Feature Article - March 2016
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Military Recreation & Readiness

Innovation, Efficiency and Enhanced Community Engagement

In one project, the organization's New York 2nd Service Platoon brought together more than 100 volunteers for a two-day service project at Fort Wadsworth on Sept. 11 and 12, 2015. The fort, which overlooks New York Harbor and is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, has been closed to the general public because of years of deterioration. The volunteers worked to remove trash and debris from rooms in the Civil War-era building.

"We cleared out 30 tons of trash and debris. Stuff from decades ago," Scheinberg said. "And that was just the beginning. We realized, this is closed to the public and it should be open. So now our effort is on continuing work on removing debris and bringing in experts to help with the flooring and electricity and getting it to a point where it can be used for public good and public use. And all around there's landscaping and trails. There's a lot of work to do."

While each project is different, many events feature large-scale volunteer events of around four hours in which the veterans can assault a task. "We always get underestimated and then people always say, 'Holy crap, I've never seen volunteers work that fast or intensely before,'" Scheinberg said. "Almost every project I've ever done with a new partner has been like that."

In addition to its service platoons, The Mission Continues also offers fellowships to post-9/11 veterans that involve 20 hours of service per week for 26 weeks at a local nonprofit or community organization. Eligible 501(c)(3) organizations can apply with the organization to have a fellow serve with them.

According to Scheinberg, success in getting veterans to participate in these kinds of efforts takes a unique approach. "If you're trying to attract veterans, it's not your grandma's type of service," Scheinberg said. "It can't be nice and flowery. It's got to be badass. It's got to be tough and gritty. That's what attracts veterans. And that's what attracted them to the military."

In addition to helping reintegrate veterans into civilian life, service and recreational programs can give ex-military members a chance to be active, competitive and an asset to their communities.

"We exist because we don't agree with the portrayal of veterans as victims or people who got a bum rap," Scheinberg said. "We see veterans as assets, as leaders, as able to do types of service work that most people don't want to or can't."