Advice for Veterans: Get into Equilibrium

August 30, 2014
Seth Gordon

Seth Gordon is the Director of the Veteran and Military Center at Wright State University and has a Ph.D. in Educational Policy and Leadership with a focus on Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University.

 “It felt like a slap in the face,” a Marine said to me during a college consultation with his wife. He was considering returning to school and had been an NCO in the Marine Corps. He had a decent job, but felt his prospects were limited because he did not have a college degree.

Continue reading “Advice for Veterans: Get into Equilibrium”

One Fellow’s Feedback

August 29, 2014


I have gotten a sense of worth back. Going to school is much easier. I have the drive to go to class everyday and get my education because I know it will benefit not just me but a lot of people in my community. As a professional I hope to start my own organization and help others. And because of The Mission Continues, I really believe in myself and I know I can do it.

Service Member to Student: Breaking Down the Barriers

August 29, 2014
Chris Merkle

Chris Merkle is United States Marine Corps veteran and Mission Continues Fellow. In this post, he reflects on how engaging in campus activities enriched his life as a student veteran.


I enlisted in the military when I was 17-years old. I served for 14 years in the Marine Corps, two years in the Army Reserve and spent an additional five to six years overseas security contracting. To say I was “still institutionalized” when I got out of the military is an understatement.

Continue reading “Service Member to Student: Breaking Down the Barriers”

Service Member to Student: How I Learned to Love Life on Campus

August 27, 2014
Kristina Catuiza

Upon enrolling into college, being an active duty service member in the U.S. Navy was the only lifestyle I knew. I found comfort in that way of living. The men and women I served with weren’t just coworkers. They were family. We had built such strong camaraderie. We supported and confided in one another.

After my contract was up, transitioning from military to civilian life wasn’t an easy journey. I tried to fit in at a community college where most of the population was about twenty years old. I couldn’t relate to the people around me and I felt lost in a new city where I had no family or friends to turn to for advice or support.

My first semester at Santa Monica College in Los Angeles was a challenge for me. My grades didn’t suffer, but I had anxiety. My car became the place I spent breaks, had lunch and studied. I became anti-social and secluded myself from anything that was outside my comfort zone.

Kristina SVA

It wasn’t until I found the Veterans Resource Center (VRC) and joined the Student Veterans Association (SVA) on campus that I began to feel more comfortable on campus. Spending time with like-minded individuals allowed me to open up more and venture outside my norms. Being part of the Veterans Association made me feel welcomed and happy, especially because I finally had friends in the Los Angeles area I could relate to.

I enjoyed being around other veterans. I became more involved in the SVA and with the VRC. I began to volunteer for events and felt so proud when the focus was on veterans. I loved hearing other veterans stories and took pleasure in the fact that some would come to me for advice. As I realized my passion for veterans, I started looking into organizations outside of school.

Kristina Catuiza

I joined the American Legion, Team RWB and The Mission Continues. The Mission Continues Los Angeles Service Platoon gave me a chance to work hand in hand with other veterans and give back to the L.A. community. I was able to continue to serve and make a difference even though I was no longer in the military.

This was the drive I was looking for. When it came to selecting a new major, it wasn’t a hard decision. I realized working with other veterans and making them feel comfortable came natural to me. I had a special connection with them. I could relate to them. I decided to pursue a career empowering veterans. I have a better understanding of their struggles and their desires. I wanted to listen and give advice to them on a professional level. I want to help them the way the counselors and social workers at the VA helped me. I truly believe working with veterans is what I was born to do.

Kristina Graduation

I recently earned my associate’s degree from Santa Monica College. My focus now is to earn my bachelor’s degree in psychology from Loyola Marymount University. It feels so right. I love the fact that I can relate stories I’ve heard or people I’ve met to the lessons I learn in class.

Not every student veteran has trouble with the transition into college life; some want nothing to do with the fact they were in the military. I believe they are missing out on some great opportunities that could change their life and impact their career. They might even be missing out on that passion they never knew existed within them.

I never knew I wanted a career working with veterans or giving back to my community. In fact, I first came to college majoring in dental hygiene.  I changed course after volunteering with the veteran community. I found a passion and drive I had never felt before. I truly enjoy what I’m doing – to the point where it doesn’t feel like work at all.

If I hadn’t taken advantage of the resources available to me, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I can say in all honestly, I am enjoying my life as a student veteran.

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A Message to Student Veterans: Never Stop Serving

August 25, 2014
Barry Mattson

Barry Mattson is a veteran of the US Air Force and the US Army, with a combat deployment to Iraq in each service. He is now the Regional Director at The Mission Continues, Houston office, where his passion for fighting poverty is matched with his appreciation for veterans.

In this post, Barry answers the question “How can our nation ensure that veterans don’t need to return to the military in order to find a meaningful sense of purpose?” Continue reading “A Message to Student Veterans: Never Stop Serving”

Fighting Hunger on Chicago’s South Side

With more than 122,000 Chicagoans living in food deserts with little access to healthy food options, The Mission Continues 1st Platoon Chicago is enhancing the health and wellness of low-income neighborhoods. 1st Platoon Chicago recently partnered with community volunteers from Delaney’s Greenhouse to build a community garden at RTW Veteran Center on Chicago’s south side. The fresh produce from the garden will provide convenient, affordable, healthy food options for the local community.

Together, volunteers built 36 raised planting beds, six hoop houses to extend the growing season during Chicago’s cold winter months, three compost bins and a row planting space which will be used during Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder therapy sessions for veterans. The photos below highlights the magnitude of their impact.

Photo credit: Ken Jacobs

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Are you a veteran interested in making an impact in your local community? Join a Service Platoon in your city today.