San Diego Veterans Are Making an Impact with Future Achievers

By Tristan Williamson

If you were to mention the name Logan Heights to the residents of San Diego whose experience with the historic neighborhood amounts to driving past it on Interstate 5, it’s likely that their reaction would be largely informed by the decades-old stigma brought on by the Tijuana Cartel-allied gang bearing this community’s name – the Logan Heights Gang. You would hear about the 1-square mile community’s reputation for violent crime, how its poverty level sits three times higher than that of San Diego, or its quadrupled population density compared to the rest of the city.

You probably wouldn’t hear about the culture of historic resilience in Logan – how what was once the largest Chicano population on the west coast became displaced by new infrastructure as San Diego grew, sowing the seeds of grassroots activism and neighborhood advocacy.

There’s a certain grit about Logan Heights derived from that legacy of collective efficacy that has made neighbors out of co-residents. Shared trust and solidarity bring neighbors out of their homes to keep an eye on the side streets and alleyways or to help a neighbor in need.

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My Transition Was Easy, Finding Meaning After Service Was Not

By Heather Byington

On paper, I’m one of those vets who lack job stability and goal attainment after serving. Nearly four years after retirement, I’m back to square one. I wear many part-time hats: platoon leader, personal trainer, student, and Lyft driver.  It’s not the traditional definition of success, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Mission Continues Jobs and How To Get Them

By Caitlin Zbikowski, staff

My name is Caitlin Zbikowski and I’m the Manager of Talent Acquisition & Onboarding at The Mission Continues. Eight years ago, I began my search for employment. I was a Senior at the University of Missouri – Columbia (“Mizzou”). I aspired to work for a nonprofit organization in St. Louis (my hometown) after I graduated.

I had never heard of The Mission Continues before. They never came up in my searches. I had never thought about working with veterans, which was very strange because my brother was a post 9/11 veteran. After I started reading about their mission, vision and the programs they had to offer veterans like my brother, I WAS HOOKED! I really put my heart and soul into my application and interviews, so when I was extended an offer, I cried a little.

No more about me though. Let’s shift gears – talk about you – and what you can expect as an applicant.

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Including Women in our Stories of Service

By Aryanna Berringer, volunteer

No one’s story should be suppressed or ignored, but all too often, that is the case for women veterans. We strive to empower women veterans to be leaders in and through our programs. We want to highlight one such story in anticipation of our 4th annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit and in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Aryanna Berringer is a Women Veterans Leadership Summit attendee and an active volunteer with our Pittsburgh service platoons. Here is her story as told by her. If you’re as inspired by these stories as we are, consider donating. Your support empowers women veterans to realize their full potential as civic leaders.

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Is it Enough? A Piece of Justice Blues

By David Riera, platoon member

I can remember being in school when Columbus Day was still on the calendar and MLK Day was celebrated as part of Black History Week. Now in 2019, almost 22 years after my last Black history report in U.S. History class, and 12 years since I received my honorable discharge, I reflect back and note that a day or a week was not justice at all.

As we completed our 2019 MLK project at Brownsville Middle School in Miami, I was pleasantly surprised to see so many other civic and community groups come to lend their strength, ‘cause three hours of raking dead leaves is no laughing matter, but at the end we all had smiles on our faces.  

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Celebrating a White Season through Blue Service

By Alwyn Rodriguez, volunteer

Yesterday

As the holidays came to a close, I took some time to reflect. I am truly grateful for my ability to continue to serve.

When I was discharged from the military, I went through numerous financial, professional, academic and even spiritual setbacks. The few holidays I can remember without having my family, not being in a comfortable bed, or eating my mom’s home cooking, was not ideal.

My time in the U.S. Navy seems both far and close at the same time. Yet I felt being able help and mingle with different people, especially when the holidays roll around, gave me a sense of purpose. But the holidays when I was with my brethren was spent in unfamiliar waters and lands, surrounded with mostly familiar faces was uplifting.

I rediscovered my esprit de corps when I joined The Mission Continues, and continue to flourish, to be more involved, and to improve others’ lives and the environment.

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