NEW YORK (April 24, 2013)
Ten years after the U.S. engaged in the War on Terror
70 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will rally at the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan on May 4 to begin the next chapter of serving their country: leading their communities at home. The veterans are the latest recruits for The Mission Continues, a national nonprofit organization that has helped more than 600 post-9/11 veterans successfully transition to post-military lives by reconnecting to their communities and their sense of purpose through volunteerism.
The 9/11 Memorial event is part of The Mission Continues’ national fellowship orientation in New York City – Bravo Orientation – for veterans from across the country, May 3-5, 2013. Following a weekend of classroom training and a service blitz to rehabilitate The League School in Brooklyn, the veterans will convene at the 9/11 Memorial site to formally pledge an oath of service to the community before returning home to spend the next six months volunteering with local nonprofit organizations.
“The events of Sept. 11, 2001 inspired an entire generation of warriors to volunteer to defend their country,” said Eric Greitens, Navy SEAL and CEO and founder of The Mission Continues. “And veterans’ desire to contribute to a mission doesn’t end at the conclusion of their overseas deployment. By reigniting a desire to improve their communities at home, veterans rediscover their sense of purpose while building new connections that help them launch meaningful post-military careers.”
Continuing to Serve at Home
As part of Bravo Orientation, the new veteran recruits and alumni will fan out across the two-block school campus of The League School to refurbish common areas with fresh paint, plant a community garden and upgrade landscaping. The site improvements will support the school in its mission to provide a safe and nurturing atmosphere for children with developmental and emotional challenges to learn, grow and ultimately, make successful transitions to mainstream education and employment. Community volunteers, including The Daily Show staff, the Steven A. and Alexandra M. Cohen Foundation, Goldman Sachs’ employees and the team from Harry’s Grooming will work side-by-side with the veterans serving the community.
“The veterans of The Mission Continues are heroes to our kids,” said Hannah Actenberg Kinn, CEO of The League Education & Treatment Center. “Like our students, many of these veterans struggle with and overcome emotional and health issues each day. These generous veterans are role models of what our students can achieve with the right network of support.”
Through their service experience in New York and throughout their six month fellowships at home, veterans learn to translate military abilities into civilian skills, gaining valuable work experience and pursuing a defined post-fellowship goal: full-time employment, pursuit of higher education, or a full-time position of community service.
A New York Veterans’ Journey
Among the members of Bravo class is New York City native and retired U.S. Army combat veteran Emmanuel Byron. After returning from Afghanistan, Byron suffered extensive injuries during a training exercise and was honorably discharged in 2006.
As a Mission Continues fellow, Byron will volunteer 20 hours each week at Little Flower Children and Family Services, mentoring children and families in crisis as well as developmentally disabled adults across New York City and Long Island. He’ll also lead an after-school program for children in foster care, which he hopes will help him hone his skills and gain valuable experience that will translate into a career as a social worker.
“I want to be an example for the inner city youth—living proof of someone from the streets of New York City can have a meaningful, positive impact,” Byron said. “Growing up, I was lucky enough to have a mentor to guide me. I want to show these kids that someone cares about their future and believes they can overcome any obstacles in their paths.”
About The Mission Continues
The Mission Continues is a national nonprofit organization that helps Iraq and Afghanistan veterans successfully transition to post-military careers by reconnecting to their communities and their sense of purpose through volunteerism. Founded in 2007 by Navy SEAL and TIME 100 2013 honoree Eric Greitens, The Mission Continues has helped more than 600 post-9/11 veterans focus their talents and energy to tackle challenges facing us right here at home. Through a unique model that provides reciprocal benefit for the veteran and the local community—six-month service fellowships—veterans volunteer to help others and, through their service, build new skills that help them launch their civilian career. For more information, please visit http://www.missioncontinues.org or follow us on Twitter @missioncontinue.