Every year on Memorial Day, we remember those who have passed in active military service as well as those who have served. But at our United Way, we also honor and serve veterans every day of the year. Since its inception in 2016, United Way Mission United has served 457 veterans in our community. The United Way initiative acts as a single point of entry for veterans to access the help they need at no cost, and offers more than just a seamless transition from active duty to civilian life; it offers a way for them to connect with the community and fellow veterans. “We’re creating a safe zone or ‘green zone,’” says Rasheem Howell, Interim Director of Mission United. “Miami-Dade veterans can talk about their personal challenges, opportunities, and services available to better themselves and their families.”
Mission United hosts events for veterans from all walks of life, from employment workshops and outreach activities to offering help through the United Way Center for Financial Stability. The popular “Warrior Wednesday” is a quarterly series offered on different topics from warriors in the workplace to discussing advanced education, finances, the arts and more. Panelists offer advice to not just veterans, but veteran supporters and veteran families alike. Mission United also hosts events for veteran families too. They recently organized a baby shower for 42 veteran moms sponsored by Telemundo. These emotion-filled events are important not just for the veterans involved, but for the community. But it’s events like their recent Carnival-themed evening that lift the spirits of veterans at the Miami Veteran Affairs Hospital and really seem to resonate with volunteers. Carnival games were arranged for 25 veterans by 13 volunteers, and they played everything from cornhole and bowling to giant Jenga
“The veterans of our military services have put their lives on the line to protect the freedoms that we enjoy,” says Anne Lehner-Garcia, BAC Florida Bank vice president & CRA officer, and Mission United volunteer. “The United Way of Miami-Dade’s Mission United honors these men and women everyday by empowering them on so many levels to re-acclimate to civilian life. BAC Florida Bank felt privileged to ease the transition for those who have served and sacrificed so much on our behalf by volunteering and participating in the Mission United Operation: Carnival Fun.” So what’s next for Mission United? On May 22, the next Warrior Wednesday will be dedicated to honoring the veteran community in observance of Memorial Day. Retired Navy Chief Janette Chandler will speak about the importance and history of Memorial Day and a mindful meditation will be led to reflect and honor those who have passed. Attendees will also have the opportunity to dedicate a small flag to a fallen soldier. At the end of the event, these flags will be placed in front of the United Way Empowerment Building. For more information on the event or to get involved with United Way Mission United, e-mail email@example.com or call 305-4-UNITED.