(BPT) - Many people can remember where they were, how they felt and most of all, how their lives changed on September 11, 2001. Those terrorist attacks impacted our country’s affairs at home and abroad as many chose to step up and serve their country and community that day. Twenty years later, that commitment continues as veterans serve in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, food insecurity and other challenges facing communities.
“Service above self is ingrained in veterans and it’s why many of us joined the military — we were looking for ways to connect to other people and serve a cause greater than ourselves,” said Mary Beth Bruggeman, Marine veteran and president of The Mission Continues. “But representing less than 10% of the population, veterans alone can’t solve the challenges that exist within our communities. It will take both veterans and non-veterans working together toward a shared goal to create positive change through continued service.”
As Veterans Day approaches, there are several ways to honor veterans and their spirit of service, including:
- Don’t just thank – ask. While thanking a veteran is a great way to show appreciation, consider asking a veteran about their time in service: What did it mean to them to serve and what did they learn from their experience? Taking the time to ask about their service is a great way to engage in conversation and learn more about a veteran.
- Identify challenges and opportunities in your organization. During their time in service, veterans learn many valuable and transferable skills such as leadership and teamwork. Veterans often seek out these types of challenges once their service is complete and would welcome the opportunity to help find solutions. They can bring a unique perspective along with a different type of expertise that you may not have.
- Get involved in the community. This is important for non-veterans and veterans alike. And organizations such as the nonprofit The Mission Continues enlist veterans and volunteers and connect them to under-resourced communities to improve educational resources, tackle food insecurity, foster neighborhood identity and more.
In reflecting, it’s important to recognize the significance of continuing the mission forward to shape the future. This year, The Mission Continues, an organization dedicated to the empowerment of veterans as community-based leaders, launched Operation Enduring Service, a year-long service campaign to honor the 20th anniversary of the attacks and inspire the next 20 years of service. More than 80 service projects are being held throughout communities all across the country that veterans will lead. Volunteers are needed to support those service efforts to help under-resourced communities. To learn more and join the effort, visit: https://www.missioncontinues.org/enduringservice/.