Veterans make up roughly 4 percent of the college student population, and in 2013-14 alone, over one million veterans received education benefits through the U.S. Department of Veterans. But the road from military to college to professional can be a rough one, with veterans figuring out how to transfer the skills they learned on active duty to the world of higher education and then to the fields of business, finance, healthcare, and more. The Travis Manion Foundation, based in Doylestown and San Diego, recognizes the unique challenges that veterans face in transitioning from military to civilian life and provides resources that veterans, and especially student veterans, should look to take advantage of.
The Travis Manion Foundation was started to honor the memory of 1st Lt. Travis Manion, United States Marine Corps, who was fatally wounded while helping and drawing fire away from his wounded comrades in Iraq in April 2007. The organization’s mission is to assist our nation’s veterans and families of fallen heroes, through several multifaceted and far-reaching programs.
One such program that would be of direct interest to student veterans in Greater Philadelphia is their Mentor and Advocacy Program for Veterans (MAP-V). Designed specifically for post-9/11 veterans to assist in their transition from military to civilian life, this program is a ten-month, two phase program comprised of seminars, mentorship, and a fully-funded internship program that helps veterans set out onto a fulfilling career path. Hugo Lentze, Program Manager of the Mentor and Advocacy Program for Veterans in Doylestown, describes the story of one veteran’s path from military to law enforcement.
“We have a veteran who is interning in a local law enforcement agency. He came into our program with an ineffective resume and was not really able to articulate his experience and why he wanted to go into law enforcement. We helped with his resume, and I remember him saying ‘Wow, I did some cool stuff!’ We also helped him with interviewing, putting him through four iterations of practice interviews, and we were able to find him an English grammar tutor for the sheriff’s exam. He boosted his score on the exam more than 20 points to 97%, and did very well on his interview. He is now in the final stages of being accepted for a position,” explains Lentze.
The internship and career path of each veteran is unique, but the MAP-V program benefits are the same for everyone who is accepted. Participants meet twice a month for personal and professional discussion seminars, and receive support in the form of resume and cover letter editing, mock interviews, and personalized career support as needed (as seen in the example of the English tutoring for the sheriff’s exam). During the second half of the program, participants complete a 16-20 hour/week internship. Internships have ranged from working at a real estate agency to teaching at environmental education centers, all based on the veteran’s career interests. At the end of the program, the veterans are career-ready, having both professional experience and the ability to articulate their unique skills.
Interested in participating in the MAP-V program? You can fill out an application here. Applicants must have served a minimum of 24 months (unless serious injury prevented further service) with an honorable discharge after September 11, 2001, and must no longer be on active duty or serving with the National Guard.
But, as Lentze says, “student veterans need to understand that the Travis Manion Foundation is more than just the Mentor and Advocacy Program for Veterans.” Other programs include the 9/11 Heroes Run 5K Race Series, Survivor Services, and the Character Does Matter Program. The Character Does Matter Program connects the heroes of today — veterans, active duty personnel and families of the fallen — with the leaders of tomorrow. The purpose of the CDM program is to inspire young adults to live with character, develop their values-based leadership skills, and activate them to serve their communities in honor of our nation’s fallen heroes.
“Everything we do in the Foundation embodies the ‘If Not Me, Then Who…’ mentality” says Lentze, referring to the crux of Travis Manion’s beliefs about the notion of service. Service is at the core of what the Travis Manion Foundation stands for, and in doing their work, they assist both the community of veterans and the community of civilians at large. So whether they’ve just ended their active service or they are a couple of years into college, student veterans can turn to the Travis Manion Foundation to make their career path smoother and make a real difference in their community.
For more information on the National Council for Aging Care’s guide on Military Veteran Benefit Options, click here.