The Mission Continues

One of the reasons that many veterans joined the military was to be part of something bigger than themselves. The concept of service is a significant part of what it means to be in the military, so much so it can be found all over military terminology – “branch of service,” “servicemember,” “service before self.” That desire to serve, to be of use, to contribute, does not suddenly dissipate the day you trade in your dog tags for your DD-214. It is a desire that many of us carry with us beyond our military days but which can, after leaving the military, be difficult to fulfill, as few occupations require the same commitment or provide the same sense of contributing to the greater good. Therefore, this week I am going to cover a few venues which allow veterans to continue to “give back.”

“It’s not a Charity. It’s a Challenge.”

That’s the motto of The Mission Continues, a non-profit that provides Post-9/11 veterans with fellowships to help them in their public service endeavors. The organization was founded by Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL (stop back by Sunday to learn more about Eric’s story), after visiting wounded Marines at Bethesda and hearing them say that they all wished to continue to serve in some capacity. Designed to help them do just that, The Mission Continues provides veterans with training and the opportunity to contribute by helping them get involved in their local community. Since 2007, it has awarded 840 fellowships and received a host of awards and recognition, including a Draper Richards Fellowship for creating significant social change and a Target “Best of Bullseye Award.” And, according to research briefs on The Mission Continues’ site conducted by the Washington University’s George Warren Brown School of Social Work, 100% of their fellows would recommend the program to others.

Basic fellowship details:

– Fellowship awardees will begin with a three-day orientation with their fellow Post-9/11 awardees, for a weekend of “training, service and camaraderie.”

  • Travel and accommodations for the orientation will be covered by The Mission Continues
  • Be sure to pack clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, as you will complete a service project as part of the orientation

– Complete a minimum of “20 hours of service per week for 26 weeks at a local nonprofit organization” and a service project

  • Details and training on how to plan and conduct the service project will be provided

– Complete monthly assignments designed to help the military to civilian transition process

– Receive a “living stipend” during the 6 months of participation

  • The stipend is a taxable, monthly paid during the fellowship
  • Stipend is variable based on locale and contingent on meeting certain “benchmarks” during the program
  • Stipend may be declined if participant does not need it or if it will interfere with other sources of income, such as SSDI or VA pensions (stipend should not interfere with other types of VA payments, such as disability payments)

Basic eligibility for the fellowship:

– Have served in the military after 9/11 for a minimum of 24 months (unless seriously injured)

– No longer be serving in an active duty, reserve, or guard status (IRR/ING status is okay and you may begin the application process while still serving)

– Have an honorable discharge

– Pass a criminal background check

Application requirements: The application process is done in steps, with an e-mail coming to you in between each step, and will require several written statements, so I recommend reviewing the application and taking some time to think about your answers before going back in to complete the application, as the window will time out after 30 minutes.

  1. Create an account
  2. Provide contact information and details of your military service
  3. Complete full application which asks for such details as:

– Past volunteer experience

– Details of your military service, deployments, awards, specialized training

– Two references:

i. Preferably one military and one civilian (no relatives allowed)

ii. Individuals who can speak to your character, work ethic, experience, and other personal and professional details

– An explanation, no less than 100 words, of why you want to participate in this fellowship program, a short essay on what being a citizen leader means to you, and clearly stated, attainable professional and service goals with concrete deadlines

– Agree to a criminal background check

– Submit supporting documentation:

i. A copy of your DD-214 (long version, that shows your character of discharge)

ii. Proof of VA disability rating, if applicable

Upcoming deadlines: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

– Apply by 17 Feb 2014 for a 2014 fellowship (May-Nov)

– Apply by 2 Jun 2014 for a 2014/2015 fellowship (Sep-Mar)

To learn more about The Mission Continues or to apply for a fellowship, go to: http://missioncontinues.org/ or check them out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/#!/themissioncontinues

© 2013, Sarah Maples. All rights reserved.

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