We are portrayed as this damaged generation of veterans.
We're not liabilities to this nation--we're assets.
Rachel Gutierrez grew up in a Detroit suburb, the daughter of a military family who have served their country for generations. At 17, Rachel enlisted in the Army, and in 2004 was deployed to Iraq. While in Iraq, Rachel experienced and endured the daily challenges of war before returning home in the fall of 2005.
“When I got out of the military, it seemed like everything was fine in my life,” said Rachel. “But I was dealing with PTSD and undetected autoimmune diseases, and didn’t know it. I was really depressed, lonely and isolated. A friend told me about a program called The Mission Continues, and it ignited my sense of purpose.”
The Mission Continues is an organization that empowers veterans who are adjusting to life after the military. They deploy veterans on new missions in local communities, so they can focus their talents and energy to tackle challenges here at home.
In 2012, Rachel was awarded a Fellowship, through which she dedicated her time to working with homeless and at-risk women veterans reintegrating with their communities. In 2013, The Mission Continues launched their Service Platoon program, a grassroots movement to engage local veterans through civic action.
Rachel took the lead, launching 1st Platoon, and focusing on homelessness. Her projects included large scale renovations on homeless shelters, and nighttime street outreaches to find, identify, and help homeless veterans. Rachel also focuses on her own veteran Platoon members, ensuring they are taken care of and have access to the resources they need to aid in their transitions back to civilian life.
Rachel recently launched 2nd Platoon Phoenix, with the focus of helping disadvantaged and underserved youth in the community. Rachel credits the Platoon’s military background with its success. “We know how to work as a team and keep working until we accomplish the mission,” said Rachel. “Everybody sees what we do, but I don’t think people realize that these veterans are in fact serving again. And while we're serving others, we help and support each other. I think that is a really beautiful thing.”
Outside of her volunteer work, Rachel has two children that she loves spending time with outdoors and traveling. Rachel’s supportive boyfriend, Kenneth, a platoon auxiliary member, will be joining her on the cruise.