Post 9/11 Veterans: What Will Be Their Legacy?

Eric Greitens testifying before congress, March 27, 2012.

Will society focus on the strengths that returning warriors bring as they transition into civilian life, work and school? Or, will the heightened awareness of PTSD and record number of suicides overshadow the contributions from Post 9/11 Veterans?

Those are the questions posed by the founder of The Mission Continues, CEO Eric Greitens, when he testifed before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee for Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs, March 27, 2012.

“The story of this generation of veterans is still being written. Some have a tendency to rely on PTSD figures on unemployment statistics and suicide rates to tell us how our veterans are transitioning,” Greitens told congressmen. “But these statistics do not tell the whole story. These statistics do not capture a veteran’s continued desire to serve and their willingness to lead in communities upon their return.”

Greitens said that the returning wounded warriors he’s talked to tell him the same thing:  “I want to return to my unit.”

A former Navy SEAL who served four tours, Greitens, started his national, non-profit organization to help injured Veterans do just that. Their service continues by working in local non-profit organizations that coordinate with Greitens’ organization.

So far, The Mission Continues has provide 6-month fellowships to 255 transitioning, injured Veterans working with more than 100 organizations. Their individual missions ranged from training service dogs and mentoring refugees to coaching football and building homes for Habit for Humanity.

Here is Greitens’ testimony:

Greitens offered the congressional panel some recommendations such as setting up a joint VA and Department of Defense system with guidelines to accredit non-profit Veterans organizations such as The Mission Continues.

He told them that rules vary nationwide and there currently is “no central way to become accredited.” Many small non-profit organizations with a national footprint, like Greitens’, do not have the ability or resources to get accredited for every base and VA installation where certification measures differ.

He said congress should use its bully pulpit to the get message out about the capabilities of returning Veterans.

“I believe we have a battle on our hands right now to determine what the future what the legacy of this generation of veterans is going to be,” Greitens said.

He promised to return to congress in the coming months with specific recommendations on ways Mission Continues can engage with existing federal programs that help Veterans serve within their communities.

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