One mom of two has made her way through multiple TDYs, deployments, and PCS moves throughout her 16 years as a military spouse by relying on the much-needed help of mentors.
Today, Sunny Babauta Lee serves as a transitions program management specialist at the USO and is working on a new mentorship program in partnership with Veterati, a mentorship platform for the military community.
“Veterati was created by a transitioning Marine who realized there wasn’t a mentorship platform available to him,” Lee said. “It is helpful if you are in a new place seeking employment or even if you are in a new place just seeking a local connection.”
Through this program introduced earlier this month, the USO empowers service members and their spouses with career mentorship opportunities. The 8,500 Veterati mentors are available to help active-duty and transitioning military members and their spouses navigate their professional goals. The mission is simple — to prepare their career paths for the civilian world.
In addition to raising a child with special needs, Lee understands the struggle of maintaining a professional identity as a military spouse. “This past PCS was my hardest,” Lee admitted. “We were stationed in Guam, and my daughter was diagnosed with meningitis. To go from being a professional to a parent having a child with special needs was very hard. I wasn’t thinking about work anymore. I thought I couldn’t have a profession and be a military wife and have a child with special needs. Just having a connection telling me everything was going to be OK … I needed that.”
Active-duty and transitioning service members can sign up on the USO’s website to get in touch with a USO transition specialist who will connect them with a mentor to narrow down their career path. Military spouses can also sign up for a mentor to help grow their professional network. “As military spouses, we’re constantly moving, and our spouse’s mission is first,” Lee said. “Military spouses are always in transition, having to pick up and start over again. If you go on PCS to another location, you can start by finding a mentor, who will help make the transition easier.”
To sign up for the free program, you need a LinkedIn account to access the platform (a complimentary LinkedIn training course is also available for those unfamiliar with the social networking service). Then, mentees fill out a profile and complete a short survey highlighting their interests, which will help identify a career path. Once completed, the mentee is provided a list of (volunteer) mentors based on the answers provided in the survey. Participants have the option to choose which mentor’s assistance they would prefer. After signing up, there is also an option to perform a keyword search within the program. Lee, for example, could enter “Guam” and find a mentor who was stationed there.
Many of the 8,500 mentors available have served in the military and understand the needs of active-duty, transitioning service members, or military spouses.
For more information, visit https://www.uso.org/mentorship.Read comments