Theresa Howley, a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, never imagined when she participated in Home Base Southwest Florida’s 6-month Warrior Health & Fitness Program, that she would find herself on the other side of the spectrum – helping fellow Veterans as part of the Home Base team. But earlier this fall, in October, Howley settled into her new role as a Mission Continues Fellow working with the Home Base Southwest Florida team as a Veteran Outreach Coordinator and community liaison.
Both Home Base and Mission Continues have recently been recognized as members of the George W. Bush Institute’s Warrior Wellness Alliance and it is through this distinction, a budding collaboration evolved.
Designed to promote transformational change for military communities in need all across the country, the Mission Continues is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that partners with community organizations to provide recently transitioned veterans fellowships with management training and hands-on experience in the civilian workforce. Each fellowship combines volunteer service, professional development, and personal growth to deliver a unique impact in the community. Since Mission Continues’ founding in 2007, more than 2,000 veterans have been awarded Mission Continues Fellowships at more than 1,700 nonprofit organizations.
Home Base staff recently sat down with Howley to ask her a few questions about her military career and how she hopes to give back to the Southwest Florida Veteran community through her work with Home Base
What are your responsibilities as a Mission Continues fellow at Home Base Southwest Florida?
My goal as a Mission Continues fellow with Home Base is to help as many Veterans and their families as possible, by connecting them to the incredible resources available, such as their 6-month Warrior Health & Fitness Program. I am a recent graduate of the 6-month health and wellness program and have experienced first-hand the impact it had on my life and how much better I know feel about my physical and mental health. If I could help other veterans to feel the same way about their health, that would mean everything.
What unique attributes do Veterans bring to the Southwest Florida community and how do you hope to connect with them as a Fellow?
I think Veterans bring a multitude of attributes to not only Southwest Florida but everywhere. We are dependable, loyal, have a strong sense of Patriotism and a great work ethic – we always would lend a helping hand to anyone in need. My military experience has made me both a strong person and a very sensitive person. My goals with Home Base are to empower fellow Veterans as they make their transition into the civilian workforce. I’ve seen Veterans, like myself, who were at home sitting on the couch feeling bad, feeling socially isolated, with no structured path. Here, at Home Base, they find a renewed belief in themselves – and in their community. The truth is you can be negatively affected by combat, as most people would be, and still come back and be a leader in your community.