Integration back into civilian life was a bit of a struggle for me. The biggest struggle was losing my soldier identity and the camaraderie that came with it. On top of that, I became a military spouse, and that in itself has its own set of obstacles. I never really had time to process what that loss looked like because I just went from one role into another and then straight into motherhood.
I was often lonely because I didn’t have anyone that understood what I went through. I struggled mentally and emotionally to find someone that would understand my loss, and when you don’t live close to military installations, it is near impossible to find those people.
It took me a long time to reach out for mental health resources partly because of my busy schedule, but partly due to the stigmatization of reaching out for help — it made you weak.
I wouldn’t cry. Alcohol was my way of coping. I was slowly spiraling mentally and emotionally out of control.
As it would happen, I found The Mission Continues in 2017 at one of the lowest points in my life. My depression and anxiety were in high gear and I was having suicidal ideations.
“I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” -Malala Yousafzai
Across the country, our women veterans have been raising their voices through service on behalf of children, families, and neighborhoods in need. They’ve helped youth to learn about healthy eating, caregivers to open pathways to economic success, and communities to rally around safe and uplifting public spaces.
The #HerMission campaign is our effort to not only recognize those successes and the incredible women who fuel The Mission Continues, but also to unify and catalyze a diverse group of women veterans who will shape our future.
It began last year in Pittsburgh, where the Hazelwood Platoon created the very first #HerMission project, with over 50 women veterans, family members, staff, and residents of the Hazelwood community helped renovate the library at Center of Life community empowerment organization.
This past weekend, nearly 150 women in Boston, Lowell, Pittsburgh, New York City, Newark, and central Florida came together to collectively raise their voices, and their call to act will reverberate for generations.
Today we welcome 96 fellows and 14 platoon leaders of Charlie Class 2017 to a weekend of Orientation in Boston. We will be joining forces with the Boston 1st Platoon to help them kick off a new mission in the Dorchester area. These fellows and platoon leaders are veterans who have committed to serving their country again, this time in a different way. They have decided to use their leadership, discipline, and teamwork skills to combat homelessness, climate change, childhood poverty, and many other challenges we face here on the home front.
Our fellows will be embedding with local nonprofits in their cities for six months, while our platoon leaders will be leading groups of veterans to complete service projects to support places like nonprofits in underserved neighborhoods, national parks, urban gardens, and public schools.
The Boston 1st Service Platoon, a group of dedicated volunteers, have identified Dorchester as the best place to focus their efforts. Dorchester is Boston’s largest and most ethnically diverse neighborhood, as it is home to large Irish, Vietnamese and Cape Verdean communities. Dorchester has the second highest rate of child poverty in the Boston area, coming in at 39.2 percent, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. In addition, the Boston Police report that a few Dorchester neighborhoods are gang “hotspots.”
This weekend The Mission Continues is rising to new heights by coming to the mountainous city of Denver, Colorado, for our Bravo Class of 2017 Orientation. Orientation marks the beginning of a new chapter for our new fellows and platoon leaders, as they will embark on a new mission to serve again. In doing so, they will be changing the veteran narrative, where they step up to the plate to serve their country even after they’ve come home. We are pleased to welcome this new class of platoon leaders and fellows into our Mission Continues family. Their first act of service will take place at the Tennyson Center for Children, where they will kick off our new relationship with a day of meaningful impact.Continue reading “Bravo Class of 2017: Changing Our Life Story by Helping Youth Do the Same”