After getting out of the military, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was too busy trying to combat my mental challenges. I was running, not wanting to face the fact that I would not be able to stay in the military to accomplish my dream of becoming a commissioned officer. My military life as I knew it was over. I went from having a two bedroom, two and a half bathroom home, two cars, and money in the bank, to losing my savings, a car, and my home. My family was forced to live at my mother-in-law’s while I stayed with friends. By the grace of God, we were accepted into Operation Homefront Village. Operation Homefront is a nonprofit organization that helps assist veterans and their family’s transition smoothly out of the military and back into the civilian world. Operation Homefront does this by offering them one, two, or three bedroom apartments free of charge and financial assistance with overdue bills, as well as financial classes.
One day, I was talking with the director of Operation Homefront Village, and she was explaining how great it would be to have someone in the office with administrative skills. I told her I would love to help out in the office, since I had been an administrative assistant with the Army. She told me that she would find some way to have me work in the office with her. Eventually, a friend told me about The Mission Continues. After that day, I passionately pursued The Mission Continues to find out what I needed to do in order to become a Fellow.
Pursuing The Mission Continues was something I sought with conviction. After what Operation Homefront did for my family, I wanted to give back what was given to me. I was able to accomplish this goal on April 22, 2012 when The Mission Continues flew me to San Diego, where I met other fellows from Bravo Class, did orientation, and took an awesome Fellowship Oath at a San Diego Padre’s game with 113 other Veterans from all over the United States.
The impact that I am having on my community is showing Veterans that the mission to serve doesn’t have to end when their military career ends. When those in my community come to the Operation Homefront Village office, they see first-hand that just because you are injured mentally, emotionally, or physically doesn’t mean that you have to stay in a state of devastation. Instead they can take charge of their lives, becoming leaders by serving compassionately with purpose in any community they find themselves in. With The Mission Continues, veterans will not only change for the better, but also build and nourish those in the community around them.
Anthony McNeil served 11 years in the United States Army. He is currently serving a Mission Continues Fellowship at Operation Homefront in San Antonio, Texas.