By Angel Gual, platoon leader

I joined the military because I wanted to do something better than staying in a city that I knew I would not survive in. I dreamed of seeing new places and meeting new people. I knew I had to take a leap in life and leave the security of my family.

My experiences during my 20 years of service have been phenomenal, from seeing the Berlin Wall months before they tore it down to flying over the jungles of Vietnam assisting in MIA searches. I signed up knowing war was a daily possibility, low pay and long hours. But I received knowledge, lifetime friends and the addiction to serve until I die.

I struggled mentally and emotionally to fit myself into “civilian” life. I joined at 17 going on 18. I had no experience in resumes, job interviews or any work experience for the past 20 years. My family is what kept me going, knowing that quitting was not an option.

The military was not concerned about those of us whose time in service was done. The only organizations that were available to us was the VFW or American Legion. That’s great for someone who just wanted to finish their life while smoking, drinking and listening to stories from the 60’s and back.

Years later I sat at my computer and decided I wanted to see what organizations might now be out there that a veteran like me can participate in.

When I found The Mission Continues website and read what they do I was excited that I could have a chance not only to serve again, but to serve with my veteran brothers and sisters in my own community.

I joined almost 5 years ago and haven’t looked back, or slowed down. I have been given the awesome opportunity to not only be a platoon leader, but to start a platoon from the ground up. I have met and been inspired by so many platoon leaders, members and TMC staff.

Being a part of The Mission Continues gives me hope I will live a long life doing what I love so much, serving others, serving my community.