For the second straight year, Outside Magazine has recognized The Mission Continues in its annual Best Places to Work survey, which measures job satisfaction among innovative practices and a healthy work-life balance.

To Marvin Cadet, an Iraq veteran and member of the 2013 Bravo Fellowship class, the ranking is as accurate as it is unsurprising. He joined the team after his Fellowship ended to boost grassroots fundraising.

“We are an action-oriented organization. Everyone here wants to be doing something,” he said. “That’s part of our culture.”

While some companies emphasize what they can give employees—expansive cafeterias of free food or ultramodern offices, for example—The Mission Continues draws people who want to empower veterans to serve in new ways at home, which is a perk as well as the objective.

“I knew the work that goes on here would be a challenge and exciting,” Marvin said. “I also wanted to add to the narrative of veterans using their skills to serve communities.”

Marvin Cadet at the 9/11 Day of Service in Queens, New York supporting Hour Children.

Marvin Cadet at the 9/11 Day of Service in Queens, New York supporting Hour Children.

That opportunity sets The Mission Continues apart. Instead of doling out charity, we challenge veterans to improve their communities in a number of ways. Fellows mentor at-risk youth in Norfolk, connect homeless veterans with resources in San Diego and help eliminate hunger in St. Louis. In 25 cities, Service Platoons can be found building playgrounds, beautifying urban areas and more. That will grow to 80 communities across the country.

The model works. Just ask Fellowship alumni. We did, and 94 percent said they made in difference in someone’s life. Veterans in the program found themselves more connected to their community—and each other.

That community impact is key, says Brian Wilson, an Iraq veteran and Fellowship alum who now works for The Mission Continues to recruit fellow veterans in the Houston area.

“It is very satisfying to know that the work we do here does not only affect our military veterans, but the greater community as a whole,” he said. “We don’t just stop at helping veterans. We motivate them to help others.”

The Mission Continues occupies a unique place in the veteran non-profit community, where we champion the capabilities of men and woman who have served but recognize the need and potential for a lifelong commitment to service.

An end to a military career, and the fresh start to serve again. Caitlin Shapiro ensures that goes well as Fellowship admissions specialist.

“The best part of my job is when I get to congratulate the incoming class on their acceptance,” she said. “To hear these veterans happily shout out ‘Woohoo!’ and ‘I’m ready to serve’ is truly remarkable. The fact that this ‘task’ is a part of my job is unbelievable.”