Hometown Huddle: A Detroit Veteran’s Day and MLK Day Collaboration

By Emily Ferstle, City Impact Manager

On Veterans Day, The Mission Continues Detroit Platoons were joined by The Detroit Lions, United Way for Southeastern Michigan, Comerica Bank, and Caniff Electric Supply Co. for a day of impact at the Boys & Girls Club of Southeastern Michigan.

Veterans, civilians, community members, and corporate partner employees joined forces to make an impact in the lives of Detroit youth. The Lloyd H. Diehl clubhouse serves 60-100 children and teens daily, and is in continuous need of support to create and maintain a safe, welcoming environment for the youth to gather, learn, and play.

Check out the impact we made for Veterans Day and join us for more during our MLK Day of Service at the clubhouse for Blue Door Blitz!

Continue reading “Hometown Huddle: A Detroit Veteran’s Day and MLK Day Collaboration”

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. Continue reading “Now a Veteran, Chicago Native Volunteers to End Gun Violence”

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. Continue reading “Bringing Peace to a Mind at War”

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. Continue reading “Columbus Ohio 1st Service Platoon Tackles Food Insecurity”

Years After My Fellowship, I Still Live for Others

December 15, 2017
By Tyler Thompson, Fellow Alum

A few years ago, we published a blog post by Tyler Thompson’s mother, Robin Herzog. Today, years after his fellowship has concluded, Tyler still serves his community. “Why?” do you ask? His story will answer your question.

The day I returned to America from Iraq in 2005 was the most pleasurable moment of my entire existence. I felt sheer ecstasy from cheating death several times that year, and knew I would never have to dodge bombs and bullets again in that desolate wasteland.

I separated from the military and began studying Criminal Justice, while working full-time as a supervisor at Starbucks. After a couple years of keeping myself extremely busy, I started to slow down.

And that’s when the PTSD hit me hard. Continue reading “Years After My Fellowship, I Still Live for Others”

The Unexpected Revelations of an Army Spouse

November 17, 2017
By Emily Ferstle Angus, City Impact Manager

Though my tenure as City Impact Manager at The Mission Continues began prior to marrying my husband, an Army reservist, you may be able to imagine that since working here, I’ve dragged him into the mix and he’s become very involved.

Truly, volunteering is the type of work he would do on his own anyway, even if his wife wasn’t asking him to help out her volunteers on a regular basis. He really seems to enjoy the physical nature of the mission and learning about different neighborhoods and their challenges around the city.

He’s one of those guys who is reluctant to volunteer the information that he is a veteran. For someone who identifies his greatest abilities and talents with his job in the Army, this always has been a quandary to me. He is proud to serve, and proud of his reasons why, but he is conservative with that information, reserving it only for his inner circle.

At the Detroit 2nd Platoon Veterans Day project this past weekend, we had a lot of fun and got a lot of work accomplished, but what I will share with you now is the revelation I had as an Army spouse, not as a staff member. Continue reading “The Unexpected Revelations of an Army Spouse”

Why Are We Losing Our Veterans to Deportation?

May 12, 2017
By Carlos Luna, Fellow

Carlos Luna at Alpha 2017 Orientation

You wouldn’t think veterans, their families, and Gold Star families are being deported — but they are.

What spurred me to speak to Chicago’s City Council about this is a story that’s been in the news recently about Miguel Perez Jr.. Miguel is a United States Army veteran who, after serving time for drug-related charges, is facing the possibility of being deported to Mexico, a country he hasn’t seen since he was eight. He deployed to Afghanistan twice, and has relative experience with combat and weapons. He and his family fear he will be forced to serve cartels and gangs if sent to Mexico because of his expertise.

As a veteran and President of League of United Latin American Citizens – Green Card Veterans chapter, I am driven to talk about this issue. Although we are often led to believe that this is an issue that only affects the Mexican community, the fact is that this fight for justice and equality is one that transcends ethnic differences.

When veterans return home, they are met with unemployment, reintegration challenges, lack of support, and lack of purpose. Because of this, veterans are routinely preyed upon by financial institutions, so-called educational institutions, and, in cases like Miguel, by organized crime for his knowledge of weapons and combat. Continue reading “Why Are We Losing Our Veterans to Deportation?”

The Legend of Abner Garcia

August 19, 2016

I want to be remembered as a legend, the person who made a positive difference in people’s lives. – Abner Garcia

AGarciaAbner Garcia, a United States Army veteran and alumnus of The Mission Continues Fellowship Program, was shot and killed on Saturday, August 13, 2016, a mile from his home in southwest Chicago. He was 23 years old.

Abner joined The Mission Continues just over a year ago as a member of our 2015 Charlie Class. Our team asks each veteran entering the program where he or she would like to serve the fellowship. For Abner, the choice was an organization that bridged his experiences as a veteran and as a child of Chicago.

Urban Warriors, a program of the YMCA of Metro Chicago’s Youth Safety and Violence Prevention initiative, pairs military veterans with urban youth in mentor-based relationships. The program is built on a mutual understanding of trauma and perseverance, and empowers participants to take positive action in their communities. Continue reading “The Legend of Abner Garcia”

The Detroit I Know

June 3, 2016
By Courtney Sloat

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They love their city and they don’t want to leave. They have lived here their whole lives and are proud of it. There’s a strong sense of determination and perseverance. Who am I talking about? The people of Detroit.

That’s why I was thrilled when I saw that The Mission Continues was coming to Detroit for an entire week, working alongside local community members and partners to help rebuild our city. I had just joined the Detroit Platoon in order to volunteer in my community while also connecting with fellow veterans in my area, and this seemed like a great opportunity. Continue reading “The Detroit I Know”

Mother And Son Team Up To Serve Others

May 8, 2016

“Mom, they don’t even know me and they come here to make me smile. That is just like what you do, and I want to help too.” Jaiden Henry, eight years old and the son of Chicago’s 1st Platoon Leader Kim McGraw,  had fallen ill and was temporarily hospitalized. To his amazement however, volunteers kept coming by to keep his spirits up.

He has since worked hard alongside his mother to inspire others to do the same.

Continue reading “Mother And Son Team Up To Serve Others”