This Is for the Immigrant Veterans Who Inspired My Fellowship

August 29th, 2017
By Jin Kong, Fellow


My name is Jin Kong. I am a husband and a father, an immigrant and a veteran. I am not a rarity, but one of many immigrant stories from my military days.

One friend told me he walked across the Mexico/US border with his mother at a very young age. He was deported then and later came back to the US legally. Another medic was a Southeast-Asian Buddhist who converted to Mormonism and married before our deployment. One of our infantry brothers immigrated from Argentina. He took an injury to one eye in the war while serving as a sniper. He later became a photographer and traversed Iraq while the war was still on, armed only with a camera and a local guide. Continue reading “This Is for the Immigrant Veterans Who Inspired My Fellowship”

Fellowship Program To Welcome Reserve and National Guard

August 7, 2017

The Mission Continues Fellowship Program is launching a new pilot initiative this January, welcoming serving members of the Reserves and National Guard to the ranks. Eligibility for the fellowship program has previously been limited to retired and separated veterans of the United States Military. Recognizing the potential for the fellowship to support and empower current service members in the Guard and Reserve, the fellowship program will accept applications from qualified applicants for our Alpha 2018 Fellowship Class. The application for this class is now open.
 

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Charlie Class 2017: Kicking Off A New Path of Service with Sports for Youth

July 14, 2017

Today we welcome 96 fellows and 14 platoon leaders of Charlie Class 2017 to a weekend of Orientation in Boston. We will be joining forces with the Boston 1st Platoon to help them kick off a new mission in the Dorchester area. These fellows and platoon leaders are veterans who have committed to serving their country again, this time in a different way. They have decided to use their leadership, discipline, and teamwork skills to combat homelessness, climate change, childhood poverty, and many other challenges we face here on the home front.

Our fellows will be embedding with local nonprofits in their cities for six months, while our platoon leaders will be leading groups of veterans to complete service projects to support places like nonprofits in underserved neighborhoods, national parks, urban gardens, and public schools.

The Boston 1st Service Platoon, a group of dedicated volunteers, have identified Dorchester as the best place to focus their efforts. Dorchester is Boston’s largest and most ethnically diverse neighborhood, as it is home to large Irish, Vietnamese and Cape Verdean communities. Dorchester has the second highest rate of child poverty in the Boston area, coming in at 39.2 percent, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. In addition, the Boston Police report that a few Dorchester neighborhoods are gang “hotspots.”

City Impact Manager Stephanie Grimes said that the platoon’s goal in Boston is “to expand athletic, nutrition and academic programming available to community members.” With this in mind, she found a partner in a nonprofit called All Dorchester Sports & Leadership. Continue reading “Charlie Class 2017: Kicking Off A New Path of Service with Sports for Youth”

I Became a Gladiator for the Environment

June 5, 2017
By David Riera, Fellow

Capitol Hill is like a Roman Colosseum, complete with all the ornate statues, marble surfaces and fountains. Both attract the affluent and impoverished alike, the streets filled with merchants, guards, and citizens waiting to attend the “games.” Who would have ever thought I would find myself participating in these great political games?

I traveled to Washington D.C. with the National Parks Conservation Association to ask Congress to protect our public lands. I visited their home office, a two floor hub filled with everything an environmentalist and champion for the parks could ever hope to have in order to prepare for the lengthy battles ahead. Continue reading “I Became a Gladiator for the Environment”

Change Happens from the Ground Up, and that Starts with Me

May 23, 2017
By Mason Leist, Fellow

I was in the fifth grade when I saw the terrorist attacks of 9/11 unfold on television. Though I was only a child, the day left me with a strong desire to defend my country. The call to serve rang even louder as I grew up listening to my granddad and uncle telling stories of their time at war. I answered the call when I joined the United States Army at the age of 20, and deployed to Afghanistan soon thereafter. It was time for me to live my own war stories.

As an infantryman I trained the Afghanistan Uniformed Police to make the roads safe for civilian travel. I was proud of the work I did to support my team. Though I was grateful that we all got home in one piece, the person who came home in 2015 stood in stark contrast to the one who enlisted in 2012. The smallest things incensed me. So I drank and told myself things would be better in a couple months. A couple months came and went. I was still drunk and still mad.

Seeing the effect this had on those I loved made me come to terms with post-traumatic stress and seek help through the PTSD Foundation of America. After I navigated my own challenges, I knew it was time for me to forge my own path forward. Luckily a friend introduced me to The Mission Continues, and just like that, it was time to find my sense of purpose again.

That’s what made The Mission Continues stand out to me: they inspired me by proving I could change the world, starting in my own community.

My Mission Continues Fellowship at the PTSD Foundation of America empowers me to do exactly that in my city of San Antonio. I bring the community together by mentoring veterans and their families. After my six-month fellowship concludes, I hope to do even more to help veterans like myself navigate the challenges of PTSD.

Change happens from the ground up — and that starts with me. It’s why I enlisted in the military, and it’s why I continue to serve today. It’s also why I ask you to support veterans like me who are impacting their communities through fellowships and service platoons all over the country.

I was inspired to serve by the war stories of my uncle and grandfather. And now, with your support, my generation of veterans has its own stories to tell: stories of how we continued serving our country even after we came home.

 

 

Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.

Learning to Overcome Adversity as a Single Mom

May 14, 2017
By Stacy Munn, Fellow Alum

When I first became aware of The Mission Continues, I saw it as my chance to engage my eldest child in sustained service beyond the small acts of kindness people do on the holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Including him in the mission made me more than elated–this was an opportunity for my son to engage and observe individuals that share our family values. Seeing my son interact with active duty members and veterans at various project sites filled me with pride.

But then I realized I wanted more. Learning about The Mission Continues’ Fellowship Program absolutely changed my world, to say the least. It was a daunting, humbling and amazing six-month experience. Would I take this journey over again? Yes, in a Navy minute. Continue reading “Learning to Overcome Adversity as a Single Mom”

Why Are We Losing Our Veterans to Deportation?

May 12, 2017
By Carlos Luna, Fellow

Carlos Luna at Alpha 2017 Orientation

You wouldn’t think veterans, their families, and Gold Star families are being deported — but they are.

What spurred me to speak to Chicago’s City Council about this is a story that’s been in the news recently about Miguel Perez Jr.. Miguel is a United States Army veteran who, after serving time for drug-related charges, is facing the possibility of being deported to Mexico, a country he hasn’t seen since he was eight. He deployed to Afghanistan twice, and has relative experience with combat and weapons. He and his family fear he will be forced to serve cartels and gangs if sent to Mexico because of his expertise.

As a veteran and President of League of United Latin American Citizens – Green Card Veterans chapter, I am driven to talk about this issue. Although we are often led to believe that this is an issue that only affects the Mexican community, the fact is that this fight for justice and equality is one that transcends ethnic differences.

When veterans return home, they are met with unemployment, reintegration challenges, lack of support, and lack of purpose. Because of this, veterans are routinely preyed upon by financial institutions, so-called educational institutions, and, in cases like Miguel, by organized crime for his knowledge of weapons and combat. Continue reading “Why Are We Losing Our Veterans to Deportation?”

Bravo Class of 2017: Changing Our Life Story by Helping Youth Do the Same

April 5, 2017

This weekend The Mission Continues is rising to new heights by coming to the mountainous city of Denver, Colorado, for our Bravo Class of 2017 Orientation. Orientation marks the beginning of a new chapter for our new fellows and platoon leaders, as they will embark on a new mission to serve again. In doing so, they will be changing the veteran narrative, where they step up to the plate to serve their country even after they’ve come home. We are pleased to welcome this new class of platoon leaders and fellows into our Mission Continues family. Their first act of service will take place at the Tennyson Center for Children, where they will kick off our new relationship with a day of meaningful impact. Continue reading “Bravo Class of 2017: Changing Our Life Story by Helping Youth Do the Same”

From Clashing Cultures in Baghdad to Building Bridges in Honolulu

March 29th, 2017
By Brayden Yoder, Fellow

Brayden with filmmaker Tobias Reeujwijk, the Princess of Bhutan, and HIFF Executive Director Robert Lambeth after the screening of Reeujwijk’s documentary film 1,000 Hands of the Guru: Saving Bhutan’s Sacred Arts

It was the desert that answered, years after I first heard the question: “Ohhh, Soldier,” we used to sing, “ where have you been?”  Those that have marched to this cadence can recite the answers of previous generations, who had been to Korea and Normandy, San Juan Hill, Lexington, and all around the globe, “fighting for liberty; dying for freedom.”  After 9/11, my brothers and sisters in uniform and I could contribute a new verse: I’ve been to Baghdad.

I felt proud that years from now, when my grandson asks me what I did in the great war on terror, I wouldn’t have to tell him, (to paraphrase General Patton),  “I sat on the couch playing video games next to Mama.”  Yet like many of us, I left Iraq and the military strangely unfulfilled by the war I always thought I wanted. Every question the desert answered about my abilities as a leader opened up others for me as a human being. Continue reading “From Clashing Cultures in Baghdad to Building Bridges in Honolulu”