Liz Skilbeck grew up listening to stories of her grandfather’s service as a U.S. Navy Captain. Although she tried out college she couldn’t shake the urge to enlist. In 2001, she raised her right hand and served nearly four years as an explosive ordnance disposal technician in the Air Force. Her position took her on Secret Service missions all over the Middle East before she was medically discharged in 2005.
I am always happy when a group of volunteers come to help out at our youth center. All the hard and unsung work you’ve done trying to make a difference in your community is somehow substantiated when people think enough to take time out of their schedules to help you out. It’s always a special time for me, but it’s never been as emotional as it was when the veterans from The Mission Continues came to our door. I felt an immediate connection.
My cousin Al Wooten, Jr. was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1989. His mother, Myrtle Faye Rumph, founded our youth center a year later in his honor. His murder and the potential impact of gang violence on our youth is a major driving factor in our lives. When I greeted the veterans who came to volunteer, I thought about the violence some of them had endured and how, despite their turmoil, they were here at our doorstep wanting to serve once again. It reminded me of my aunt pushing past her trauma to help others.
Eric Greitens, founder of The Mission Continues, made his debut on the The Daily Show with Jon Stewart last spring. His appearance coincided with the start of our 2013 Bravo Class Orientation and the induction of 70 veterans to The Mission Continues Fellowship Program.
“I know the kids are going to go crazy on Monday, the ones that are here are already smiling, that somebody says there are people who love you…It makes them feel good. We feel like that just because you’re in the inner center doesn’t mean you don’t deserve the best.”
The veterans of 1st Platoon Los Angeles recently deployed to Al Wooten Jr. Heritage Center. The center provides a safe and nurturing environment where boys and girls ages 8 to 18 can participate in academic enrichment programs and recreational activities exploring a world of opportunities.