community impact at its core
Tangible community benefits: Veterans use the skills they honed in the military to help and empower under-resourced and under-served Communities in America. We work with a community or community organization to reach a pre-defined intended goal that they could not have reached without the service of veterans. This goal becomes our mission in that community.
Bridging the divide between veterans and non-veterans: We create opportunities for veterans and non-veterans to connect and work together. The community has a better understanding of the needs of veterans or feels more closely connected to the veteran population. Veterans learn how to work with others of different backgrounds and develop a sense of empathy for the communities they work in.
Further engagement: Veterans learn and recognize they can make a difference and impact people who need their help, which inspires them to continue serving in their own communities. This addresses veteran isolation and a sense of lacking purpose.
- Karen Quiles, US Marine Corps
the need is clear
Communities all across the country are facing uphill battles and unable to serve their constituencies. Many communities in America are under-funded and under-resourced.
Poverty is rampant and families living in poor communities are less likely to have adequate healthcare and more likely to be unemployed; educational resources are slim, food insecurity is widespread, and safety is of great concern. So many communities need support to solve their problems and lift up their families, but without resources, many communities’ problems only intensify.
Communities can benefit greatly from allowing The Mission Continues and their veteran participants to serve them. Veterans are uniquely qualified to help disadvantaged communities because of the skills and mindsets they have honed through their military service, including:
As a group, veterans have the ability to infuse American communities with fresh ideas, energy, and human capacity to problem solve and build stronger communities. Moreover, allowing veterans to impact communities through their service is the mechanism by which we promote personal growth and connectedness.
Substantial evidence indicates helping others boosts one’s overall happiness and wellbeing.21 Studies22 have found positively impacting the lives of others can help enhance one’s own sense of purpose as well as one’s resilience.23 Helping others also increases empathy and one’s ability to understand one’s colleagues as well and the community they serve.24
When veterans return home, oftentimes they experience a feeling of being “lost,” without a sense of purpose.25 Their desire to continue serving and impacting people around them often goes untapped. TMC programs can help fill that gap by creating opportunities for veterans to continue serving others and impacting communities that need their help.
Veterans also benefit from working in communities because they work alongside nonprofit organization partners, who are often non-veterans. This creates opportunities for veteran/non-veteran connections, but also allows veterans to practice working with people of different backgrounds.
At the same time, non-veterans can also gain a better understanding of the veteran population. Promoting empathy on both sides helps further alleviate the military/non-veteran divide that is common in workplaces, schools, and communities across America.
- Alwyn Rodriguez, US Navy
how we fill the gap
Internal research indicates personal growth is a top motivator for veterans who participate in TMC programs. In a 2017 survey of all program participants, a majority (55.5%) alluded to personal growth as one of the reasons they participated in TMC programs. Nearly two in five (39%) cited finding a purpose as their reason for participating. Moreover, many participants reported being motivated by an interest in furthering their careers/employment opportunities: 25.7% said they participated for professional development, while 15% sought a new career opportunity.
Internal research also reveals that TMC programming effectively answers veterans’ needs for personal growth. Among TMC program participants responding to the 2017 annual survey, 75.6% report feeling a stronger sense of purpose, and more than two-thirds (69.7%) say they are better able to achieve the goals they set for themselves. Nearly half (47.5%) indicate they feel more equipped to work in the civilian world.
TMC programs have the potential to teach or bolster leadership skills. A study of the Service Platoon Program (2014-2015) found that more than three in five (62%) participants report that their participation helped them become a leader. Additionally, employment of participants increased 14 percentage points after participation in the program. 32% of participants reported improved job performance and 28% said their participation improved their chances of finding a job.
Our internal research suggests personal growth through skill building, sense of purpose and achieving goals they have set for themselves (resiliency) are top motivators for veterans who participate in TMC programs, and is an observable outcome that is produced through participation in TMC.
- Derek Auguste, US Army