Another 9/11 is almost upon us, which has attracted the attention of many Americans as well as our allies around the globe. Just after that infamous date, more than 100 veterans of the War on Terror will unite in Los Angeles to begin the next chapter of serving their nation––leading their communities at home. The veterans are the latest recruits for The Mission Continues, which is a national nonprofit organization that helps post-9/11 veterans successfully transition from military life to civilian careers through a somewhat unusual path: community service and volunteerism. From September 12 through September 14, the veterans will participate in three days of leadership training, volunteerism, and a special oath ceremony to jump start a six-month journey of volunteering with local nonprofits in their hometowns.
Highlights of the event include: a day of classroom training where The Mission Continues alums will share their stories of struggle and success in post-military life; an all-hands community service project at Good Shepherd Shelter in which veteran volunteers will landscape the grounds, repair sheds and gates, transform a busy street corner, and paint classrooms and window panes at a home for women and children in crisis; a public oath ceremony directly following the service project where post-9/11 veterans will publicly re-pledge their commitment to make a difference––this time at home.
Following the service project, recruits will seal their commitment by pledging an oath of service to their community in front of their fellow volunteers at Good Shepherd, before returning home to begin six-month service fellowships, volunteering with nonprofit organizations in their hometowns. “September 11 is more than symbolic for many veterans. It is a day that ignited a spirit of service for those who put on the uniform and chose to serve our country,” explained Spencer Kympton, U.S. Army veteran and president of The Mission Continues. He added, “We believe this spirit lives on today. At The Mission Continues, we're helping veterans channel their energy to make a difference in their neighbors' lives and leave a legacy of continued service for future generations to follow.”
Continuing to Serve at Home On Saturday, Sept. 13, the new veteran recruits and Los Angeles-area alumni of the program will partner with Los Angeles-area community volunteers to transform the campus at Good Shepherd Shelter. Joining The Mission Continues veteran volunteers are key partners, including Bad Robot, Boeing, Disney, and Target. “The Mission Continues’ veterans are living examples for our residents that leadership and determination offer a path to empowerment and success,” noted Sr. Anne Kelley, Executive Director of Good Shepherd Shelter. “We are so grateful for the support of The Mission Continues and know these upgrades will help us better care for each family and take one step closer to ending the generational cycle of domestic violence.”
In fall 2013, The Mission Continues launched a LA-based veterans’ service platoon now led by Kristina Catuiza. Ms. Catuiza, who served nine years in the Navy, served her fellowship at Santa Monica College, helping other female student veterans adjust to life on campus. She is passionate about serving other veterans and plans to pursue a career at the Veterans Administration after college graduation. As the newly appointed LA platoon leader, she leads more than 75 local veterans supporting a multi-year mission in collaboration with Disney to empower disadvantaged youth to be responsible, resilient citizens with a passion for service. Ms. Catuiza said, “After leaving the military, I was unsure of what was next for me. My fellowship helped me identify what I’m passionate about and channel that passion into a possible career. I want other veterans to realize that they are not alone in this journey. Through the platoon, we’re bringing veterans together so that they can find camaraderie once again, as well as a sense of purpose.”
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