November 15, 2017
In honor of Veterans Day, Miami’s 1st Service Platoon returned to Everglades National Park, which sustained damage during Hurricane Irma. While there was much to be done, they focused their efforts where it was needed most.
The park’s 3-in-1 Trail had been rendered unusable due to downed trees and other debris. This half-mile trail is most popular among school groups because it takes them through three different habitats that can be found in the park.
Mission Continues volunteers spent the afternoon clearing the trail of branches and brush — completing in under one day what it would have taken the park much longer to do with fewer people.
This project was apt because the operational focus of the Miami’s 1st Service Platoon is environmental stewardship. To that end, the platoon partners with the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) to help alleviate some of the needs in Everglades National Park and Dry Tortugas National Park.
Jacqueline Crucet of NPCA explains the significance of the weekend’s project and the partnership overall. “Veterans stepped up when we needed them to defend our country, and national parks are there for them when they return, to help provide them solace.”
For this reason, she continues, “connecting our heroes to our shared heritage is really meaningful for our NPCA and National Park Service staff.”
Jacqueline explains how parks benefit from this relationship. “Parks need maintenance and protection, and our work with The Mission Continues has helped address the nearly 12 billion dollars of deferred maintenance backlog within the National Park Service. When veterans are enjoying their parks in service they form their own individual connection to that public space. Preserving our nation’s parks for tomorrow ties us all together. Together, we make sure parks are in pristine condition for the next generation.”
“I like to call it national parks and service.”
Another important aspect of protecting the parks is fostering new champions for them. Matthew Tanner, City Impact Manager for The Mission Continues told us, “We have seen three Miami platoon members fly to Washington, D.C. over the past two years to speak with Congress through their increased involvement with the NPCA. This year, one of our members met with Secretary Zinke, himself a veteran, to discuss the importance of protecting and preserving our national parks for veterans and for all of us.”
Jacqueline praises The Mission Continues volunteers for speaking, as veterans and private citizens, about the value of national parks. “Through lending your voice to NPS issues, you’ve certainly helped raise awareness among the veteran community, civilian community, and elected officials of the importance of the national parks to all.”
In January The Mission Continues will be hosting our Alpha Orientation for new fellows and platoon leaders in Miami, where we will gather for a large service project, so stay tuned!
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and Twitter.