St. Louis, Mo. (KSDK) -- Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was keynote speaker at the 3rd Annual Gala for the veterans' advocacy organization known as The Mission Continues Saturday night.
The Mission Continues does not identify itself as a charity, but rather an organization that "challenges returning service members to utilize their tremendous skills and leadership to continue serving our country at home."
The Mission Continues was founded by former U.S. Navy SEAL Eric Greitens in 2007 when he returned from his final deployment to Iraq, fueled by the deep belief that veterans are civic assets.
A news release for the 3rd Annual Gala indicates Admiral Mullen and his wife, Deborah, are passionate about the health and welfare of American troops and military families.
Mullen served as the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President's principal military advisor, from October 2007 until September 2011. From 2005 to 2007, Admiral Mullen was the 28th Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy's highest ranking officer. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he was instrumental in integrating Special Operations forces into U.S. military activities, including presiding over the military's role in targeting Osama Bin Laden.
Saturday night in St. Louis, Mullen said, "Since I retired a little over a year ago I've spent a lot of my volunteer time in veterans' space. We've had 2.2 million men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and I had a great privilege as Chairman to lead them for four years. It's an extraordinary group of young people. They're going to make a huge difference for America; they're going to make a huge difference for St. Louis as they return. And The Mission Continues is a great organization with a great model to help these young people to transition to continue to make a difference. This is a generation in their twenties that I'm convinced is going to continue to serve.
The Mission Continues operates by offering six-month community service fellowships to veterans, awarding over 500 fellowships to date.
Greitens said, "I just reached out to Admiral Mullen. We sit together on a veterans' advisory board, talking about veterans' policy, about how we can take this tremendous generation of veterans and help them to start to serve again. I asked him to come and join us and he very graciously accepted."
Greitens said 300 of The Mission Continues 500 fellowships were recruited within the past year.