STAPr: Empowering Service Members to be Influential Role Models and Mentors Translating their Experience into what Matters Most
Michael Heavens, CEO & Founder | STUPr
Military work, possibly one of the nation’s most dangerous and oldest forms of public service, brings out many exemplary qualities in those who have chosen to pursue it.
Being an army veteran myself, I know first-hand that service members have the skills and abilities that it takes to be influential role models and mentors. Their experience has graced them with unique capabilities and aspects that people who haven’t served don’t have (or at least don’t have them in the same way). I believe that all it takes is some empowerment and being given a chance.
Qualities that military service members possess
There’s no hand-holding in the military, so tasks that are required take ambition in order to get done. Everyone who’s ever been in the military has been forced to figure something out all by themselves to be accomplished. In the real world, this translates into ambition and an entrepreneurial spirit.
A lot of people know that they need this ambition in order to succeed in the incredibly competitive modern work climate but can’t quite obtain it. Courses, like gurus, and YouTube videos aren’t any match for a role model or mentor that’s actually got this hard-earned quality.
Gone are the days where people joining the military were conscripted. As of 2021, all 2,404,928 members of the U.S. military are voluntary, and that means that anyone who joins knows not only what they have to do but also that they can do it.
Self-confidence is a key trait of any successful person. It’s also one of the most powerful tools to get people to listen to them and invaluable to any employer. Veterans have this elusive trait, and what’s more, they almost always have the grace to not let it turn to pride. This is because if pride ever comes around, it doesn’t really have a place in the military, so it’s usually snuffed out pretty quick!
Drive and tenacity
The military might teach hard work, but far beyond that, it demands it. If someone serving doesn’t show a strong work ethic, then they’ve got to shape up or get out. Drive and tenacity come easily to veterans. They show up on time, always strive to do their best, and know that they take out only what they put in.
There is no substitute for drive and tenacity, and these traits are what get people up and out of their beds and keep them on their feet!
Many mentors and role models struggle with continuously reaching out to their protégés, but veterans have these traits that many don’t. They uniquely allow veterans to keep up with what can sometimes be a difficult process and mean that the quality of mentorship won’t suffer.
Serving in the military demands being a lifelong learner (and a fast one at that). Tasks are constantly thrown at military personnel, and they have to learn. That’s the bottom line.
Thinking quickly and always adapting to the situation means that veterans have a built-in psychological openness. This can translate to being able to see things from different perspectives, being empathetic, being creative and thinking outside the box, and having a never-ending commitment to learning. All of these are priceless traits that make for a mentor that understands and listens eagerly.
Problems that service members face
Veterans returning back to society suffer problems when re-assimilating. Some of the most impactful problems are health-related. Many who served in Iraq and Afghanistan sustained TBIs (traumatic brain injuries), and around 1 in 5 have a mild TBI commonly called a concussion. Many have lost limbs, have spinal-cord injuries, hearing loss, and other disabilities.
Additionally, numerous women and men have suffered some degree of sexual trauma from harassment or assaults while serving. This trauma can have lasting effects on veterans, both mental and physical.
Other issues that arise include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alcohol use that goes to damaging levels, and even suicidal ideation. Many veterans are sadly suffering from more than one of these conditions.
Veterans sadly also face barriers to good care, such as difficulties in accessing medical facilities because they don’t have transport or are in an inconvenient location, worries about taking time off work and possibly hurting their careers, and even fear of discrimination.
Even though the conversations around getting help (especially for mental health issues) are opening up, many veterans still feel uncomfortable seeking help, even more so after they have had to be brave, tough, and strong in their time in the military.
They can also struggle with adapting to different cultures, norms, and values than they got used to in the military, finding a new career path, and other areas of life like continuing their education or even moving house.
How STUPr empowers military service members
Here at STUPr, we connect professionals, students, institutions, mentors, and protégés worldwide to share information, resources, and opportunities. We take pride in creating mutually beneficial relationships by connecting people who can help each other. By bridging the gap between older and younger users, we leverage mentorship.
This means that we’re uniquely positioned to empower ex-military service members to gently transition back into civilian life.
Veterans have a safe space to be authentically themselves and navigate not only a change of occupation but impart their knowledge onto a protégé that can learn a tremendous amount from them. Having this mutually beneficial relationship can inject purpose into many veterans’ lives and help alleviate (or at least detract from) a lot of pain and suffering that comes from mental and physical ailments.
STUPr uses an algorithm to matchmake potential mentors with mentees or proteges, and because we’re an online networking portal, veterans don’t need to ever leave their house. We redefine and enhance the value of connecting and networking in the social networking space.
These brave men and women have gone through a lot for our country, and not enough is being done to thank them. At STUPr, we want to do everything that we can to honor their time serving as well as their sacrifices and translate their experience into what matters most.