April 22, 2015
Planting trees and protecting the wildlife has always been a part of who I am. Since a very young age I have been active in many community-based habitat restoration efforts. This lifestyle helped me to see the earth as a living organism that we all must take a responsibility to protect.
After my military service, I wanted to continue my path as an environmentalist.
Thanks to The Mission Continues Fellowship Program, I was able to complete a six-month fellowship at a local environmental non-profit organization in San Diego, California.
I served at an organization that shared my same enthusiasm for implementing sustained regeneration and improving the physical environment by developing community-based partnerships – all of which empowered people, businesses and organizations to promote environmental, economic and social well-being.
While completing my fellowship in 2014, I sat down with three other veterans from The Mission Continues to establish a new mission for the San Diego 1st Platoon. And my mission now as the platoon leader is to encourage veterans in my community to harness military experience to tackle fundamental environmental challenges.
Southern California is well known for its amazing weather, beautiful cliffs, sunsets and beaches, but sadly we also face terrible environmental struggles, particularly drought. So we decided to shift our platoon’s mission focus to urban greening and sustainable communities.
Throughout the past year, I experienced first-hand the joy in our platoon members during our service events. As one member said: “Any day I can plant a tree is a great day. Any day I can do it with veterans is an awesome day.”
Since the summer of 2014, the San Diego Service Platoon has planted more than 100 trees, each with a capacity to generate 260 pounds of oxygen per year. That is 26 thousand total pounds of oxygen that will be generated every year for the remaining lifetime of those trees. That oxygen will circulate the earth. Urban greening is our local mission but it is definitely a global cause.
We carry a very significant mission in our platoon. We work hard in our community to restore existing parks, canyons, and also to encourage urban agriculture. It is vital we understand the principals of cohabitation to create symbiotic relationships with our surroundings.
I’m proud to lead a service platoon with a great purpose. We all have the responsibility to care for our planet, to be conscientious for the water we consume day-to-day. We are a new generation of veterans, capable of not only doing great things for our country, but also for our communities.
For the San Diego 1st Service Platoon, that means doing global good by acting locally. Just like our military service, we know our actions today will echo for generations.
Roxana Mejia is a Fellow Alum and the platoon leader for San Diego 1st Service Platoon. Interested in joining a service platoon in your city? Sign up now.