One question that we hear a lot is: “How can I help?” Of course, there are many ways you can support Women Veterans, from simply saying “thank you,” to volunteering time, to donating funds.
The fact is, effective support for Women Veterans takes a multi-layered approach.
Key components of this approach involve mentorship and corporate sponsorship. Closely linked and critical to post-military success, these two forms of support make a significant impact on Women Veterans’ futures.
Addressing Gaps in Career Growth for Women Veterans
There’s no disputing that Women Veterans are a value-add to any workplace. Just take a look at some of these statistics:
- Women Veterans demonstrate higher levels of commitment to their employers. They stay at their first civilian job 16% longer than nonveteran women. (Women Veterans Opportunity Report)
- Women Veterans are highly educated. 41% of them have a bachelor’s degree or higher. (Women Veterans Opportunity Report)
- The ratio of Women Veterans in STEM roles is 13% greater than the ratio of women nonveterans in STEM roles. (Women Veterans Opportunity Report)
- The rate at which Women Veterans launch businesses is almost double their representation amidst all businesses. (Small Business Administration)
Considering Women Veterans’ background, these statistics are likely no surprise. Rigorous skills training, high-intensity positions, and a commitment to a mission have steeped Women Veterans in a culture of loyalty, service, and excellence.
Still, Women Veterans encounter professional barriers when they enter the civilian workforce. By and large, finding a civilian job takes Women Veterans 3 months longer than male Veterans, and 37% of Women Veterans experience a loss of income. Plus, 31% of Women Veterans are less likely than nonveteran women to assume a leadership position within the first three years at a company.
When ambitious, skilled, committed women struggle to advance in the civilian workplace, it’s clear that we have a gap that we need to close.
So what is the answer?
Become a Mentor
Transitioning from the military to civilian life might seem like an easy process. But, the fact is, it’s much more complicated than hanging up a uniform one evening and putting on a business suit the next morning.
That’s why mentors are so important.
And, Women Veterans cite lack of mentorship as one of the top five barriers to achieving their business goals. Mentors are valuable in a Woman Veteran’s post-military journey because they provide guidance, compassionate support and connections to greater opportunities.
Plus, dedicated mentors provide many positive benefits, helping Women Veterans strengthen their skills and approach to:
- Career direction
- Confidence in the application process
- Leveraging military experience
- Negotiating higher pay
- Professional advancement
When mentors simply leverage their experience to advance another woman’s career, they impact significant areas of a Woman Veteran’s life, including financial security, safe housing, and a renewed sense of purpose.
Delivering the right support takes a partnership between individual, public, private, corporate, and nonprofit entities. As a recent RAND report showed, services and support for Women Veterans need to be improved and expanded. The report concluded:
“A one-size-fits-all approach to military-to-civilian transition support often fails to meet women’s needs.”
That means that Women Veterans need innovative, culturally conscious, targeted support.
Corporate entities can answer this call by partnering with nonprofits that deliver such innovative services specifically for Women Veterans. When you become a corporate sponsor, you empower a nonprofit to impact the Women Veterans community in targeted, valuable ways.
Because of corporate sponsorship, nonprofits like WVIF are better equipped to:
- Deliver quality programs that meet Women Veterans’ needs
- Expand reach to serve more Women Veterans
- Provide access to critical resources
- Equip Women Veterans with tools necessary for post-military success
- Provide a community where Women Veterans feel seen, heard, and empowered
- Prevent homelessness
- Increase access to health care, mental health support, or suicide prevention programs
Yes, your sponsorship, which comes with added promotional benefits, can change the lives of Women Veterans in real, meaningful ways.
Bottom Line: Connect with nonprofits that have a demonstrated history of service to Women Veterans. Ask about levels of sponsorship opportunities. Select a strategy that aligns with your corporate values and enables you to make a definite impact on Women Veterans’ lives.
Become an Ally for Women Veterans
When you devote time, skills, or funds to support Women Veterans, you become their trusted ally. You show them that you believe in them, that you’re willing to stand up for them, and that you honor them.
Over the next 10 years, estimates show that the Women Veterans’ population will grow by another 200,000 women — they are the fastest-growing sub-population of the entire Veteran community.
How will you help?