By Debbie Gregory.
The Mission Continues is a nonprofit organization that connects Veterans to local community service projects. The organization was founded in 2007, after CEO and Navy Seal Eric Greitens visited wounded Marines at the Bethesda Naval Hospital in Maryland. The Marines showed their desire to continue serving their country.
“I lost my legs, that is all,” one Marine told co-founder Kenneth Harbaugh. “I did not lose my desire to serve, or my pride in being an American.”
This Marine, and many others like him, inspired the formation of The Mission Continues. The organization’s original program, the Fellowship Program, truly exemplifies their motto, “It’s not a Charity, it’s a Challenge.”
Fellowships require 20 hours of service per week for 26 weeks, served with a local nonprofit organization. Fellows choose a nonprofit organization to serve, based on their own personal passions. Fellows have worked at organizations that range from Habitat for Humanity, to the American Red Cross, to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Before beginning their mission, Fellows are required to attend a three-day orientation, joining other post-9/11 Veterans for a weekend of training, service and camaraderie. Upon the completion of orientation, Fellows may officially begin their fellowships with their host organizations.
The Fellowship program has helped to win The Mission Continues various accolades and awards, including Outside Magazine’s “100 Best Places to Work,” and The Nonprofit Times’ “50 Best Nonprofits to Work For.” CEO, Eric Greitens was listed as one of TIME Magazine’s “Top 100 Most Influential People.”
The already acclaimed organization has now begun a new program, “Service Platoons.” This year, the platoons will form-up in 30 cities across the country. Volunteers will fall-in to the ranks of this program right in their own home towns. Aiming for similar goals as the Fellowship Program, the Service Platoon program is intended to engage Veterans through community service, while also giving them a sense of duty and camaraderie. But unlike the Fellowship program, which provides living stipends for Veterans to work on existing charitable projects, the Service Platoons will only volunteer at least one day a month to projects chosen by their groups. And while the platoons will see some financial support from the organization, they will mostly rely on local fundraising instead.
The Mission Continues organization will observe the local impact of each platoon’s individually chosen project, but said they won’t try to choose their projects for them. Instead, their goal is to have the Veteran volunteers identify the local needs and communicate with their communities, other charities and local residents to fix the problems and accomplish THEIR mission.