Program Provides Mentors for Separating Military Members

A joint Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Department of Defense (DoD) effort with non-federal partners is working to connect military members leaving active duty with veteran sponsors who can help ease their readjustment to civilian life — and they need your help.

The Expiration Term of Service (ETS) Sponsorship Program, a non-profit corporation, offers newly separated veterans assistance in several areas, including employment, education, housing, legal, benefits and healthcare.

The ETS Sponsorship Program is introduced to service members during Transition Assistance briefings that all separating military members attend when leaving the service. Now officials are looking for volunteers, including recently separated veterans, to act as sponsors.

Ideally, a sponsor is available in the city to which the veteran will be relocating. If not, a nearby sponsor may be assigned and the veteran will be put in touch with local resources and partners that can help the new veteran and their family adjust to civilian life in a new community.

Related: Check out Military.com’s transition app

The sponsor will hold virtual meetings with the service member while they are still on active duty and provide knowledge about local and national programs that may be applicable to the military member’s specific needs. After the veteran separates from the military and arrives in their new location, the sponsor will also set up a face-to-face meeting at a local coffee shop or other public location to discuss how the program can best assist the veteran in their transition process.

Sponsors are certified by the VA and receive detailed training from the ETS Sponsorship Program on federal, state and local benefits and resources available to veterans and their families. Service member participation is voluntary.

Once a veteran is enrolled in the program and settled in their new hometown, the sponsor will contact them at least once a week via email, text or phone and at least once a month via teleconference or in person. The sponsor will discuss any goals, problems or concerns the veteran or their family has and offer solutions or put the veteran in touch with local experts who can assist them.

The program is in need of sponsors nationwide, and you do not have to be a veteran to volunteer. Sponsors are currently needed in Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin; however volunteers from any location are always welcome to apply to become a sponsor. For more information, or to sign up to become a sponsor or enroll in the program, check out the ETS Sponsorship Program’s website.

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