The United States military invests almost unlimited time, energy, and financial resources in a well thought out and structured program that takes civilians and turns them into Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coasties: military service members all. With heads held high and backs straight, we went forward with our Battle Buddies and did our jobs with pride in our ability to accomplish the mission. And yet, when we finished our service, shined, cleaned, and turned in all our TA-50 (do they still call it TA-50?), one of the first post-service things we experience is a missionectomy™ : the seemingly permanent removal of the guiding force that had been with us 24/7/365…for years.
David Preston is a Desert Storm veteran who felt lost and mission-less when he left the service in 1992. "I've had a good life as a husband and business person, but in 2017 I realized making a living by going to work each day was no longer enough: I needed my mission back. So I enrolled in the Master of Military Social Work program at Walden University while supporting my family and doing what I had to do...until I could do what I wanted to do. On November 11th, 2020, I earned the qualifications to serve my fellow veterans as they transition to regain their mission as veterans in a civilian world."
VetStrong will provide a structured approach for veterans and their families to identify and prioritize their needs. With their specific short, intermediate, and long-term goals in mind, we will connect them to the resources they need to accomplish those goals. Together, we'll create an environment where current and future Veterans work together to become as mission-oriented and successful at being Veterans as we felt when we were fresh out of our initial training: short hair, straight backs, and a gleam in our eyes people could see for miles.
Whether it's a matter of maturity and additional life experience, or the burden of a ruck full of traumatic memories, survivor's guilt, and moral injury, the people we are when we leave the military are not the people we were when we entered the military. Not all of us are broken, but for better, worse, or often both, we are not the people we were when we raised our right hands, any more than civilians are 20 years after high school. We'll always be veterans, which we define as civilian + military service = Veteran. We won't ever be civilians again, and that can be an excellent thing. We need a process of AIT2 (Advanced Individual Training Phase 2), where we complete the transition from service member to Veteran…and to do that, we need to reverse the missionectomy™.
If you want to help us build this community, represent an existing VSO we need to connect with, or want to know how we can help you get your mission back, email our founder at firstname.lastname@example.org. Together, we will roll up our sleeves and create a movement we can all be proud of.