that enlisting was the best decision they could have made.
I’ve realized whether you are a pre-9/11 or post-9/11 veteran, there is always the common calling to get involved with something “bigger than yourself.” With time comes perspective, and like the veterans I visited at the VA, you realize the calling to serve whether it be to pick up a rifle or a paint brush. Even after we leave active duty, we are a band of brothers and sisters, and we are here to make the world a better place.
I’ve worked professionally with volunteers for a decade now. I meet a lot of people. Hundreds. Some I see every day, and others every now and then. Many others I just see once and never again.
It’s my job to give them missions, find tasks that suit their talents, work alongside them, even become their friends. They are all just people looking for a little fulfillment or a sense of purpose. They serve, they get warm fuzzies, and they carry on with their lives.
Now I work for The Mission Continues. The bulk of our volunteers are veterans, and some of them are figuring out what’s next. Which doesn’t sound too different than most people I know. You don’t have to return from a battlefield or leave the military to be uncertain about what the future will bring.
But when I tell people that I help put veterans in a position to improve their communities, I typically get two types of responses.