No one’s story should be suppressed or ignored, but all too often, that is the case for women veterans. We strive to empower women veterans to be leaders in and through our programs. We want to highlight one such story in anticipation of our 4th annual Women Veterans Leadership Summit and in celebration of International Women’s Day.
Aryanna Berringer is a Women Veterans Leadership Summit attendee and an active volunteer with our Pittsburgh service platoons. Here is her story as told by her. If you’re as inspired by these stories as we are, consider donating. Your support empowers women veterans to realize their full potential as civic leaders.
Martin Luther King Jr.’s eight core values from the Civil Rights Movement will be the center of veteran-led service projects happening in cities around the country
NEW YORK, Jan. 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Leading up to and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, The Mission Continues, a national veterans’ nonprofit, will commemorate Dr. King’s legacy through large-scale community service. Veteran volunteers with the organization will apply their skills in over 45 cities nationwide to transform communities and create lasting impact. A selection of these cities and their projects have been identified as representations of the core values Dr. King preached during the Civil Rights Movement: Nonviolence, Hope, Equality, Faith, Education, Love, Leadership and Selflessness.
“Dr. King unified and mobilized millions of people as forces for change in their community. He and his values are an inspiration to all of us,” said Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “It’s only fitting that we honor him and carry on those values by bringing service-minded people together in veteran-led community action, all across the country.”
When my son was younger, I loved reading him a children’s book about a community in Chad, Africa. Following the rainy season each year, neighbors came together to rebuild the local school, which they’d made the previous year from mud bricks. The bricks eroded in the rains, and people of all ages joined hands to erect a new building. It is a beautiful tale of shared experience and purpose.
I’m drawn to stories of collective action: modern “barn raisings” where communities come together to build playgrounds in urban centers, revitalize and restore our schools, and repair homes for those in need. It’s both the outcome(structures that are needed by the community) and the process (endeavors that bring people together in sweat, challenge, and joy) that make these stories inspiring.
As a country, we seem to have lost our way in this regard. As we succumb to the many forces that divide us, we lose out on both the structures, and the bonds, that result from shared experience and shared purpose.
The good news is that there are ways to restore this human characteristic and long-standing aspect of our country’s history. With your help, The Mission Continues is building a veteran-led movement to recapture unity. By locking arms in support of shared missions, veterans and their neighbors are addressing important needs in under-resourced communities across the country.
On Saturday, October 27, 2018, a horrible act of violence occurred in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, PA. The city and our country continues to process these acts and grieve for our brothers and sisters who have been directly impacted by these horrendous acts.
Through the darkness, there has been some brightness; one of those rays being that all 11 people who were killed, have their funeral costs covered by over $200K raised by the local Islamic community.
As the city continues grieve, our City Impact Manager Stephanie Grimes is working with the local service platoons and partners to see where our efforts can best support the needs and desires of the Jewish community, residents of Squirrel Hill, and all others affected by this act of hatred.
For Pittsburgh locals, here’s what you can do this weekend
On November 3, 8:30 am-12:00 pm we will meet to organize at the Smallman Street Deli, discuss our mission, and form a plan for how best to support the community at each site. We have been asked to be on call to help with presence, but all that wish to attend the services are encouraged to do so. Those who do not will remain outside to increase the presence of allies and to demonstrate the strength of the bonds between the veteran and Jewish community.
Signs of support and love are encouraged, but must be free of any political messaging, and in good taste. Our power is our unity, and our mission is to heal and protect. Please tailor all messages to this goal.
We just may have what you didn’t know was missing.
By Sean Tyler, volunteer
One of the biggest challenges in my life was leaving the U.S. Army after over 15 years of service as an enlisted Infantryman and a commissioned Medical Service Corps Officer.
I medically retired in December of 2013, and for lack of better words, I was not prepared. In 2012 I was diagnosed with PTSD and had significant damage to both my hip and back; I received a total hip replacement that same year. My last two years of active duty were full of surgeries, medical, and mental health appointments. The combination of these ailments led to my medical retirement.
To me at the time, being non-deployable was a death sentence for my career, and a PTSD diagnosis was a death sentence for my soul. I felt as if I was broken beyond repair and obliged to fulfill my new moniker as a “dysfunctional veteran.” I dove head first into self-loathing and alcohol abuse to numb my emptiness and despair.
Ever since I joined Boy Scouts, my ultimate goal was to reach the rank of Eagle Scout — the highest rank in Boy Scouts. One of the many requirements for this rank is to complete a service project.
This year, at the age of 16, I was able to become an Eagle Scout by leading a service project in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Hazelwood in collaboration with The Mission Continues’ Hazelwood Service Platoon.
Although my father has passed, he has always been a great influence on my life and his words of wisdom, ignored in my youth, still resonate with me today. Now at the tender young age of 40, I am finally going to be a father myself and want to pass along my experiences in service to my soon-to-be-born daughter. Continue reading “Teaching My Daughter the Importance of Service”
“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.