For military veterans, The Mission Continues offers support in civilian life

She and her husband had just begun new lives as civilians after years in the U.S. Air Force. And while the opportunities in front of them were many, there were also feelings of uncertainty, displacement and even grief – particularly when it came to making friends and building a support network.

“During active duty, you meet and cultivate relationships with new people all the time by working closely alongside them. These people often become an extension of your family,” said Datzman, a former B-1 Lancer pilot and now an associate director at Collins Aerospace, a Raytheon Technologies business. “But awkwardly introducing myself to my neighbors so my daughter has an emergency contact for her day care doesn’t come close to that same level of relationship-building.”

Helping fellow military veterans keep that sense of community and camaraderie is part of the reason Datzman supports The Mission Continues. The organization, a partner in Raytheon Technologies’ Connect Up initiative, uses service projects in local communities to help military veterans transition to civilian lives, build their professional networks and continue working toward a common good.

Alicia Datzman

“I’ve been told before that I don’t look like a veteran, to which I respond with, ‘Well, what does a veteran look like?’"

Alicia Datzman | associate director |  Collins Aerospace

“I think there's something really powerful in reconnecting with people who have some of your shared military experience,” Datzman said. “These people know what it’s like to move every three to six years and have probably endured tough deployments being separated from loved ones. It’s a unique and special camaraderie among veterans. Inherently for many service members, you have this drive and energy and desire to serve and see something better beyond yourself. And for some, civilian employment following active duty may not scratch that itch, so to speak.”

Datzman, who works in strategic planning for integrated multi-domain solutions at Collins, gave a keynote at the graduation ceremony for The Mission Continues’ Women Veterans Leadership Program.

“They intentionally shine a light on female veterans, because they are an extremely underrepresented group,” she said. “I’ve been told before that I don’t look like a veteran, to which I respond with, ‘Well, what does a veteran look like?’”

It’s been a while now since Datzman made the transition to civilian life, but today she uses that experience regularly to help veterans tap into the leadership, decision-making and communication skills they developed in the military.

“There are so many different ways to serve the world, and I love supporting veterans as they navigate from one form of service to another,” she said.

Veterans and nonveterans are invited to work locally with The Mission Continues. Those interested can find local platoons here .