Combat soldiers are special! Undergoing intense training, these soldiers are prepped to face tough situations and push their minds and bodies to new limits. They have real-time exposure to terrains unseen or unheard of by civilians. This life demands a warrior ethos and dedication to duty that may involve putting their lives on the line for a cause greater than themselves, a commitment to stay focused on the goal, patriotic fervor, absolute faith in the team, loyalty to comrades, and personal courage.
But once out of action their life changes drastically and poses challenges when they switch from the service to civilian life.
That’s when a mentor, who hand-holds the former veterans to get back into action, becomes critical. A nudge, a pat, a push and a few encouraging words are some of the many things that these mentors offer to restore theirward’s “pride”! It’s a two-way learning that brings to the fore outcomes that matter. Conversations between the mentor and mentee help in the transition of a combat world as the skills are made relevant for a “civil” world. “What to wear; what to do for lunch; who to report to; arriving early; expectations; making a good first impression; always being available whether in-person, while traveling, on the phone or via email.” are the kind of “simple” inputs that make the whole process engaging!Innovative and involved ways are what makes the whole engagement compelling, interesting, immersive, and influential beyond the regular charted paths of learning.
Else, why would the “givethem-20” campaign kick-off on Memorial Day weekend still be so relevant? Celebrities, athletes, business leaders, and Americans across the country have taken to social media to participate in the #GiveThem20 challenge, which aims to strengthen the bond between our society and veterans who are returning to the civilian workforce.
The ice-bucket challenge is no longer the “in-thing.”Instead, the push-up challenge is spreading like wild fire amidst high-profile CEOs and well-known figures from across the spectrum! The experience of sharing the participative learning is the seed of a revolution that is having an impact everywhere. Jon Stewart, the New York Mets, Rupert Murdoch, Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin, J&J CEO Alex Gorsky and a host of others have all chipped in enough to cause the echoing effect of an initiative that no longer is confined within the walls of a nation.
Lest we forget, “Soldiers bring a mix of skills to an employer – discipline, hard work, leadership, maturity, team work, calm under pressure, critical thinking, and a dozen more. Some of these skills came from pretty harsh classrooms in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. You have far, far more to offer employers than you know,” Brig Gen Michael Howard, 10th Mountain Division (LI) deputy commanding general for operations said at a summit held in the US last month.
Solid ideation and collaboration sessions between the mentor and the mentee have worked in ways that have brought career development, communication, networking, and many more aspects relevant to the new workforce!
Some testimonials below will testify to the 2-way impact on stakeholders:
“I am happy to say that shortly after our work together Matt has found himself a great job that in time may develop into his second career. We still talk every 2-4 weeks. The conversations have transitioned from how to get a job to how to interact with people in situations that are not dictated by “rank”. We discuss peer relationships and how to manage those interactions, developing and having relationships with upper management, how to communicate and illustrate his accomplishments in the tasks he has taken on in his new job and one of my favorite topics, our lives and how we are doing outside of the program. We have developed a friendship that I value very much. I have learned at least as much, if not more than Matt through this program and feel a great sense of pride for the little help and guidance I offered Matt along the way.”
“Andrew has been my mentee for roughly 6 months. The entire time, he’s shown initiative in maintaining a steady dialogue with me, both “give and take” – he asks for advice, but also shows how much learning he’s done in class and through his internships. It makes it easy when your mentee puts in the “elbow grease” of training himself or herself on a subject, so that you only need to provide guidance! In Andrew’s case, one reason why we were matched is because I have 8+ years of experience in Financial Services – exactly what Andrew wanted to break into, and exactly the type of person I was looking to mentor.”
“Like many who served in the military for twenty years or more, it can be a daunting task to prepare for your next career. In my own case, I wanted to venture into “Corporate America,” an environment completely foreign to me. As such, I didn’t have much of an idea of where or how to look for a position. Additionally, I didn’t know how to showcase my talents or experience to a civilian employer, that was, in all likelihood, very unfamiliar with the military. Insert Todd into the equation, and I was quickly able to start making sense of the corporate environment. Todd also brought many of his company’s resources to the table to critique my résumé and provide feedback on career opportunities. While Todd may think he didn’t “move mountains” for me, his assistance was invaluable.”
“Lee has influenced my experience transitioning from the military in ways I could only imagine. We discussed the different work sectors for civilians, and I chose to apply for contracting jobs based on what I wanted from my next career. I knew I needed assistance with my résumé and interviewing techniques. What I didn’t know is how much work I needed translating my experience to the vernacular of a civilian. In the military, we use a lot of acronyms, and even when we spell them out, they don’t always translate to terms used in the civilian sector. We worked intensively on translating my military skills and experiences into civilian terms. I was able to clarify my military skills and abilities in my résumé and during my interview thanks to Lee’s assistance.My first day of work is at the end of this month. Since I’ll start work in a week, we have transitioned to mentoring sessions focused on the do’s and don’ts of the workplace and the first day on the job, including: what to wear; what to do for lunch; who to report to; arriving early; expectations; and making a good first impression. Because of the outstanding support and mentorship I received from Lee, and the ACP program, I’m confident and excited to start my new job on Monday!”
Stewart’s video featured a group of veterans participating in The Daily Show’s Immersion Program cheering him on.
Created by American Corporate Partners (ACP), the #GiveThem20 campaign asks participants to share a video of them dedicating 20 push-ups, jumping-jacks, or any other exercise to American veterans. All public videos can be viewed at givethem20.org.