By Amanda Boston

Local resident and Army veteran Nadja Cockrell is on a mission to help others. After eight years in the military, Cockrell left the service due to combat related injuries. Although no longer on active duty, her serving spirit continues to influence and serve others through Tampa Bay’s The Mission Continues service platoon.

The Mission Continues is a non-profit organization that helps military veterans reintegrate into civilian life through service projects in their local community. Cockrell described her difficult transition after separating from military service.

“In the military, we go from such a high sense of purpose—from literally saving lives on a daily basis. Then we get out, hold everyday jobs, and sometimes, we have trouble finding purpose.”
The national organization was founded in 2007 and is divided up into ‘service platoons’ throughout the country, each one teaming up with a local non-profit organization in its respective community. As a platoon, the veterans support their community through service projects, and in doing so, they often discover a new purpose and recreate the military camaraderie.

Tampa 1st Service Platoon was established in 2015 and joined forces with the Women’s Resource Center in Brandon. The partnership holds a unique distinction among all the other service platoons as it is the only platoon hosted by a faith-based, non-profit organization.

The two non-profits work side by side to combat homelessness through a variety of outreaches and service projects. The Tampa platoon was instrumental in restoring the Women’s Resource Center’s Little White House which provides temporary shelter for families in crisis. Additionally, the platoon has sorted, packed and loaded trucks for ECHO (Emergency Care Help Organization), a charitable organization that provides emergency relief through food and clothing.

Cockrell relayed that many non-profit organizations have the ability to procure material resources but will often lack the necessary manpower. Fortunately, the Tampa platoon has filled this gap by continually meeting the labor needs of these local philanthropic organizations.

Cockrell has served with The Mission Continues since its creation. However, in early 2017, she accepted full responsibility for Tampa 1st Service Platoon as its platoon leader. Even though The Mission Continues is not a Christian organization, John 13:35 says, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Cockrell explained how actions speak louder than words and how she shows the love of Jesus through her leadership role. “You don’t always have to quote Scripture or say the names, Jesus and God. You just have to display Jesus’ values,” said Cockrell.

Tampa 1st Service Platoon holds monthly meetings on the third Tuesday of the month at 1:30 p.m. at the Women’s Resource Center, located at 1017 Kingsway Rd. in Brandon. Although the majority of its members are veterans, the organization has recently opened up its membership to everyone.

For information, visit www.missioncontinues.org or email Nadja Cockrell at ncockrell@missioncontinues.org.