Transforming Communities in New York — And Beyond
by Natasha Srour
I discovered The Mission Continues after a friend lent me the book The Heart and the Fist by Eric Greitens. I had just moved to New York to begin a documentary photography program at the International Center of Photography and was interested in covering veterans issues. After reaching out to The Mission Continues, they kindly invited me to attend one of the New York Service Platoon’s operations: rebuilding a playground in Brooklyn. Members of the platoon, in collaboration with Kaboom, rebuilt a playground destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in one weekend. Their work would benefit kids in the neighborhood for years to come.
Over the next few months I attended several platoon events and interviewed multiple veterans. I discovered The Mission Continues gives veterans a sense of purpose and community that many experienced while in military service, yet sometimes were challenged to find in civilian life. This work not only benefits veterans, but also the broader community. They build playgrounds, pass out meals to housebound seniors, and participate in a variety of volunteer activities in and around greater New York. And their work extends across the country.
It is inspirational to see an organization like The Mission Continues function on multiple levels, benefiting all those involved. I met and photographed incredible veterans who shared their stories with me. Many veterans had been through difficult experiences, but the various service opportunities offered through The Mission Continues unify veterans under the common purpose of helping those in their community. This drove them to want to do more and continue to serve as they had in the military. These veterans inspire or instill in those around them with a desire to do more and truly lead by example.
Natasha Srour is a photographer based in New York City.