There are many organizations that exist to help veterans and their families. Today’s organization offers a bit of a spin…instead of offering a helping hand to returning wounded and disabled veterans, The Mission Continues offers them a challenge.
The Mission Continues believes that the leadership skills and life experiences that our wounded and disabled veterans possess are valuable and untapped assets. While it is very important to tell our returning veterans “thank you” for their service, they believe that it is also important to tell them “we still need you”. The Mission Continues, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, was founded in 2007 after CEO Eric Greitens returned home from service in Iraq as a Navy SEAL. Upon his return, Eric visited with wounded Marines at Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. Without exception, each Marine expressed an unwavering desire to continue serving his country, even if he could no longer do so in the military. One young Marine even said this: “I lost my legs – that is all. I did not lose my desire to serve, or my pride in being an American.”
Inspired, Eric used his own combat pay and two friends pitched in their military disability checks to found The Mission Continues. The organization’s mission is to build an America where every returning veteran can serve again as a citizen leader, and where together we honor the fallen by living their values through service. The national headquarters of the organization are in St. Louis, Missouri, but they have volunteers and perform service projects nationwide.
The Mission Continues offers several different programs. The Fellowship Program is their flagship program. Post-9/11 wounded and disabled veterans are challenged to serve once again in their communities. A typical fellowship covers 14 to 28 weeks, during which the Fellow serves at a local charitable organization for 20 to 40 hours per week. Each Fellow receives a monetary stipend to offset living expenses. The fellowship provides veterans with the opportunity to translate their military experience into civilian skill sets. Through service, Fellows identify their strengths and gain confidence while serving their communities.
The organization has awarded 106 Fellowships in 22 states. They recently awarded its 100th Mission Continues Fellowship. The First Lady, Michelle Obama, sent a congratulatory letter commemorating this achievement. In her letter she stated, “By providing wounded and disabled veterans a path back to service, The Mission Continues fellowship program is helping those heroes regain a sense of purpose beyond their time in uniform. Fellows are fulfilling their potential as leaders, and improving countless lives through their work each day across our country.”
The Mission Continues also has a Service Projects program that challenges veterans of all eras and civilians of all ages to serve their country by serving their communities. Service Projects provide a place for veterans to be citizen leaders and for all civilians to live the beliefs of veterans while serving by their sides. Many of these projects are performed in memory of a fallen service member. Since 2007, 15,619 volunteers have completed 270 service projects across the nation on behalf of The Mission Continues.
How can you help?
- There are opportunities to volunteer at the St Louis headquarters. You can read more about these opportunities here.
- Wounded or disabled post-9/11 veterans can become a fellow by accepting the challenge to continue his/her service to our country by serving in his/her community. Learn more and apply here.
- Learn more about and sign up to participate in a Service Project on their website. There you can view existing service projects or create your own.
- You can make a donation to help The Mission Continues empower wounded and disabled veterans to continue their lives of service.
- You can also help The Mission Continues by organizing a fundraiser – they even offer an online tool to assist you.
- In addition, you can spread the word about The Mission Continues and all the great work they are doing.