I recently had the opportunity witness the graduation and swearing in of nearly 100 new Veterans Mentors at the 3rd Annual Justice for Vets National Boot Camp.
Justice for Vets is an organization that was founded in 2010 and is dedicated to creating a nationwide network of Veterans Treatment Courts. There are currently more than 220 Veterans Treatment Courts in the country with hundreds more in the planning stages.
One of the keys to the success of Veterans Treatment Courts is their ability to link troubled veterans with volunteer veteran mentors. The graduation ceremony not only capped two full days of education and training for the new mentors, but it also celebrated their commitment in the closing session of the annual national conference attended by more than 4,500 court and social professionals already involved in planning or running a Veterans Treatment Court or other specialized treatment court.
How does an organization build a cadre of volunteers who will advocate and work so tirelessly to implement its mission?
In a powerful ceremony that took less than an hour, this organization:
- reinforced the need for and value of the contributions these volunteers were going to provide
- recognized how uniquely qualified these particular individuals were to complete the task at hand, both because of their prior military service and their successful transition to civilian life
- provided the training and materials needed to help the volunteer mentors understand their assignment more fully and be able to complete it more effectively
- created a forum for public acknowledgment and appreciation of the mentors' willingness to give of their time, energy and skills in the service of other veterans
- and as a part of that forum, also pledged broader, continued support as the volunteers returned to their individual communities to put into practice what they had just learned.
Powerful stuff. Talk about reinforcing and reinvigorating a commitment. And becoming a volunteer mentor is no minor commitment!
(Full disclosure: Justice for Vets is also a professional services division of the National Association for Drug Court Professionals, an organization in which my wife has been involved since its inception 20-some years ago. I have a bias toward treatment courts as well as a bias toward helping veterans, so my favorable reaction to this event may come as no surprise.)
But, that notwithstanding…
Does it make your wonder if your volunteers are as committed to you? Or, if they could be?
How well does our organization accomplish the above five points?