More than 100 veterans from across the country took an oath to act as civic leaders during a pregame ceremony at Sunday's Padres game.
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The oath was part of a program called The Mission Continues, which kicked off on Saturday with a cleanup of the area near the San Diego River.
On Saturday, 114 veterans and 40 Wells Fargo employees spent the day cleaning a two-mile stretch of the area.
Sgt. Maj. Brent Jurgersen was among those who participated in the cleanup.
After spending 22 years in the Army, he reached the highest enlisted rank. At age 49, he is now trying to find a new sense of normal.
"On a daily basis, [I] struggle with who I am and what I can do," said Jurgersen. "I feel a lot of things have happened to me in my life for a reason
Don't know why, but I know I need to do something with it."
He believes The Mission Continues fellowship is just that.
Participants in The Mission Continues are veterans from across the country and all military branches.
After the kickoff weekend, they will go back into their communities and dedicate 20 hours a week to the charity of their choice. They will earn a stipend of $7,000 for six months of service.
Marine Capt. Miles Bower was cleaning up alongside Jurgersen. Bower was deployed to Iraq three times.
"I was an infantry officer, so I was a platoon commander and I was in charge of about 40 guys," Bower said.
Bower said he struggled with the transition from saving lives in Iraq to sitting in a cubicle in San Diego. He said he did not have trouble finding a job like many vets but had a hard time caring about it.
"I really had trouble finding purpose again," Bower added. "There's a lot of purpose in the job as a Marine and I just had trouble finding that again."
He is hopeful the fellowship will change that.
"It kind of helps bridge that gap between those of us who serve and the rest of our society," said Bower.
Bower lost several good friends while deployed overseas. One of them was named Travis Manion, who was killed by a sniper.
For Bower, choosing a charity was simple. He plans to work with the Travis Manion Foundation in San Diego.
Bower said the program has given him another reason to be proud.
"This gives us an opportunity to carry on that legacy of our friends and the people we served with that can't serve anymore," Bower said.
Jurgersen seemed too humble to recognize his own legacy. In 2004, he came under enemy fire.
"It hit my face, shredded pretty much all of this and broke out seven teeth and bone and shredded my tongue and lodged in the back of my throat," he said.
He added, "I wanted to complete the mission and then bring my guys back home that I made a promise I would bring home
So, I went back to Iraq."
The next year, he was hit again and it was worse than before. He suffered fractures, a traumatic brain injury and lost his left leg. He said he would have given more.
"I'll always feel responsible for the men that I've lost and the man that I lost that day," he said.
He lost his gunner after being hit by two rocket-propelled grenades.
Jurgersen tried to go back into battle but was found unfit by the medical board and forced to stop serving the way he wanted.
But after years of feeling helpless, he will now begin mentoring other wounded warriors in Washington D.C.
"Help them through their rehab and also help me at the same time," he said. "Try and figure out where I'm at in life and continue serving."
The Mission Continues is currently accepting applications for the next round of fellows.
You can find more information about the program at http://www.missioncontinues.org/
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