Gloria Was Played the Night History Was Made

By Ali McClung, TMC Staff

Thursday, June 13, I woke up, groggy and exhausted, convinced the history I witnessed the night before was a dream. I reached for my phone and quickly realized that it was not a dream, I don’t even think I could have dreamt up something as miraculous as the St. Louis Blues bringing the cup home.

As a born and raised St. Louisan I have been lucky enough to see my fair share of playoff runs and championships with the St. Louis Cardinals. Conversely, I have also felt the reoccuring heartbreak of being a Blues fan. We would make it to the playoffs but never made it past the conference finals…in 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017. In 2018, we didn’t even qualify. With a track record like that, it would be easy for a city to turn their backs on their team. Not this city.

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The Mission Continues Deploying Veteran Force To Help Build A Stronger Baltimore

Veterans’ nonprofit announces Operation Charm City Charge, sending over 80 volunteers to create meaningful change in Maryland’s largest city for their fourth annual Mass Deployment

BALTIMORE, June 10, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The desire to be of continued service is driving more than 80 U.S. military veterans from across the country to Baltimore for Operation Charm City Charge. The veterans are volunteers with The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that empowers veterans to continue their service and empower communities with veteran talent, skills and preparedness to generate visible impact. Operation Charm City Charge is the organization’s fourth Mass Deployment, a team-based program that mobilizes veterans alongside local partners and volunteers in a single city for a week of community impact.

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Puerto Rico Platoon Springs into Action

Our Puerto Rico 1st Service Platoon focuses on education, well-being, the environment, and rebuilding after Hurricane Maria.

Here are a few cool service projects they accomplished this spring.

JROTC Leadership Project

Veterans serving with The Mission Continues inspire future generations to serve, whether in a civilian or military context. So we like to plug in with students in JROTC programs when we can.

Antilles Academy (K-12) is the first JROTC program in the history of the island of Puerto Rico, and they have an on-site outdoor space that they use for practice and competitions (shooting range and rope bridge).

However, they have not been able to use the space since Hurricane Maria, due to extensive damage.

Over the course of two days (March 8-9th), the platoon joined JROTC youth and staff to clear out the entire area and repaint the shooting range. In total, 23 volunteers and 15 youth participated. As a result of what we accomplished together, the school had their first competition two weeks after the project.

Dia Internacional de Los Bosques

On March 23rd the platoon joined the US Forest Service and Amigos Del Yunque for a day of service and education at El Yunque — the only rainforest in the United States. Rainforests are harbors of incredibly unique biological diversity, some of which are specialized for living specific rainforest layers.

Hurricane Maria’s strong winds felled many trees. We met with the leadership team from US Forest Service and El Yunque last year to learn more about the damage of Hurricane Maria and how our service platoon could support their rebuilding efforts. As a result of careful planning and coordination we were able to bring volunteers into El Yunque.

Volunteers planted flowers and built and painted three recycling bins that will be donated to schools in the local rural community.

Big thanks to the 36 volunteers and 10 youth volunteers who came out to serve.

No Barriers Warriors & Girl Scouts Del Caribe

On April 9th, volunteers from No Barriers Warriors teamed up with volunteers from The Mission Continues to help get a Girl Scouts facility back up on its feet after sustaining severe damage from Hurricane Maria.

No Barriers Warriors is a national nonprofit that several of our platoon members have taken expeditions with, including Frankie, a platoon leader for the Puerto Rico 1st Service Platoon. When they took their first ever expedition to Puerto Rico, we helped them plan and incorporate an element of service into their experience.

Through our partners at El Yunque and the US Forest Service, we learned that the original Girl Scouts Camp, which is located on the border of El Yunque, has been closed to campers since Hurricane Maria (first time it has been closed since it opened in 1952).

We organized a service project partnership between The Mission Continues, No Barriers Warriors, and 20 additional volunteers from the US Navy (who were celebrating Navy Week in Puerto Rico) to clear out hurricane damage, paint cabins and clear educational trails.

As a result of the impact 50 volunteers made, the Girl Scouts have decided to re-open the camp this summer!

Finding A Veteran Community After “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”

By Tracey Cooper-Harris, volunteer

When I signed up for the Army during my senior year in high school, I wanted to break free of my protective parents. As an only child, they had high expectations of me, but ultimately wanted me to be independent and self-sufficient. I thought the Army would be a great way to have the freedom as an adult I didn’t have as a teen, plus a responsible means of traveling the world without my parents worrying about funding my educational goals. They already had a lot to deal with, as my mom’s progression with Multiple Sclerosis, a degenerative neurological condition, was starting to worsen.

I was enjoying the freedom, traveling opportunities, and my job as an Animal Care Specialist in my first overseas assignment in Germany. This was the life I was hoping for, and I was planning on making the Army a career.

But I discovered during a night of revelry that kissing one of my best friends was a earth-shattering experience. It wasn’t planned, it was just young adults messing around, but that night changed my life forever.

I realized that I liked women, and that was something incompatible with my military service in 1992. I still had 7 years left on my enlistment, and the military had a zero-tolerance policy on homosexual conduct.

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Queer to Serve

By Bre Bregaudit, Service Leadership Corps member

In the military, being your authentic self can be a challenge, and identifying as queer can be even more challenging. I served during the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” I learned fast that even though the policy changed, the people didn’t change.

I joined the military because I wanted to follow in my cousin’s footsteps in the service. I served in the U.S Army as a medic. I studied, I worked hard, I deployed, and I have provided care to soldiers in Afghanistan and Garrison.

I was verbally harassed by other soldiers from basic training all the way to my first unit. A Sergeant would put an M4 in my face and threatened me to sound off like a man; Sergeants and Officers would make sexual advances at me to the point where I was even sexually assaulted. I received a lot of inappropriate questions about who or what I was intimate with, if I was sleeping with so-and-so, and I was called gay because queer was an identity my peers did not understand.

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Support veterans with #PrideandHonor

We need you to serve alongside us this June in celebration of LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Together, we’ll honor the service of LGBTQ+ veterans and show our support for LGBTQ+ communities across the country.

The number of LGBTQ+ individuals that have served and continue to serve in our military is uncertain, but their commitment to serve here at home is not. Despite many serving under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy and other institutional challenges, their contribution to our country continues in TMC blue.

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Getting Rooted In Service: Earth Day 2019 in a Nutshell

Veterans served in projects across the country for Earth Day. Protecting the environment is important to us as an extension of protecting the people who live in it. Clean air, clean water, and access to green spaces are all essential for current and future generations to thrive.

See what veterans and non-veteran community members accomplished for Earth Day!

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My Military Motherhood

By Jeaniel Image, volunteer

This Mother’s Day I will be in my third trimester with my fourth child, who will be born while I am still serving in the reserves. In the 17 years I have served, the policy for pregnant women has changed dramatically for the better, though the demands of being a mother in the military was probably the greatest challenge I have faced.

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