Logan Brooks is a lifelong civilian, but he always wanted to fly for the U.S. Air Force.
He even took the Air Force Officer Qualifying Test – and aced it. But the timing was off. He and his wife were starting a family, so rather than joining the service, he did the next best thing: He worked on the software that V-22 Osprey pilots depend on to meet their missions and make it home.
“I spent a lot of my early career at Edwards Air Force Base,” in California, said Brooks, now the software quality director at Raytheon Intelligence & Space, a Raytheon Technologies business. “I like going and talking to the pilots because I live vicariously through them.”
That admiration is part of the reason he volunteers with The Mission Continues, a nonprofit where military veterans and civilians work side-by-side on public service projects. For the veterans, it’s a chance to bond with fellow former service members, continue working toward a common good and grow their professional networks.
“It’s a genius idea – tapping into that dynamic to empower veterans with a new mission and a chance to build bonds,” Brooks said.
And, as he’ll tell you, it’s also a solid workout. At least it was when he and his wife volunteered for what they thought was a trail cleanup at Palmer Park in Colorado Springs.
“We thought we were going to be picking up litter,” he said. “When we got there, it was a whole set of tools – picks, axes, rakes, crowbars. And we’re like, ‘OK, we’re not picking up litter today.’”
Instead, they helped re-grade a section of trail, working in small teams that divided the project into specific tasks. While they worked, Brooks said, the veterans got to talking.
“They’ve never met before in some instances, but you hear them say ‘I served here’ or ‘we helped with that.’ That’s a large piece of it, getting to meet other veterans,” Brooks said.
He even met a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Space Force and described working in the defense industry, developing technology that helps active-duty military do their jobs. That’s another benefit of the program, Brooks said – to show veterans that, even after the service, there are all kinds of missions left to accomplish.