Bringing Boombox Home

March 16, 2016
By Michael Liguori

Mike Ligouri paints a pavilion at Fort Wadsworth for our 9/11 Day of Service in New York.
Michael Liguori paints a pavilion at Fort Wadsworth for our 9/11 Day of Service in New York.

When I was in the Marines, we were taught to have attention to detail. It was a matter of life and death measured in seconds and the more attention we paid to the small things, the more we had a chance to survive. The emphasis on attention to detail also taught me to appreciate the little things like the biweekly paycheck, the honor of serving my country and of course, my prize possession, a Sony Boombox (yes you read that correctly…a Sony Boombox.)

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Missing the Mark With Our Veterans

November 11, 2015
by Mary Beth Bruggeman

Vol_Ser_Mis_Body (1)Volunteers of The Mission Continues Los Angeles 1st Platoon build a new outdoor learning area at Stevenson Middle School.

(Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on The Huffington Post)

I waited in line last month to board a flight and heard the gate attendant announce that veterans and active duty military were invited to board the plane ahead of the other passengers. I watched as several veterans made their way to the front to take advantage of this kindness. I held my place in line, waiting for my turn to board, and I was struck by how misdirected these kindnesses have become. I raised my right hand and vowed to serve the citizens of this country, not to be served by them.

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The Veteran Bootprint

November 11, 2015
By Spencer Kympton

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World War I ended with the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, but the fighting had actually stopped months earlier. According to an armistice signed by Germany and the Allies, hostilities ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918.

The following year, President Wilson declared November 11th as Armistice Day, forever marking its significance in American and world history. It was a day to honor the sacrifice and service of the men and women who fought in the ‘war to end all wars’. But, as importantly, it was a day to participate in exercises that promoted peace and mutual understanding – in hopes that conflicts so catastrophic would never happen again.

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A Great Place to Serve, A Great Place to Work

For the second straight year, Outside Magazine has recognized The Mission Continues in its annual Best Places to Work survey, which measures job satisfaction among innovative practices and a healthy work-life balance.

To Marvin Cadet, an Iraq veteran and member of the 2013 Bravo Fellowship class, the ranking is as accurate as it is unsurprising. He joined the team after his Fellowship ended to boost grassroots fundraising.

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The Veterans Landscape in the City of Dreams

September 12, 2014
Regan Turner

On the morning of September 11, 2001, 221 passengers and crew boarded airplanes bound for Los Angeles, unaware that in just a few short hours the world would change forever, and that they would never reach their final destination. At the time, I was a senior in the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M University, uncertain of the significance of the World Trade Center Towers or even where they stood.

Four years later, by then having gazed solemnly at the gaping hole at Ground Zero in New York City, I was tasked to lead Marines across the mountains and deserts of Afghanistan in pursuit of the terrorists behind the attacks of 9/11. A year after that, I sat and sipped chai tea with villagers in Iraq who tried to convince me that the United States had planned the 9/11 attacks as a motive to invade their country, while I silently prayed that my Marines and I would evade the next roadside bomb and make it home safely to ours. Luckily, we did.

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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.


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