BPW Foundation's Women Misbehavin' Blog

Well behaved women never make history

Mentoring Program for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Launched

Posted by YWM on February 13, 2012

BPW Foundation Builds on History of Women Helping Women

 During January, National Mentoring Month, Business and Professional Women’s (BPW) Foundation deployed Joining Forces for Women Veterans and Military Spouses (JFWVMS) Mentoring Plus®. This ground-breaking program connects women veterans and military spouses with working women mentors and subject matter experts (SMEs).  Participants receive career development support and guidance that will enable them to find and keep meaningful employment.

“BPW Foundation’s long history of women helping women allows us to leverage the experience, expertise and resources of women in the workplace, to benefit those who have made so many personal and family sacrifices to protect our freedom: women veterans and military wives,” said BPW Foundation CEO, Deborah L. Frett.

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus enables mentors and mentees to work together to design and develop individualized and quantifiable goals and benchmarks for mentee employment plans.  Online resources and subject matter experts will assist mentees in areas that affect workplace attainment, adjustment, retention and/or supplier chain participation for small businesses.  This deployment of the program will focus on an initial group of 1,000 mentees, and then broaden to benefit a larger group of 10,000 women veterans and military spouses. Ultimately, additional public and private workforce partners will be engaged to achieve a target of 100,000 mentoring relationships. More than 150,000 women are projected to leave the military over the next five years joining the more than 1.8 million existing women veterans.

“We are determined and honored to help our women veterans meet their post-military service employment goals by applying their exceptional skills and military achievements to their future success in the civilian work world.” said Dr. Lynda Davis, Chair of the Joining Forces Mentoring Plus Advisory Council. “The program will also help overcome the challenges of base living and frequent moves that military wives often face by connecting them to training and employment opportunities that match their abilities, interests and education level.”

Joining Forces Mentoring Plus builds upon the research and experience of proven mentoring programs that have measurably impacted many individuals’ lives. The BPW Foundation initiative is connecting women veterans of all eras and military wives with volunteer working women mentors across the U.S., whose personal and professional training has prepared them to provide insights, advice and encouragement to help women veterans and military wives. Working in tandem, volunteer mentors will help steer their mentees on individualized courses of action to succeed in the civilian workplace.  While the national program has just been launched, a USO grant funded a successful six-month pilot effort for women veterans in Virginia during the second half of 2011.

“This program really does work. I don’t know where I would be without the help of my dedicated BPW mentor,” said Carolyn Allen, a veteran who retired from the Army after 20 years of service. I am now looking forward to passing the torch and stepping up as a mentor for other women veterans.”

As the first organization to conduct research about working women, BPW Foundation attributes much of its success to programs built upon evidenced-based research.  Joining Forces Mentoring Plus is the result of a commitment BPW Foundation made in 2005 to better understand the employment transition of women veterans.  Research identified unique challenges that hinder the successful re-entry of women veterans upon their return home, including limited access to benefits and services they have earned and deserve. BPW Foundation’s research highlighted translation and portability of skills as major obstacles and underscored an overwhelming gap in career and employment support that this growing population of military women need upon their return to civilian life.  Mentoring Plus was developed following the October, 2010 Joining Forces for Women Veterans Summit, which brought together government, nonprofit and business leaders, and women veterans to examine and seek solutions for the challenges facing our women veterans. The group recognized a broad-based need for informed, committed mentors to position and assist women veterans as they search for new employment, hone their career goals and package their military skills and experience to gain access to meaningful civilian jobs.  First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden highlighted this “mentorship gap” when they applauded BPW Foundation’s mentoring initiative as part of the White House’s national Joining Forces effort.

“Mentoring is a two way street,” Frett said.  “The benefits to mentees are easy to see, but recent research shows that mentors reap rewards, as well. They not only find great personal reward in helping others succeed, they also improve their leadership skills, expand their own networks and keep more current with industry trends.”

To join Mentoring Plus as a mentee, mentor or subject matter expert, please visit www.bpwfoundation.org.

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One Response to “Mentoring Program for Women Veterans and Military Spouses Launched”

  1. CW said

    Greetings! with all due respect for what BPW is doing, perhaps this could be described as for women Veterans and female spouses of male Veterans?
    I mention it because all too often females visiting VHA sites are assumed to be the female spouse of a male Veteran rather than the Veteran herself.
    Hoping to not perpetuate the error in our communities. 🙂

    Many thx and please keep up this great program!

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