The Mission Continues

August 19, 2009 4:33:23 PM PDT
Thousands of returning American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are coming home to find civilian life difficult. Here in the valley a national organization - "The Mission Continues" is helping restore their sense of purpose and one valley veteran is working to bring Veterans of all eras together to sort out old wounds and begin new service to their communities.That veteran's name is Vincent Garcia. A proud U.S. Marine who stares out from a photo in his dress uniform, a man with a mission to serve and protect his country. A job he voluntarily took on with pride and no reservations.

He went off to war in March of 2003 and was among the first American soldiers to arrive in Baghdad. He would complete two tours of duty before leaving the Corps as the end of his enlistment. The transition to civilian life and finding work didn't go smoothly it hasn't for many returning veterans of all branches of the military, "They miss being in the service but their afraid to ask for help, they don't want to ask for help." And the skills, the training and the real world just didn't mesh at home either, "Well, what'd you do in the Marines? I blew stuff up and I shot guns. It's hard to translate that in the real world."

That was two years ago. With temporary jobs, few useful civilian skills and a diagnosis of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) he was having trouble seeing a future until he found the San Joaquin Valley Veterans' Center in Fresno. There were other Vets like himself, to talk with and to relate to. He's now counseling other Vet's like himself. He and his wife are expecting their first child and Garcia wants to be part of his community again.

So when last Spring he learned about "'The Mission Continues", a national program offering support to vets with a focus on serving at home he volunteered. Anne Bacher is the Central Valley Coordinator of The Mission Continues, "We have a great need not just to say 'Thank You' but to say we still need you. That they can continue their mission just in a new way." Bacher met Garcia and encouraged him to submit a mission plan of his own and to apply for TMC fellowship to fund it.

His work at the Vet Center led him to what he wanted to do, "Just putting together this program is my therapy. I named my program 'Brothers Forever' because no matter whom, where, when, what service: We're all brothers, all of the same team."

His idea? To give Vets of all ages and services a place to share what only they know and learn ways to keep giving back to the country they fought for, "The camaraderie part of it, being around other veterans, it's hard to explain it unless you're a veteran and done and seen certain things."

Combat, sacrifice and loss can hurt but with your relationship with those who served as you did can lead past the battle field. Vincent Garcia is hoping that Vets and supporters will come to the Clovis Veteran's Memorial Building Friday, August 21st to join "his" mission that continues here at home.

DATE: August 21, 2009
TIME: 6:00PM TO 9:00PM
LOCATION: Clovis Memorial Building Clovis, CA
CONTACT: Vincent Garcia at
(559) 288-8838 or e-mail at: Vegarcia_1218@yahoo.com

Related Links:
The Mission Continues
San Joaquin Valley Veterans

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