When I’ve spoken to groups or individual employers about retaining veterans and developing sponsorship and mentoring programs, I’ve repeatedly encountered two situations where I’ve struggled to offer a solution:

  • A business that has few veteran employees to be mentors to incoming transitioning service members
  • A former service member who would like to mentor other veterans in an organization, but whose employer does not have a formal mentoring program, so the veteran struggles to find ad hoc opportunities to mentor

So, I was very excited to come across a group who can provide a solution for both conditions.  The Business and Professional Women (BPW) Foundation is partnering with the US Chamber of Commerce to launch a very aggressive and unique program.  Called “Joining Forces for Women Veteran’s Mentorship Program” (JFWVMP), the group’s goal is to recruit 100,000 women (veteran or civilian) to mentor 100,000 women veterans and military spouses and caregivers by the end of 2012.  The program is included in the greater JoiningForces.gov initiative, led by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden.

The part I like best is that BPW and the Chamber are not trying to develop a completely new and separate program.  They’ve made the very smart decision to leverage existing mentoring groups (such as AcademyWomen and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors) to build a consortium of providers who can address the various mentoring needs of women veterans, spouses and care givers and who are already employing best practices in high-touch mentoring.

Many of us in the human resources field associate mentoring with career development.  However, women veterans, military spouses and care givers face additional issues that mentoring can address:

  • Packaging of military skill sets in preparation for securing civilian employment
  • Guidance on starting a business
  • Assistance with family support issues, such as homelessness, single parenting, or caring for a person with a disability
  • Picking up the pieces and developing a “new normal” after the death of a loved one
  • Decisions around pursuing additional post-graduate education, whether full or part time
  • Recognizing signs of stress, depression, or other potentially debilitating conditions and finding resources to overcome them

Even with a consortium, finding 100,000 mentors and 100,000 protégées is still a challenge, especially given the aggressive 18 month timeline.  So, if the following describes you, keep reading to find out how you and/or your company can get involved:

  • If your company already has a formal veteran mentoring program, and you’d like to expand to mentor veterans outside of your organization;
  • If you are an employee of a company that does not offer a formal mentoring program, and you’d like the opportunity to mentor women veterans/spouses/caregivers;
  • If you are a woman veteran/spouse/caregiver who does not currently have an opportunity to be mentored; or
  • If you are a corporate, government or non-profit organization that has an established formal mentoring program for either veterans (in general) or women (in general) or caregivers of the ill or injured (in general)…

…go to www.womenjoiningforces.org for details on how to participate.  Do it today.


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