June 18, 2018
Meet the Ambassadors — veterans familiar with the ropes of Mass Deployment — who are going to lead teams of veterans to accomplish all of this impact! Taking on a leadership role involves fostering camaraderie, making sure their team accomplishes their tasks, and embodying what The Mission Continues family is all about.
So let’s see what they’re all about!
If You’re New to Mass Deployment
The Mass Deployment program aims to seed future leaders in communities nationwide and motivate more veterans to embrace new roles of service in their community — while inspiring others to serve. Over 80 veterans from across the country using their skills, leadership and experience working alongside local platoons, project partners and community volunteers to revitalize community spaces.
Our third Mass Deployment, Operation Watts Is Worth It, will be held in Los Angeles June 21-28. Community service projects happen over five days (June 23-27) at five different project sites across Los Angeles’ Watts neighborhood. Service projects will support community beautification, public housing green spaces, youth play areas, and local public school facilities.
This Year’s Ambassadors
AJ is an Air Force veteran from St. Louis. While in the Air Force, he spent several years overseas building relationships as a Recreation Director at his installation. He is a strong leader with a focus on team building, a background in youth counseling, and two years under his belt as the platoon leader for the St. Louis 2nd Service Platoon.
AJ decided he wanted to become an Operation Watts Is Worth It Ambassador after attending Operation Westside Surge and meeting the community’s youth at Mattie Freeland Park, and is excited to bring his mentorship and motivation skills to Watts. He hopes to learn from other veteran leaders and bring these lessons back to his own city.
His favorite thing about Mass Deployment is “connecting with the community and meeting all The Mission Continues team members.”
Hailing from San Antonio, Carlos served 17 years in the Army as an Engineer Construction Supervisor and Interior Electrician, completing five deployments. While in the military, he gained valuable leadership and prioritization skills in a supervisory role and now brings those skills to the San Antonio 2nd Service Platoon as a platoon leader.
For Carlos, the hardest thing about transitioning into the civilian world was “not being able to find the purpose that we were used to have when we were in the military.”
As a crew member at Operation Westside Surge, Carlos realized he could make a difference by engaging community members and encouraging them to take steps to creating changes within their own neighborhoods.
He is looking forward to becoming a better mentor and peer leader at Operation Watts Is Worth It, and “the opportunity to work side-by-side with fellow veterans to make a difference at their community.”
Chetkeila joined the US Navy at 18 years old and served as an electronic technician for six years. After her service ended, she found herself out of a home, jobless, and lost. She said, “Lots of people have moments of homelessness, but my three sons and I made it through all that together. We are a team.”
Through counseling and classes offered at her church, she was able to participate in two mission trips to Honduras, find a home, attain a donated car, and even earn a bachelor’s degree in interior design.
Now with the desire to give back to her community, Chetkeila serves with The Mission Continues as a member of the Houston 2nd Service Platoon to build a better quality of life for those in need. As an ambassador for Operation Watts Is Worth It, Chetkeila hopes to achieve personal growth while using the skills she’s acquired through years of service to lift up others.
Her sons “are the driving force behind my achievements. I am constantly considering how they will see the world through me, checking to make sure that I am the example I want them to see.”
Christina served five years as a radiology specialist in the US Army, and now serves as the platoon leader for the Honolulu 1st Service Platoon. She is also a therapeutic/trauma sensitive certified yoga Instructor, and devotes much of her time to the practice and training others.
While serving as a Crew Team Leader during Operation Westside Surge, Christina truly enjoyed the camaraderie and high impact of the Mass Deployment program. She brings her energy and mindfulness to Operation Watts Is Worth It as an ambassador, and hopes to continue to improve her public speaking skills while leading a team.
She looks forward to “being able to leave it better for them and hoping for that to spread as we leave.”
Eric decided to join the US Army after growing up with a father who also served, where he learned about selfless service and commitment to honor during his nearly four years of service in the Military Police. Upon separating from the Army, he found that community service offered him a new perspective and helped to fulfill his sense of purpose.
Eric said, “My transition from military to civilian life was a very long and difficult road. I lacked a purpose and had a very difficult time figuring out what I wanted to do with my life. I was suffering from PTSD and depression. Since being involved with The Mission Continues, I have found my new purpose in life. In the 3 years I’ve been with The Mission Continues I have grown both professionally and personally.”
Eric currently serves as the platoon leader for the Tacoma 1st Service Platoon, where his platoon’s operations are focused on youth programs and reducing poverty and crime rates in the community. As a platoon leader, he has cultivated strong volunteer and project management skills and is excited to take on the personal challenge of leading a diverse team at Operation Watts Is Worth It.
He explains, “I love serving my community. As civic leaders, we have a great responsibility to create change that benefits our communities. The Mission Continues is a catalyst to help create change.”
Hailing from Pittsburgh, Nathan served for six years in the US Air Force. He is an active volunteer with all three of The Mission Continues’ Pittsburgh Service Platoons, which focus on issues like providing care for refugees and neighborhood revitalization. Nathan said, “The brotherhood of our membership and the act of service allows me to feel connected to my community.”
Nathan also has several years of experience as a construction manager for Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, and is passionate about urban development.
During his time as a crew member at Operation Motown Muster, Nathan valued the stories of impact that his team members shared and was inspired by the strategic service projects which took place to help the Detroit community. As an OWW Ambassador, Nathan is excited to bring new volunteers into The Mission Continues experience.
Penetekoso “Pene” Peau
Pene is a US Navy veteran who served honorably for 10 years and now lives in Baltimore, where he is an active member of the Baltimore Service Platoon. In 2017, he completed a fellowship with The 6th Branch, where here was responsible for project planning and volunteer management.
Participating in Operation Westside Surge taught him much about the power of teamwork, and he was inspired by seeing the community’s youth voluntarily take part in service projects. Penetekoso is ready to hit the ground running at Operation Watts Is Worth It, and is excited to take the lessons he learns back to Baltimore.
He is passionate about volunteering because, “It’s a way to continue volunteering alongside veterans and other people who care.”
Pene believes in veterans’ ability to become civic leaders. He said, “As a veteran, there has been a great deal of training invested in us. The diversity and prior service makes us America’s greatest assets in today’s inner cities and communities. We are all positioned to be great civic leaders, because we care. We care to show up, work as a TEAM and show communities across America that Together Everyone Accomplishes More.”
Will served in the US Army for 36 years (18 of them on Active Duty, then entered the Reserves) before transitioning to law enforcement, and is currently enjoying retirement. He gives his free time to the community, and joined the Columbia 1st Service Platoon in 2015, becoming its platoon leader in 2017. He has experience managing volunteers and is proficient in carpentry and landscaping skills.
While serving at Operation Westside Surge, Will’s greatest achievement working with his team to construct a heavy stone bench, encouraging the group to overcome their fatigue. He is looking forward to continuing to motivate others to complete tough tasks as an Ambassador for Operation Watts Is Worth It.
Yaritza served nearly 12 years in the US Marine Corps and is now a certified personal trainer living in Orlando, Florida. She has a passion for fitness and entrepreneurship, and hopes to soon open her own business. Right now, she’s a full time student.
Yaritza is heavily involved in serving with the Orlando 2nd Service Platoon as a platoon leader, after having served in the platoon’s leadership team.
She is an energetic and outgoing leader who is passionate about working with youth and the sense of community that The Mission Continues provides. As an Ambassador at Operation Watts Is Worth It, Yaritza is ready to work with volunteers from all walks of life in a high-energy environment.
Joining Operation Watts Is Worth It from Washington, DC, Loubna served for nine years in the US Army as a combat linguist. She is currently an active volunteer with the Washington, DC service platoons.
Loubna completed a Mission Continues Fellowship in 2016 with Northern Virginia Family Services, where she helped employed, low-income adults gain access to transportation to get to and from their jobs successfully. Loubna is passionate about technology, and continues to pursue her education in IT.
Loubna felt empowered by her fellow veterans while serving at Operation Westside Surge. Afterwards, she said, “My old ambassador motivated me to come back and serve as an ambassador.”
She aims to provide the same positive experience to newcomers to The Mission Continues, and to inspire them to continue serving their community beyond Mass Deployment. She is pumped to be back in the Mass Deployment environment, “I love the whole atmosphere about it. The people, the work, the connection.”