August 1, 2017
For ten years, veterans clad in Mission Continues blue have reconnected to their communities through continued service. Together, we’ve built relationships with local communities and nonprofits in cities across the country, connecting veterans with sustainable service opportunities. All of this is driven by our strong conviction that veterans are assets who, at the core of their identity, want to make a positive impact on their country. This month, in honor of our ten-year anniversary, we wanted to take a look back at the last ten years.
We’ve come a long way since our founding. In the first year, three veterans participated in our programs, while today, thousands of veterans across generations have joined with us to serve in their communities as part of a successful transition home. Our mission, logo, staff, and programs have all evolved in our effort to best support our family of veterans and the communities in which they serve.
The Mission Continues has awarded more than 2,000 fellowships and launched more than 70 service platoons in over 20 major metro areas nationwide. Together, these veteran volunteers have contributed more than 1,000,000 hours of service to their communities to address entrenched challenges including improving community health and wellbeing, increasing access to gardens and greenspaces, and enhancing educational facilities for learning and recreation.
When we were founded, we realized we had an opportunity to shape the way our country viewed its post-9/11 veterans. We saw a new image of a young veteran who was dedicated to serving their country both abroad and in their own neighborhoods. We envisioned a veteran-focused approach, where our country saw that its veterans were an asset to their country even after they took off their military uniform. Because when the military is comprised of an all-volunteer force, the men and women coming home don’t want to put their passion on the shelf.
Although our Fellowship program was originally conceived as a program for wounded and disabled veterans, it became clear that many veterans, regardless of disability, had a difficult time finding purpose at home without the network, mission and structure found in a military unit. As a result, we made the shift in 2011 to offer the benefits of the fellowship program to all post-9/11 veterans.
We saw firsthand how the program helped the lives of our Fellows, but we still needed quantitative proof so that others could see our impact. We began measuring the efficacy of our program in partnership with Washington University in St Louis, who conducted a study involving nearly 500 veterans in 42 states over two years, and assessed the perceived personal, social, and family impacts of participating in the Fellowship program.
The results of this study showed that the program helped fellows become leaders within their communities (85%), and 76% reported that they set an example for their families and children by participating in the program. Overall, 95% of our participants stated that The Mission Continues Fellowship Program allowed them to make a contribution to their communities.
Now that we had seen the core concept worked, it was time to put more meat on the bones. The fellowship program was further advanced in 2012 by organizing quarterly “orientations” and gathering cohorts of veterans together to kick off their six months of service as a group.
In another evolution of the fellowship program, we introduced our first “curriculum” for the Alpha 2013 class. Consisting of monthly reading and learning plans, it serves as a guide to assist Fellows in shaping their goals and outcomes for the program.
Confident that continued service works for veterans seeking a better reintegration, we knew that more veterans would benefit from reconnecting to a sense of purpose while improving their neighborhoods. Our next big program was thus launched in the fall of 2013 with five “pilot” Service Platoons located in Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, San Diego and Washington, DC. Today we are operating service platoons in 36 metro areas—last year, 4500+ veterans completed over 600 projects—and we’re working on expanding to even more cities.
Stay tuned for the next part of our journey—from 2014 to now, including our first two Mass Deployments, the growth of Her Mission and the Women Veterans Leadership Summit, and more!
Want to celebrate this decade of service with us? Come join us in the St. Louis area for our “Summer Service Slam” in partnership with FOX Sports Midwest on August 19, 2017. The Summer Service Slam is an annual tradition, and it’s going to be especially meaningful to us this year. Come serve and celebrate with us!
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.