‘Facing Stigma’ with Spencer Kympton

“I was born at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, into a military family and military environment. My dad was a West Point graduate, and I lived there when I was a kid while he taught there. Along with my dad, several members of my family inspired me to serve: my grandparents, uncle, and aunt. Together, they built a history and tradition of service, and each acted upon the debt we owed our country for the privilege of growing up here. I served eight years in the Army as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot, in duty stations like Bosnia, Korea, and Central America. My service was largely in the 1990’s, and I was engaged in diverse operations like counter-narcotics, peace enforcement, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. When the tragic events of 9/11 happened, my plans to transition out of the military were already in motion. My decision not to alter those plans, and ultimately to leave the Army in the summer of 2002, is one that I’ve reflected on almost daily for the last 18 years. A good friend of mine from West Point also made the same decision I did, at the very same time. Like me, he always wrestled with his decision, and ultimately in 2009 he decided to leave his professional “civilian” career to serve again in the Army. He deployed to Iraq, where he was killed within the first three weeks of his deployment. The abrupt and tragic end to his service, apart from being a tremendous blow emotionally, compelled me to reconsider my own service with new energy and focus. I decided that the best way for me to honor Jason’s legacy, and to honor our generation of veterans’ military service, was to help them recapture the sense of purpose they had in the military; the same sense of purpose that Jason was seeking after he left it. I believe that a basic and important component of mental health and wellness is the fulfillment that comes from following a path of purpose and mission. At The Mission Continues, we’re driven to put veterans and their families back into missions of importance. Our vision is that every veteran who has a desire to continue serving, finds opportunities to serve again by rolling up their sleeves and helping to transform their community.”

Healing the hidden wounds of war