MENTORING & VFW SURVIVAL
What is mentoring? Mentoring refers to a developmental relationship between a more experienced mentor and a less experienced partner referred to as a mentee or protégé. Although the roots of the practice of mentoring are lost in antiquity, the word "mentor” meant "inspired”. The concept is simply one person (usually older and more experienced), spending time with another person (usually younger and less experienced), for the purpose of sharing wisdom, experience and understanding in order to improve that person’s chances for success. Often, mentoring is done within the context of a trade, a philosophy or a religion.
Why does VFW need mentors? The general public knows VFW as a group of veterans who share the experience of overseas service; however, as members, we recognize the organization as much more. To us, VFW is a fraternity brought together by a common experience. We are committed to certain values, including concern for fellow veterans, honoring and serving those in uniform and their families, those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, patriotism and service to our communities and nation. Another common trait we share is our desire to see this organization continue and perpetuate our values to future generations.
This is where mentoring becomes a vital factor. To ensure the VFW and its values continue for another century and beyond, we must do all we can to train those individuals who will lead this organization, remember its history and accomplishments, and carry on the legacy of service and patriotism for which we are known. In short, we need leaders who value the future of the VFW enough to invest their time in training future leaders from young veterans. We NEED VFW mentors.
What does being a VFW Mentor entail? Since most of us learned to fire a weapon, operate equipment, make a bed, clean a latrine, etc. by the numbers; that’s how we will present mentoring.
1)Find a VFW member who is willing. This can be a younger veteran or just someone who has not been active. They should understand VFW values, have an interest in VFW culture and be willing to serve as a leader.
2)Ask the member to have a cup of coffee and learn more about VFW. Try to set aside one morning, one afternoon or one evening a week to meet and talk. It is important to the success of the effort to identify a regular time and place and stick to it. True leadership involves commitment and discipline.
3)Go through the curriculum included in this brochure. You need not be a great expert on VFW history or policies. Just discuss each element from your own perspective, using your own experiences.
4)Encourage your mentee by introducing him or her to other leaders and active members. Encourage these other members to share their VFW experience.
5)Encourage your mentee to begin his or her VFW career by initially volunteering at a Post event. As they become more involved and get to know other members, encourage them to consider accepting an assistant chairmanship and recruiting their fellow veterans.
6)Encourage and support your mentee as a candidate for a Post office. Guide the campaign and encourage others to support them.
What are the goals of mentoring? A successful mentor will encourage other veterans to become a committed, active VFW member. Ultimately, this individual should continue to seek more responsibility and a position of leadership to carry on the traditions, values and service that has made the VFW the great organization it is.
This curriculum is a suggestion of elements that should be covered during the course of mentoring a young VFW member. No attempt has been made to indicate what portion may be more important than another. This is often based on the experience and interests of the VFW Mentor. As a natural part of the mentoring process, each VFW Mentor will discover those areas where his or her interests lay – programs, hospital volunteering, community service, veteran’s service, the active military, etc. It should follow that they will have more passion and more experience in these areas; however, for the sake of the mentee, the VFW Mentor should use this curriculum to ensure the student’s introduction and education about VFW is broad based enough to allow the mentee to have a good understanding of all aspects of the organization and provide a solid foundation for their future involvement. Thus, it is encouraged that every aspect of the curricula should at least be touched upon. It is also important to point out an effective mentor will always attempt to identify those areas that are of particular interest to the individual being mentored and cover those areas thoroughly.
Reasons for creation of the VFW The founders and their backgrounds
Stated purposes and values addressed by the founders Significant milestones and accomplishments in VFW history Significant VFW members
VFW’s interaction with government, education and related organizations
The differences between generations of veterans – WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, OIF/OEF, etc.
VFW Congressional Charter and By-Laws, Manual of Procedure and Ritual
Basic tenets and purposes of the Charter
Relationships between the VFW National Convention, Councils of Administration, Departments, County Councils (where applicable), Districts and Posts
The various rituals, their meaning and usage Parliamentary procedure
Election of officers and various appointments.
VFW Departments, Districts & Posts
Responsibilities and relationships
Officers – their selection and responsibilities
Discuss each program – impact on the Post, community, youth, etc. Discuss how to select and motivate chairmen and volunteers Awards and how to use them
Reporting and recordkeeping
History of the Post and its personality
VFW politics at the Post, Department & National levels VFW publications
The VFW Canteen – advantages, disadvantages
National officers – selection process, powers, impact on the organization Relationship between the Post, District, Department and National organization The values shared by veterans and VFW members
The legacy of military service and the VFW Relationship between the service branches Recognizing and using generational diversity
VFW & the Department of Veterans Affairs
VA’s history and purposes
History of the relationship between the VA and the VFW
VFW National Veterans Service – purpose, structure, activities
VFW National Organization
The purpose and responsibilities of each office under the Adjutant General
The purpose and responsibilities of each office under the Quartermaster General Key staff members and their responsibilities
Recruiting – its history, methods and necessity The value of membership – benefits, etc.
Recruiting veterans from different conflicts, generations and genders
I’m sure we have all heard the horror stories about a perspective member who walks into a post looking to join and was either ignored completely or told the "person who can help you isn’t here right now, you’ll have to come back later”. It happens all the time. Or, a new member attends their first ever post meeting and everyone ignores them. No one greets them and introduces themselves or shakes their hand. The new member will sit in the back of the meeting area, they will not be recognized or introduced and will have absolutely no idea what is happening during the meeting or why certain things are done. After the meeting, no one talks to them, no one asks them who they are, where they are from, what service they were in or where they served. Chances are, that new member, volunteer and possible future leader will not return for another meeting. Your post has just lost that comrade.
How the State Mentoring will work
Each post has either a very new and inexperienced younger member or an older member who has really never been active for whatever reason or they have both. And, they have never attended a State Convention.
The idea is to TRAIN YOUR RELIEF!! If we don’t train our relief, we run the risk of either repeating as a post or district leader and/or chairman year after year. Can you say FRUSTRATION and BURNOUT??
Each post and district should appointment a Mentorship Chairman. This comrade should be involved and reasonably knowledgeable of the VFW and the programs, but it is not necessary that the chairman be an expert on the programs. The chairman in turn should recruit one or two or more comrades in the post/district to be Mentors who is/has been an active member and involved in helping with and chairing some of the various programs and have held one or more leadership positions within the post or district.
Those mentors will then either volunteer or can be assigned to mentor the member. They should call the new member, introduce themselves and let them know that you (the mentor) would like to meet with them at their convenience to answer any questions they may have, to explain the purpose and mission of the VFW and our programs and the day of the week and time of the next post meeting and invite them to attend. You might even offer to pick them up for the meeting and return them back home after.
If your post has a social media presence like Face Book, Twitter, Instagram, Web Page, or all of them and you use them to pass on info about the post and activities, make sure they are up to date and invite the new member to check them out. If your post publishes a monthly, bi- monthly or quarterly newsletter and you maintain extra copies, give them a copy.
At the meeting, you, the mentor, should sit next to the member, possibly in the back of the room but where they can easily hear what is going on. You should briefly explain what will happen during the meeting, when it will happen and why we do it, but keep an eye on them to watch their expressions. You will probably know when you see their quizzical look that they may not fully understand. Explain it in simple terms. You can get more in depth later.
When the meeting gets to the part of introducing guest, you should stand up and introduce the new member to the members, give a brief history of their service and where they served. With the permission of the commander, you should invite the member to stand up and tell them a little about themselves. If they are shy or say they rather not, then don’t press it. But you might make a motion that the meeting be adjourned for 5 minutes so the post members can greet and welcome them to the post.
After the meeting, offer to buy them a drink of some sort and ask them if they have any questions or if there was something they didn’t quite understand, then answer their questions to the best of your knowledge and ability. If you don’t know, tell them so but also let them know you will find out and relay that info to them.
At the end of the January, February and March quarter, each post in a district will nominate in writing (300 words or less) to their District Commander, ONE of the new or older, inexperienced members for possible selection to be awarded a trip to the next State Convention.
Nominee info must include:
Post number, their first and last name, VFW member number, when they joined the post as a member, how long they have been a VFW member, home address, email (if they have one) cell and home number, what committee or committees they served on, what they did on those committees, how their participation on the committee helped the committees’ projects succeed and if they have taken an elected position.
The criteria for nomination is:
1.MUST NOT HAVE ATTENDED A STATE CONVENTION BEFORE
2.Must have attended most or all scheduled post meetings during the year.
3.Must have served on ONE or MORE committees in various capacities
4.Should be a go getter, be enthusiastic, a "hot runner”. Must have shown initiative in
volunteering to help with programs and post projects/events throughout the year.
5.Should show interest in being a Vice Chairman or Chairman of a future event or program.
The District Commander should appoint a committee (5-7 members) to judge the submissions and select ONE winner from that district. The District Chairman will then forward the name of their selection to the Department Chairman.
THE DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION TO THE DEPARTMEN CHAIRMAN IS APRIL 10, 2020 BY 5:00PM (1700 hours). NO EXCEPTIONS
The District Commander or District Chairman should, within 48-72 hours, notify the district winner that he/she has been selected as the District winner to receive a paid trip to attend the State Convention.
Here’s what they will receive:
Department will pay for a standard hotel room at the convention hotel for 3-4 days (may even pay mileage – To be Determined). The District winner will be responsible for his/her food and incidentals (Post can help with the food costs by donating a stipend to the winner if they so desire). The winner is encouraged to bring his/her spouse or significate other as a guest but will be responsible for his/her food and incidentals also.
The winner and his/her guest will be invited to the State Commander’s reception where he/she will receive special recognition from the State Commander and State Mentorship Chairman.
The winner MUST attend department training classes, the Joint Opening and Memorial Ceremony, and the Business Session, Elections and Installation.
NOTE: A post or District may send other members from their post who have never attended a convention to the State Convention who they deem worthy, but that post, or District WILL BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ALL COSTS.
If any District Commander, District or Post Chairman has any questions, do not hesitate to contact the State Chairman.