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Veteran platoons honor 9/11 by volunteering in cities across the US

Joseph Wade
Source: The Mission Continues

A standing army of veterans and active duty service members belonging to 52 platoons of the nonprofit The Mission Continues is honoring the memory of those who died during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in a week long effort.

Called "United in Service", the event organizes volunteer projects in 26 cities in the United States, and is led by service platoons of 50 to 100 veterans and active duty service members who signed up with The Mission Continues. These same people contribute to ongoing regional volunteer projects throughout the country.

While there are service projects organized by these platoons all year round, "United in Service" began the first week of the month, and runs through Sunday.

The projects vary in size and scope, and cover everything from building houses for the homeless to landscaping in national parks. In larger cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, The Mission Continues has multiple platoons coming together to work on large projects. On Saturday, four groups deployed to Ellis Island on Saturday, teaming up to remove debris left behind by Hurricane Sandy.

Highlighting some major service missions, Northeast executive director of The Mission Continues, Aaron Scheinberg told CNBC that service platoons operate in areas of "very high need."

It serves an additional purpose of bringing attention to veterans who continue to serve the country in positive ways, he explained.

"Veterans, we're more than just suicide statistics, and we're more than those who are struggling. You can have a challenging integration, but also, as many of our military members have for our entire nation's history, participate and lead as a community leader," Scheinberg said.

The Mission Continues first "United in Service" campaign was held just two years ago in Detroit, when it only had five platoons. The organization clusters events around important dates like Memorial Day, 9/11 and Veterans Day.

After the success of the first major campaign focused on the serving the community of Detroit, the Mission Continues rapidly expanded its number of platoons.

"We knew that we wanted to get the opportunity for veterans serving in the community and making an impact to as many people as possible," Scheinberg said.

"Last year, we realized we have a large number of veterans invested in what we do, and because we're a very grassroots model and all of our work is at the local level, there isn't much that was connecting us nationally on larger campaigns," he added.

"So we knew that we wanted a larger show of force to show the country on a massive scale, what veterans are capable of as leaders that were assets, not liabilities," Scheinberg said.