We all endure transitions in our lives – changes in home, family, health, age, profession, and capital are part of the human experience. I’m no stranger to change, but I’ve not found comfort in how to mark change with words. Today is my last as President of The Mission Continues. As I hand over the privilege of leadership to my colleague and friend, Mary Beth Bruggeman, how do I properly convey what this organization means to me, and the countless ways this veteran-led service movement has fulfilled me? While the perfect words escape me, I take comfort in knowing that transitions, and hand-offs, are not just elements of the human experience – they are the foundation of the American experiment.
As a young first lieutenant, I led a company of Marines into Iraq in March 2003. Our mission was to prepare a hasty airfield that would supply fuel and ammunition to the Marines in the thick of the fighting. It was the culmination of years of education and relentless training, and everything I had prepared for up to that moment in my life.
Years later, the time came to transition off of active duty. On that final day as an active duty Marine, I folded up my uniform for the last time, tucked it away in my closet and felt an emptiness that swallowed me whole. I was cut off from my tribe, and I felt like all of my potential suddenly lacked direction or momentum.
At The Mission Continues, we are deeply convinced that veterans possess the drive and desire to serve others. But without access to the tools needed to continue serving, their potential to make meaningful impact at the local level remains untapped.
The Mission Continues has a solution, and we need your support to make it possible.
Over the next three years, we will empower 1,000+ veteran leaders, mobilize 70,000 volunteers in service, and positively influence millions of people in communities nationwide. Community and veteran side by side, revitalizing a neighborhood or refurbishing a school—this is the power of The Mission Continues. By inspiring collective action, we can help break down barriers and build stronger communities. I’ve seen this model work in community after community and it will guide our journey over the next three years.
This same spirit of service will also guide my journey at the helm of The Mission Continues. Since 2015, my mission has continued as a regional leader and most recently as our Vice President of Programs. This month I will succeed my friend and mentor Spencer Kympton as President of The Mission Continues. I’m inspired by this new chapter for The Mission Continues, and I’m excited about our clear vision through 2021 that together will propel us into the next phase of veteran and community service.
By donating today, you’re creating an opportunity for veterans to discover new possibilities as leaders, and for communities to see veterans in a new light—not as superheroes, but as fellow Americans coming together around a common higher purpose. We raised our hands to serve our country, and our country still needs us. With your support, we can ensure all veterans with a desire to continue their service have an opportunity to join this movement.
Yours In Service,
Mary Beth Bruggeman President, The Mission Continues
While Miami’s 1st Service Platoon has been dedicated to environmental conservation and stewardship, most of it has been done on land. They wanted to branch out to water-based efforts as well. They didn’t have to look far. Given how integral the water is to life in Florida and the ecosystem of South Florida, they decided to help in one of the places it’s needed most: dying coral reefs.
Coral reefs are the bedrock of life for many species of sea life, and are largely hailed as the most biologically diverse places on Earth. Their health is crucial, which makes any effort to help them all the more crucial as well.
The Miami 1st Service Platoon partnered with the University of Miami’s Rescue A Reef scientific team to send 40 veteran/active duty platoon members out on two coral reef restoration dives in Biscayne National Park. The group emplaced over 225+ corals and activated a new wave of veteran citizen scientists!
We wrapped up an incredible week in Puerto Rico for our two-day long service project, Operation El Morro: Independence Restoration on July 2nd-3rd.
The week started with a partnership gathering co-hosted with the National Parks Conservation Association. We wanted to bring together all current partners and our veteran leaders in Puerto Rico to celebrate our collective impact and discuss future projects.
It’s not controversial at this point to say that our nation is undergoing transformation, and the fight to define the path we take is having an enormous impact in every community around the country.
In our best moments as a nation, we’ve tapped military veterans as central players in those transformations, leaders at every level, from national strategy to community service. The time is here for another cohort of military leaders to enter the arena, to put their collective fingers on the scales and help define a path forward for the nation, to help work towards a more unified future.
(On duty with Operation Charm City Charge, a group of more than 90 veterans from 24 states, tackling pockets of the city that need their grit and greatness.)
It was 0900 on a Saturday morning and I was about to find out what I was made of—alongside some of America’s veterans. We were tackling vacant lots in Harlem Park West as part of The Mission Continues’ week-long Mass Deployment that chose Baltimore for what is called Operation Charm City Charge. On this day, veterans, community leaders and volunteers had 7 hours to make magic.