Southwest Airlines is proud to support the military and be the official airline of The Mission Continues. Since 2010, Southwest has donated more than $640,000 in travel in support of their efforts to empower veterans facing the challenge of adjusting to life at home to find new missions serving their community.
As an infantryman in combat, your survival depends upon the men and women serving alongside you. Your platoon members cover your back as you cover theirs. Teamwork and camaraderie become more than traits—they become ways of life.
Mark Oravsky served for 11 years as an infantryman in the United States Army. During one deployment to Afghanistan, his platoon participated in more than 400 combat missions and patrols. After surviving multiple car bombs and IED attacks, Mark decided it was time for a new mission: raising his children.
Mark Oravsky and Fellows complete a service mission in May 2014.
The transition from military to civilian life presented new challenges for Mark. He returned to school and learned a new trade in construction, but something wasn’t quite right. Mark knew something was missing. The people around him were not working toward a unified goal like in the military, and the cohesive bonds that kept Mark and his comrades together had long dissipated.
Then, in the early morning hours of another night spent searching for a job, Mark found a post describing a fellowship for post-9/11 veterans at The Mission Continues. The fellowship would require a veteran to serve 20 hours per week for six months at a nonprofit organization in his or her community.
Mark had found his answer. He applied for a fellowship and was selected to join a new class beginning in May of 2014.
Before beginning his fellowship, however, Mark first had to attend a three-day orientation. The orientation brings together each new Fellow from across the country for a weekend of service and learning. The weekend is also an opportunity to join a new unit.
The community service and nonprofit work soon created opportunities for Mark to meet other veterans and civilians who were mission focused just like him.
For many veterans, community is at the forefront of the transition experience. In a survey of post-9/11 veterans from The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation, a majority of respondents said they miss some aspect of their military service. The most common answer: the men and women they served with.
At The Mission Continues, we believe community can be forged through continued service. At its foundation, service requires individuals to put others before self. For however brief a moment, the focus is no longer on you but on those you serve. This ethos is at the core of every veteran’s experience.
Fellows arrive at the orientation service mission in May 2014.
Mark Oravsky now reports for duty at GRuB, a nonprofit organization that empowers community members to grow healthy and sustainable sources of food. Through his Mission Continues Fellowship, Mark is building vegetable gardens for low-income families and ensuring his community members do not go hungry.
In the end, community can be reduced to the space between people, and for some veterans transitioning back home, the chasm can appear endless. Service can bridge that gap.
Veterans like Mark are part of a community of thousands of veterans serving across the country through The Mission Continues. Even more importantly, they are creating stronger communities for themselves and their families at the local level.
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