WASHINGTON — More than 70 veterans gathered with Washington Mystics players and community members for a joint mission to give children a place to safely play in a D.C. neighborhood plagued by violence.

“This is not a day off for veterans. This is a day where we shine and we show folks we are not here for help – we are here to help,” said Mary Beth Bruggeman, a director for The Mission Continues, which helps post 9/11 veterans transition to civilian life through community service.

Armed with jackhammers and paint brushes, veterans with the nonprofit group filled the empty lot in Congress Park with a new basketball court, picnic tables and grills.

Vets said they feel a sense of pride being able to serve the community after years serving their country.

“It’s not about enjoying a meal or, you know, relaxing. It’s about going out and doing service,” said one veteran.

To turn this area into something the neighborhood can be proud of and a place where the kids can go to feel safe,” said Connor, an Army vet.

Tayler Hill was among the Mystics players helping install the basketball court.

“It’s a blessing. My mom is a veteran so it’s a big deal for me giving back to the community,” Hill said.

“This is the day when I truly believe in my heart that Veterans need to get out from behind their desk, from home and serve in their community more than anything,” Bruggeman said.

WNEW’s Chuck Carroll contributed to this report. Follow him and WNEW on Twitter.

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