Earthsavers of the Month
What’s your service story?
We are The Mission Continues Brooklyn Service Platoon, sponsored by American Express. We are a growing group of military veterans in New York who believe that our service is not done when we come back home. Many of us have deployed to places like Iraq and Afghanistan and we want to use the leadership and civic action skills we gained in the military to better our communities. By doing so, we aim to inspire the next generation to view service as part of their lives. Service has given us purpose and we want to keep that going. Our Brooklyn Service Platoon’s main effort is focused on the Gateway National Parks and Brooklyn’s city parks. We’re working to re-open Fort Tompkins and the Brooklyn War Memorial to the public, to help rebuild after Hurricane Sandy, and to ensure access for all to our city’s amazing parks.
What inspires you to serve?
Purpose is what drives The Mission Continues. We joined the military to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We are action-focused, so we want to see our work translate into real change. This year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Many of the first Park Rangers were military veterans, because they knew how important public lands were for our country and our communities. So, we are dedicated to improving access to our city’s beautiful parks. Seeing hundreds of young people work alongside veterans on SCA’s MLK Day of Service was incredibly rewarding for us. We have a saying in the military called “Charlie Mike!” which means “continue mission.” Charlie Mike was in full effect this weekend.
How do you feel military service and community service are connected?
When you serve in the military and are confronted with the reality of sacrificing life and family to defend our country and our values, you learn a lot. You learn what really motivates you. You learn the importance of teamwork. You learn that the greatest “high” you can get is when your team is all focused together on the same mission. Community service back home has many of the same elements… mission and action focus, the need for teamwork and for a group of people to come together to make a difference, and the acknowledgment of love for our country and community.
What is your favorite green space in New York City?
With stunning views of lower Manhattan, a rich military history, and available camping grounds, Fort Wadsworth on Staten Island tops our list. On 9/11, we recently led a project to remove 20 tons of debris from Fort Tompkins, which at one point was our country’s longest continuously-run military base. Now it is a National Park and needs volunteers to help maintain it.
Tell us about one of your favorite service experiences.
A couple years ago, some NYC members of The Mission Continues had the opportunity to lead a service project with President Obama and the First Lady in Washington, DC. That will forever be a highlight for us.