Military Spouse Magazine

OCT 2018

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night in the ER with my child because they knew I needed it because they knew it would get me out of my head. It's easy to get caught up in the result without stopping to look at the process. We have an inside joke about our ability, (or inability, de- pending who you ask), to build picnic tables, but as we have learned here in Jacksonville, and service platoons across the country, it was always about more than just a picnic table. H This is where I truly got to see the impact that com- munity service and deep-rooted connection to those around you can mean. Leading the Jacksonville 1st Service Platoon, we got to work with several organiza- tions to assist children in foster care, homelessness, military youth, and domestic violence survivors. Behind the scenes, though, is where I believe the true magic happened. While we were out painting and digging up gardens, while we were building picnic tables and planter boxes, we were talking about our experiences and working through issues that we may not have had the opportunity to previously work through. We were making new friends, we were healing, and we were learning new skills that we will have with us for life. All of this happened in a safe space where we knew that at any given moment, the men and women to our right and left always had our back. I have grown so much through my work with the service platoon, both personally and professionally. The list of skills that I have picked up along the way is con- tinuing to grow each day, from networking to building community, project management, and volunteer man- agement, the list could go on forever. I cannot imagine what my life would look like had I not come across the opportunity to volunteer with The Mission Continues. The service platoon has become my family. Yes, we have built picnic tables together, we've gotten dirty building a course for a fundraising mud run, and we have laughed a lot, but when things get real, it's this com- munity—that we have built—that steps up in a big way. Platoon members were among the first people I called when I found out my husband died. They were the people who planned a meal train, made sure my kids got where they needed to be, even made sure I ate in the days and weeks immediately following my husband's death. They were the people who continued mov- ing forward with a large-scale service project we had planned just days after my husband's death—all because I wanted to make sure we did what we had promised to do no matter what. They are the people who encourage me to come out and serve breakfast to the homeless after spending the The Mission Continues has service platoons all over the country waiting for both veterans and community members to step up and make a difference! Our high impact service projects are great for all ages and abilities, so it is a great way for families to serve together! Visit us at missioncontinues.org/service-platoons , see you out there! ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A NEW WAY TO GET INVOLVED IN YOUR COMMUNITY, DEVELOP NEW SKILLS, AND MAKE FRIENDS? Photos provided by Kristle Helmuth OCTOBER 2018 / MILITARYSPOUSE.COM 11

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