I Was Just Doing My Job

September 7, 2014

Marines use heavy equipmentPhoto CreditLance Cpl. William Fischer

The Washington Post collected quotes from service men and women in the wars and shared them with readers online. Originally published in May of 2006, the quotes shed light on how much, and in some cases how little, has changed over the previous decade.

 “I felt a little undeserving because of all the thanks I received. I felt like I was just doing my job.
– 
Marine Capt. Robert Washington, March-June 2003

 

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My Fellowship: Connor Mallon

September 6, 2014
Connor Mallon

Connor Mallon

My name is Connor Mallon. I’m a photographer, an Iraq War veteran, and a Mission Continues Alpha Class Alumnus.  Sometime just before college graduation I realized that I was basically standing in the same place I was in fresh out of the Army four years earlier. I met people on a daily basis who drudged though dead-end jobs with nothing to show for it but a paycheck and a few measly days of vacation every year. I wasn’t positive that I was making the right choice when it came to career fields and I didn’t want to get stuck doing something meaningless and unfulfilling for the rest of my life, so I started thinking about what I DID want to do.

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I’ll Come Home Different

September 2, 2014
David Rogers

David Rogers is the Fellowship Program Director at The Mission Continues.  He is currently deployed to Afghanistan with the United States Air Force Reserve in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“Are you worried about coming home different?”  It was just two days before I was deploying to Afghanistan and my best friend Angela was supportive, but concerned.  I was grateful for her question and I thanked her for her honesty.  Many of my loved ones had no doubt wondered the same question, though none had asked.  The question might have made me uncomfortable, but it didn’t because I had thought the same question to myself many times.

“I will come back from this deployment different,” I told her.  I have seen the challenges firsthand that veterans of my era have faced both through their military service and upon their return.  We have made many sacrifices in our service.  We have put our mission first.  Our families, our safety, and our personal needs came second.  As a generation, learning to take care of ourselves after the military and learning how to navigate the civilian world hasn’t been easy.

I explained this to Angela that night, and shared the stories of the men and women that I know from service in the Air Force Reserve and my civilian role at The Mission Continues.  After more than a decade at war, these veterans have faced immense obstacles.  But the men and women who have served by my side have also demonstrated an incredible resilience.  They are a generation of veterans who view their military service as an asset.

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David welcoming Mission Continues Fellows at Alpha Class Orientation in January 2014

These veterans have transitioned from leading infantry squads to mentoring elementary school children.  They have transitioned from commanding aircraft carriers to building houses for the homeless.  They have transitioned from repairing fighter jets to running community gardens.  These veterans are harnessing their innate spirit of service by volunteering across the country through The Mission Continues’ Fellowships and Service Platoons.

In just a few short years, veterans serving with The Mission Continues have contributed more than a half million hours of volunteer service to more than 600 nonprofit organizations.  Their volunteer service has defined a generation of veterans that are better equipped to tackle pressing issues at home.  Eighty five prevent of them report that they have become leaders in their communities1 and 91% believe now that they have the ability to make a difference in their communities1.  Additionally, almost half of the veterans reported that their health status improved 1 and they have enriched and strengthened their family life2 through their volunteer service.

Veterans that have served our country in the years since 9/11 have continued to overcome obstacles in their transition out of the military, yet are committed to continuing their service and continuing to have a positive impact on the lives of those around them.

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I will return home from Afghanistan later this year, transitioning from building bombs for the Air Force to once again leading these veterans in service at The Mission Continues.  When I return, my transition may not be easy.  But I will have a new mission, and I will have many more veterans beside me.  Together we will channel our passion, commitment and leadership so that our shared legacy as a generation of veterans will be one of action and service.

I will come back from this deployment different.  I will come back stronger.  And my mission will continue.

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1 The Mission Continues: Reexamining engagement of post-9/11 veterans in civic service

2 Reexamining impacts of The Mission Continues Fellowship Program on post-9/11 veterans, their families, and their communities

August News Roundup

August 31, 2014

1st Platoon NYC in Harlem

Veterans from the New York Service Platoon in East Harlem volunteering with Play Streets on Thursday, August 28, 2014

From The Mission Continues

Navy veteran Jerrod Howe helped other veterans tell their stories while crafting his own / Newman’s Own Foundation

Navy veteran moves inland to help Joshua Tree National Park / The Desert Trail

From the Veteran Community

Interviewing as a Wounded Warrior / Military Officers Association of America

First Rule Of This Fight Club: You Must Be A Veteran / NPR

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Advice for Veterans: Get into Equilibrium

August 30, 2014
Seth Gordon

Seth Gordon is the Director of the Veteran and Military Center at Wright State University and has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership with a focus on Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University.

 “It felt like a slap in the face,” a Marine said to me during a college consultation with his wife. He was considering returning to school and had been an NCO in the Marine Corps. He had a decent job, but felt his prospects were limited because he did not have a college degree.

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One Fellow’s Feedback

August 29, 2014

 

I have gotten a sense of worth back. Going to school is much easier. I have the drive to go to class everyday and get my education because I know it will benefit not just me but a lot of people in my community. As a professional I hope to start my own organization and help others. And because of The Mission Continues, I really believe in myself and I know I can do it.

Service Member to Student: Breaking Down the Barriers

August 29, 2014
Chris Merkle

Chris Merkle is United States Marine Corps veteran and Mission Continues Fellow. In this post, he reflects on how engaging in campus activities enriched his life as a student veteran.

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I enlisted in the military when I was 17-years old. I served for 14 years in the Marine Corps, two years in the Army Reserve and spent an additional five to six years overseas security contracting. To say I was “still institutionalized” when I got out of the military is an understatement.

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