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.