Veterans bond over charitable giving

Mission continues for veterans giving back

KISSIMMEE, Fla – Bobby Withers, 1st Platoon leader of The Mission Continues, is this week's Getting Results Award winner.

A retired Army captain, Withers has led the veteran-supported charity for a little over a year. He said one of his first priorities was to give assistance to Puerto Rican evacuees from Hurricane Maria.

"I knew right away there would be a need," he said. "We started working right away."

Withers and more than 100 volunteers assembled furniture, rebuilt bicycles and packed hygiene kits as part of the Sunshine State Boricua Build, their latest project.

"We do community service projects with veterans," he said, explaining the organization's mission. "It gets us out of the house and renews that sense of purpose. We continue serving. It's the same reason we were in the military."

A crowded warehouse in Kissimmee was buzzing with the sound of hammers, ratchets and music as veterans and their families assembled over 200 pieces of furniture, repaired 50 bicycles and assembled 1,000 hygiene and welcome home kits. Some of the kits will make their way to the Florida Panhandle for those recovering from Hurricane Michael.

"I call it service therapy," Withers said. "You stop thinking about yourself and your issues and start thinking about those who have much less than you."

Withers says volunteering with The Mission Continues is a way for many here to reconnect with the camaraderie they felt in the service.

2nd Platoon leader, Yaritza Perez agreed. She called it the blue Kool Aid.

"It's a way for us to get around other warriors," she said. "It's a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood. We already served our mission while we were on active duty and now we're just continuing the mission within our community."      

Withers joined the military on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. He became a combat adviser and was embedded with the Afghanistan army.

Withers was injured in an early-morning attack on Bagram Airfield in 2010.  He stepped on an old Russian land mine and lost part of his leg as a result.  

"I spent my entire young life training to be the best soldier and platoon leader I could possibly be and when I was injured I didn't know if everything that I had sacrificed for was for nothing," Withers said.

Withers said he found purpose and direction coordinating a new platoon right here at home.

"This is what makes me proud. This is what I feel like I was built to do," Withers said. "The Army literally built me to be a platoon leader and now I get to lead a service platoon." 

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.