By A.J. Thompson, platoon leader

In today’s story, A.J. Thompson, St. Louis 2nd Platoon Leader, shares the impact volunteering through The Mission Continues has had on him and his community.

AJ volunteering at Mattie Freeland Park on June 10, 2017
AJ volunteering at Mattie Freeland Park on June 10, 2017

I’m A.J. Thompson, and I spent 10 years counseling juvenile delinquents for The State of Missouri, subsequently joining the US Air Force for 6 years, serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

After returning to civilian life, connecting back to this passion of mine was important to me. My new mission was to use the skills I gained from the military to help these kids again. Serving and leading in this cause led me to collaborate with the staff of The Mission Continues to establish youth in the custody of the Missouri Division of Youth Services as the primary focus of the St. Louis 2nd Platoon through youth mentorship and education.

My fellow volunteers and I believe that empowerment can be one of the most effective strategies for providing young people with opportunities to become successful. Our youth need experiences that allow them to be powerful in a positive way, so encouraging them to give back through participation in service projects in their own communities is a great start.

The window of opportunity to shape a healthy mindset for youth is crucial, that’s why our outreach is vital.

A.J. Thompson, St. Louis 2nd Platoon Leader

Veterans, (A.J. on left) talk with young residents at Mattie Freeland Park on June 10, 2017

I‘m beyond thrilled for the opportunity to contribute to as many communities as possible, alongside fellow veterans and civilians who are rooted in humanity by giving back to communities in need through empowerment of youth mentorship and development.

As I’ve participated in more programs with The Mission Continues, my wife (also a veteran) and I have made close friendships with other service-minded veterans from around the country. It’s truly uplifting and inspiring to know I have fellow veterans who are just as mission-driven as we are.