A pivotal transition happens for veterans when they go from military to civilian life. Now, one organization is stepping up to make that process easier with a unique approach.
U.S. Army Veteran Silas Rosales has been battling PTSD since serving in Iraq. He says even being in traffic and enclosed situations are triggers for him. He says, 'I just like to keep myself busy. If I'm not getting out, I'm going into a deeper depression.'
The transition out of the military into civilian life was tough for Rosales, but even for many veterans who are not physically or mentally wounded, it is a big change.
U.S. Marine Veteran Stephen Braden spoke with us saying, 'You feel isolated. You come from this group especially marines, great brotherhood, good camaraderie, and, then you find yourself all alone.'
The mission continues has made it its focus to address the transition. It brings veterans together socially through community service projects. The mission continues is doing even more though than bringing veterans together. One 4x4 at a time, it's building playgrounds, classrooms, and other projects to help improve local communities.
The mission continues serves 49 states. Its most recent success is completing outdoor classrooms and a playground for one South Texas elementary school Higgs, Carter, King Gifted and Talented Charter Academy.
The School Administrator Daniel Martinez, who is also a U.S. Air Force veteran, believes, 'it absolutely means everything for the kids, [and] it beautifies what's happening around here. You can actually see.''
Previously, the school did not have a playground and was affected by multiple thefts and neighboring prostitution. As it continues to transform communities in San Antonio and around the nation, it is also making a difference in veterans' lives. Rosales says,'Working with these guys, it's awesome. Words can hardly say anything to express my feelings.' Braden furthered those sentiments saying, 'We're all experiencing the same things. So, camaraderie and coming outside into the community has been what's been helping me through school. It's helped me a great deal.'
Department of Veteran Affairs Doctor of Psychology Timothy Rentz specializes in veteran transition and says it makes perfect sense that serving alongside fellow veterans in a different capacity would be trans-formative in several ways. Rentz comments, 'I hear frequently that veterans will say they had a purpose when they were in the military when they were deployed. They had a mission. They had a job. When they get out, they feel kind of aimless and adrift.'
And, the mission continues seems to be providing that purpose for many as as U.S. Air Force Veteran Cyrstal Lafleur experienced. She now helps volunteer managing projects in San Antonio like this one and says, 'It's something tangible for these veterans. They want to build something. They want to drive by at some other time and see 'we did that for the community' but they also want these kids to know, someone cares.'