How You Can Give Back to Those Who Served: Mentor a Female Veteran

Kristy Wallace
Ellevate Network

 

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Ellevate and American Corporate Partners (ACP) have been working together to connect transitioning women veterans with women business leaders and entrepreneurs for yearlong one-on-one mentorships. Check out what U.S. Navy Veteran Mary L. said about her Ellevate Mentor Jill B.

“Jill is so interesting to talk to and has great insights to share from her own experiences and knowledge of the non-profit sector, politics, consulting and the corporate world, which are all of interest to me. In addition to our monthly phone calls, she has also offered to be a sounding board when I begin the negotiation phase of the job hunt. ACP did a great job matching us!”

Learn more about becoming a mentor or mentee here, and apply to the program using the code: ACPUSA.

 

Female Veterans in the Workplace

I have a great amount of respect for those who serve our country in the military. My father, grandfather, father-in-law, and a close friend all served proudly. Women in the military now comprise 14.2% of the active population, and that number is increasing as women such as Capt. Kristen Griest, and 1st Lt. Shaye Haver continue to push at the military’s glass ceiling.

While there has been much talk about women’s role in active duty, it is important to draw attention to the unique challenges faced by female veterans transitioning from military service to business-life.

Based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for female veterans (6.9 percent) is higher than that of their male counterparts (5.7 percent). “In the next 5 years over 1 million Soldiers are expected to transition out of the military with more than 100,000 being women” said Stephen Austin, Assistant Chief of Army Reserve. “Many of these women veterans feel isolated, unacknowledged and invisible in a society that cannot understand or comprehend what they have experienced” he said.

Women in the military often don’t use social media due to military restrictions and the lack of a professional profile can be a hindrance when transitioning to a corporate career. Women in military typically network only with others in the military due to frequent moves, deployments, and work schedules, yet studies show that the lack of access to informal networks -- especially those networks that can provide important information -- is one of the primary barriers to the advancement of women and 22% of Ellevate Members say that a large network to call on is the most important factor in a successful career transition.

But women in the military possess some valuable skills, as a result of their training, that are a huge advantage for employers including dependability, teamwork, and adaptability. So how can we help female veterans transitioning into the workforce in overcoming the barriers to employment while highlighting the strengths acquired though military service?

How You Can Help

At Ellevate Network, a global professional women’s network, we talk a lot about mentoring women in the workplace and more than 43% of Ellevate’s membership (comprised of business leaders and entrepreneurs) invest in other women through mentorship.

I recently attended the official launch of the American Corporate Partners’ (ACP) Women’s Veteran Mentoring Program held at the Pentagon. ACP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting veterans in their transition from the armed services to the civilian workforce. Chairman and Founder, Sidney Goodfriend said, "ACP was founded on a simple concept – to help our returning military find their second career – and in the case of reservists, to build a successful career interrupted by service to their country. Through our corporate mentors, ACP provides career counseling, mentoring and networking opportunities to those service members who were leaving the military after a job well done."

So it seems fitting that Ellevate Network has partnered with American Corporate Partners (ACP) to find top women entrepreneurs and business leaders interested in working one-on-one with a recently transitioned female veteran for a yearlong, career development mentorship.

The Women’s Veteran Mentoring Program is specifically designed to pair women veterans with America’s corporate leaders who provide professional guidance about the civilian workplace including networking, building civilian-friendly resumes, leadership skills, and work-life balance.

One former mentee, Nkechi "Payton" Iheme, shared her experience during the launch event. Payton spent 14 years in the military as an intelligence officer in Iraq and Germany, a Legislative Liaison for the United States Senate and U.S. Army, and a senior policy advisor in technology to the President/White House.  As such, she had a wide range of senior-level experience when transitioning out of the military. 

While Payton had personally worked on policy pertaining to transitioning military veterans she noted, "although I was aware of and used the transition assistance provided through the military, I came to personally realize the many obstacles that transitioning veterans face." Payton learned about the ACP program during her military transition classes and while she had a job offer prior to meeting her ACP mentor, she credits her mentor with helping to ease the transition into a successful career.

American Corporate PartnersEllevate Network100 Women in Hedge FundsGLG, and LeanIn.Org are committed to providing more than 500 mentorships for post 9/11 female veterans.