Opening My Parachute and Landing on Solid Ground
December 1, 2016
By Derek Auguste, Fellow Alum
I joined the U.S. Army so that I could gain valuable skills and give my newborn daughter a better life. After enlisting, I soon discovered an incredible sense of purpose and realized I wanted to stay as long as I could. Mentoring young soldiers and seeing them grow brought me great pride. I still remember the days when I trained my soldiers how to parachute out of airplanes — how to make the jump, despite their fears, and trust their parachute would open.
By 2015 however, I realized that what my daughter needed most was my presence in her life. Of my eleven years of service, I had been away from home for nearly half of it, so I made the decision to hang up my uniform and return home to Miami.
I was happy to be with my family again, but it also came with a terrifying feeling — that I was jumping into the great unknown, unsure of where I would land.
I went to college, but I felt I wasn’t able to really connect with people in their 20’s. Even though I was in school earning a degree, I still felt like I was sitting on my hands. I wanted to do something — but that “something” eluded me until I saw The Mission Continues’ call to action: serve again.
These simple words got me off the couch at a time when nothing else could. Through the Fellowship Program, I volunteered for six months at Up2Us Sports, a Miami-based nonprofit that empowers youth to lead healthy and productive lives through sports. During my fellowship, I recruited and mentored veteran coaches to give these underprivileged youth positive relationships with adults.
At the conclusion of my fellowship Up2Us Sports hired me full-time, and I love what I do every day as a program manager. Now, I get to show my daughter how I’m working to make this world a better place for her generation.
Derek, right, serving with Miami 1st Service Platoon.
Since completing my fellowship, I continue to serve with the Miami Service Platoon and have made steadfast friends. The Mission Continues is a community like no other; it is my second family. They gave me the tools to open my parachute at a time when I was in freefall, and inspired me to jump again with confidence.
With your support, The Mission Continues can empower more veterans to land on solid ground and serve again. We can also make a bigger impact on youth in cities across the country, from the Fellows who paint murals, mentor children, and help local nonprofits create new programs, to the service platoons who construct playgrounds, install food pantries, and build hiking trails.
You can support The Mission Continues by donating here.
Report for duty in your community with The Mission Continues. Serve with a Service Platoon at an upcoming service event near you or apply for a fellowship. You can learn more about our programs on our website and stay updated on the latest news and announcements on Facebook and twitter.