Duty Completed, Soldier Serves By Helping Injured Vets

"Mission Continues" helps wounded soldiers continue service to country

By Kim Vatis and BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Jan 20, 2010  |  Updated 1:38 PM CDT
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Service to Country Can Continue After Injury

Teaming up with "Mission Continues," Sgt. Dan Casara continues to volunteer to help other injured war veterans who, like him, are eager to continue serving.
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For many veterans, the desire to serve their country doesn't end when they come home. For the injured, they could feel they left a job undone.

That's where "Mission Continues" comes in.

"The Mission Continues is a challenge, not a charity," said veterans outreach coordinator Andy Traver, who heads up the new Illinois chapter of the group.

Mission Continues was founded in 2007 by an Iraqi vet who was injured but still wanted to serve his country.

Traver said wounded soldiers need to feel accepted and know that they still have "intrinsic value" and that "we still need them to serve."

A Chicago chapter of the group held its first awareness campaign at a Dr. Martin Luther King event at Rush University Medical Center, where veterans' issues were the main them.

Sgt. Dan Casara is one of those veterans who wears a Purple Heart and is said to heave a heart of gold.

The Chicagoan almost lost his legs in Iraq when a mine blew in 2005, flipping the tank that carried him and five other soldiers. Two of the troops were killed. Casara's legs were crushed.

Two dozen surgeries later, Casara is finally walking again and continues to serve his country, albeit in a completely different way.

"I saw where my life was going. I said I needed to get up and move on!" said Casara. "Now that I'm in this position, let me continue on and try and bring up that next veteran."

Teaming up with "Mission Continues," Casara continues to volunteer to help other injured war veterans who, like him, are eager to continue serving.

Since recovering from his injuries, Casara made it up the Sears/Willis Tower to raise money for the Rehab Institute of Chicago. He's training the Para-Olympics and has hand-cycled in the Chicago Marathon.

"If I hadn't done that, I would be at home."

Traver says in the war on terror alone, there are 35,000 disabled veterans and 300,000 with posttraumatic stress disorder.

For more information about Mission Continues, visit MissionContinues.org or send an e-mail to Andy Traver.

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