Veteran Mentor Network:
Everything You Need to Know

What Veteran Mentoring?

The mentor supports veterans to transition from the military lifestyle to the civilian lifestyle. Veterans mentoring programs not only benefit the veterans but also the mentors, as they both share their vast experience. They form a connection between mentor and mentee and guide veterans in the professional growth in an organization. Mentor’s extensive experience and network provide a pathway for the veterans to find a better job and adjust themselves in civilians.

A mentor needs to consider that a veteran’s experience and skills are different from a civilian mentee.

They are indoctrinated to be independent and self-reliant. Being the problem solver without seeking any assistance from the leaders is their quality. This is not the case in civilian workplaces. You need approvals from your leaders most of the time. Another contradiction is that they cannot operate without their teammates. They need a partner or 3- 4 more people along them to perform a task.

These peculiarities make them outstanding candidates for any career opportunity. On the contrary, they put them in difficult situations to deal with civilian culture and cause hardship.

A veteran mentoring program can direct them to achieve great success in their career goal and resonate their life with favorable results.

Benefits of Veteran Mentoring

Transitioning from one phase to another is a psychological and mental thought process. A mentoring program for veterans can help in several ways to monetize capabilities, revive civilian culture, and transform veterans’ mindset into well structured and valuable professionals.

Here are the key elements that veterans benefit from with a mentor’s support.

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Career Guidance

When a veteran is seeking a mentor their utmost target is to find a better job for a living. Deciding the right career path is quite challenging for a veteran but with a mentor’s collaborative experience they can find their path. What they have done in their military job might not be correlative to civilian life. The mentor helps them enlist their career goals and provide connections and road maps to achieve their targets. Military members have extensive experience that can leverage any industry. Veterans’ mentoring helps veterans to identify their unique strengths to move forward.

Emotional Support

The challenging psychological phase for a veteran is to start putting themselves and their well-being in front of them too. Servicemembers in all stages are called on to make sacrifices. They have to put aside themselves, and their loved ones at work, which is not the scenario in civilian life.

A mentor can counsel and encourage his mentee to understand the beliefs on sacrificing and make them comprehend that giving off themselves is worthwhile in military services. Thinking with a different perspective is important in further life.

A valuable connection

The returning veterans from their services usually struggle to connect with family and friends and end up isolating themselves. When their partners or family members are unable to grasp and understand their expectations along with the emotional connection they are looking for then seeking a mentor’s advice not only helps professionally but can also emotionally benefit the mentee. While interacting and building a mentor-mentee relationship, trust helps them overcome emotional breakdown and isolation. Mentors can also help them meet their minds to help them in overcoming the problem they are facing.

Benefits of the mentor

Mentoring veterans is not only beneficial for a veteran but also to the mentor as both share their diverse experience and understanding. It is a process of transferring knowledge by understanding the cultural sensitivity and creating an environment to empower the contribution at the workplace. 

Mentors gain recognition from their peers for contributing their time and expertise in the matter.

Mentors gain satisfaction by helping others and bridging a successful path for their mentees.

They improve and polish their interpersonal skills while practicing the same for their mentee.

Another benefit of mentoring the veterans is that the mentor feels energized when they support someone.

Veteran mentoring program

Every veteran is different from one another, because of their individuality and personality. One type of mentoring cannot be suitable for everyone. As you cannot find one size fit for all, you can’t treat every veteran in the same way. Perhaps, every veteran needs a unique style of mentoring for themselves.

Alison Napolitano suggests that there are different types of veteran mentor programs depending on the needs of the veteran. They can decide what kind of program they are comfortable enrolling in and accessing guidance.

Below is the list of programs suggested by Alison Napolitano:

Individual Mentoring Program

Consciously, most of the veterans prefer individual or one-on-one sessions for guidance. As it allows both mentor and the mentee to interact with each other, perceive a handful and comprehensive experience. Precisely, this interaction reveals incredible results in career guidance and personal counseling.

Furthermore, it makes both parties accountable to each other to respect their individuality and expertise by all means. Veteran and mentor should set long-term and short-term goals for their further meetings to continue working on their mentorship relation. This relationship can aid the veteran for his/her further professional development.

Group Mentoring program

Another efficient and effective way of mentorship is group mentoring. When high profile mentors are unable to manage a large number of applications for mentoring, they preferably recommend group mentoring which benefits a group of veterans together. Even this type of collaborative mentoring provides an opportunity for the mentees to meet and support their like-minded people in goal setting and professional development.

E-Mentoring Program

If mentors and mentees are unable to meet each other while traveling or moving to another town then E-mentoring is another efficient way of communicating. Mentors and mentees can meet online on live video calls, they can communicate through emails and text messages to discuss their issues and solve problems.

Both mentor and mentees must accommodate their online meetings and arrange virtual training to have successful online sessions and benefit as much as possible.

Veteran Mentoring Veteran Program

Not all veterans need a highly professional mentor; some veterans rather feel more comfortable working with their like-minded peers. Peer mentoring or veteran mentoring veterans can be effective in many ways. Veterans share their feelings, thoughts, and ideologies with their peers and set their professional goals. Moreover, this strategy allows veterans to be open and honest about each other and discuss their struggles and achievement and work collaboratively in their further career growth.

Building  a veteran mentoring program

Mr. Craige Robbins has developed a Veteran mentor program in Prositions in which he has defined these steps of building a successful veteran mentoring program. According to Mr. Robbins, this program can leverage not only employee’s professional growth but also can increase organizational turnover. It is essential to a comprehensive program to improve veteran’s work performance in an organization and avoid withdrawals from them.

These 4 steps can boost veterans’ confidence in the workplace and strengthen business turnover.

1.     Shape the culture

There is no second thought that veterans are strong candidates for any workplace because of their rigorous training and legitimate work habits. However, often returning from military services veterans struggle to adjust to a civilian work environment. Many veterans complain about the less supportive environment and stereotypical attitude at the workplace. One-third of veterans feel isolated and disconnected from their peers.

Jeff Morin’s chief of staff at Sallyport Global and a veteran of the U.S. The Marine Corps said that I can see the challenges veterans face when they join the civilian workforce. The military mindset is more structured and visionary. Veterans have clear missions and targets to achieve and reach to the next level. But in a business work culture that’s not the case, there is no hierarchy or any path to promotion,  not all the employees get the promotion.

The veteran would be more comfortable if business organizers keep more structured and organized work ethics and values. They would thrive to achieve their goals if an organization provides them clear pathways and goals.

2.     Establish Support

Identifying and eliminating barriers can increase a feasible atmosphere for veterans to work more effectively. However, employers and coworkers may need to know what exactly are the barriers for the veterans?

Veterans work in a respectful and encouraging environment. Create an atmosphere that is welcoming and appreciating to them so they can feel productive and recognized. Involve them in program designing and other creative projects. Ask them for giving opinions and suggestions as they are trained to be a solution to any problem.

3.     Training and development

It is crucial to educate the veteran and non-veteran to understand civilian and military work culture. As both are coming from different backgrounds and have distinguished work ethics. Veterans bring some bad habits from their military services which cause trouble for them and others to feel disconnected from each other. Providing training on work ethics, dos, and don’ts can help them transition from one phase to another. Even educating non-veteran about military culture can build bridges to understand veterans and form a strong peer connection.

4.     Community collaboration

Helping veterans to adjust to civilian life can be done with collaboration smoothly. Mentors, coworkers, and senior veterans can support veterans together to transition and cultivate themselves in their career growth. Furthermore, building strong relationships and providing them available resources would make their life easy to adapt to the working culture.

Implementing the mentoring program

Working with a civilian mentee would be different from knowing a veteran mentee as the veterans carry different skill sets and experiences. It would be a comprehensive experience working with a military veteran if they build a meaningful relationship.

Veteran Mentor programs should be well-structured and accessible for the veterans so they can get full advantage from it.

Below are some program implementation tips for the mentors.

Create a marketing strategy

Develop a marketing program to let the veteran know about the program. Encourage mentoring participation to find a suitable match for veterans depending on their interest, affinity, and like-minded goals.  Hire experienced veteran mentoring veteran for the more influential network. Moreover, use digital tools to track applications and match the profile with individual mentors and mentees. These strategies would benefit the fruitful mentorship and give ultimate results on employee professional growth.

Train program participants

While setting up the training program, You should be occupied with resources, guides, and gadgets for mentors and mentees. Veterans like following precise instructions and guidance related to their job roles, expectations, and commitments. Provide the ultimate guide book to the mentors to understand the expectations in relation to train the veterans.

Support mentoring relationship

The core of successful mentoring is the strong relationship between mentor and mentee. Support and appreciate their relationship when mentor and mentee listen to each other, recognize time and efforts that have been placed to gain the outcomes will definitely bring up dynamic results.

To cultivate the culture of mentor-mentee relationships by organizing developmental activities such as seminars, networking events, and guest speakers to discuss and encourage performance.

Mentors and mentees may set SMART goals to meet the targets. However, these goals must be evaluated by the organization to bring closure to mentorship. When these goals are met and show success, the mentoring network should celebrate and recognize their efforts to value the program and participants.

Keys to successful veteran mentoring

If you want to get the dynamic outcomes from the mentoring program, you may consider following these key elements for a successful mentoring relationship.

Develop trust

To appreciate the time and acknowledge your mentor’s effort, both mentor and mentee should develop trust. To perceive each other’s individuality, sensitivity, and background. To build any successful relationship trust is the backbone to it. If you don’t trust the person you cannot listen and cooperate with that person.

Mentors must spend one session to know the mentee’s background, education, perspective, and ideologies before pursuing further sessions.

Set goals

After building connective trust between mentor and mentee, they should set long-term and short-term goals for the veteran’s career and further professional and personal development.

Define roles and responsibilities

Mentors and mentees should be clear about their roles and responsibilities. A Mentor’s job is to unleash the capabilities and qualities in his/her mentee. Where mentee has to listen and respond to their mentor. Collaborative working from both parties can bring up a greater impact on the company.

Evaluate the program

Business leaders must evaluate the program to check participants’ performance and provide further training if needed. 

By building a strong network of veterans and mentors, business leaders can achieve potential results and fluctuate their business growth. Good mentorship and proactive relationships with veterans have incredible possibilities to enrich the career growth of veterans. So veterans and mentors should bring all the possible opportunities together to get the designated results.

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