Honor Role: Vets Mentoring Vets

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Veterans learning to work with the tools of creativity on set, courtesy of VMV

Arts, media, and entertainment combined is a massive industry in America. Being a field that garners so much money and popularity, getting veterans in the door is a great way to show gratitude to those who have served us.

According to the Watson Institute at Brown University, over 2.7 million people have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, while the Department of Veteran Affairs’ 2015 Veteran Economic Opportunity Report states more than fifty percent of post 9/11 veterans will face significant unemployment spans in life. This makes employing more vets crucial!

There are quite a few companies and entities in entertainment that provide careers for veterans. The WWE is partnered with Hire Heroes USA to give people opportunities in performing and doing technical tasks behind the scenes. There is also Disney’s “Heroes Work Here” program, and a veteran job program set up by The Daily Show’s former host, Jon Stewart.

Though these are great opportunities, there is only so much room for veterans between those three venues. That is where Vets Mentoring Vets (VMV) hopes to come in. Vets Mentoring Vets (VMV) is a 501c3 non-profit whose mission, they state, is to “improve the lives of military veterans and their families through employment, education, and leadership, utilizing grants and direct funding of opportunities.”

Dale Nowicki, co-founder of VMV, is very proud of the work done by himself and his colleagues. “We are a group of military vets who work to improve the lives of military veterans and their families,” Dale tells us at VA Home Loan Centers. “Through media, arts and entertainment industry employment, education, and leadership, [plus] utilizing grants and direct funding of employment opportunities.”

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Veteran learning to do zombie make up, courtesy of VMV

The organization was founded and is run by veterans who are in the entertainment industry from varied professional backgrounds ranging from education to law enforcement and legal fields. VMV provides a supportive framework for vets to gain entry into their chosen professions. At no cost to their constituency, they ensure that veterans have what they need,  including mentors, for a successful transition.

Through VMV Director’s work with other veteran and industry organizations, they saw a need to provide vets with essential tools for reintegration to the civilian workforce. “If you give a veteran the chance to succeed, they will surpass your expectations,” Dale stated. “By assisting in the transition and providing training for meaningful jobs, it leads to economic and psychological success for everyone.”

Presently, all of the directors and support staff are volunteers, and every dollar raised goes directly to the training and employment of veterans in the media, arts, and entertainment industries. However, the organization’s recent growth will likely necessitate the creation of a compensated executive director position in the near future for expansion purposes.

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Volunteers Lucas Sanders of the Army and Ozzy Ramirez of the Army pictured along with some VMV administrators

Directors and other volunteers each contribute about 15 to 20 volunteer hours a week to ensure facilitation of the programs and training, as well as creating, and developing new employment opportunities for vets. “We credit our partners and volunteers for successes to date,” Amber Chaib says. “We need to continue to raise awareness of our programs in order to serve larger populations.”

Recently, VMV participated in Sony Pictures’ annual event, Salute to Heroes, and later this month they are offering an intellectual property workshop in downtown Los Angeles. “Veterans are driven individuals and work hard toward their goals. If they are in a creative field,” Dale says. “It is very important for them to have a basic understanding of how the law is going to affect and protect them.”

“Each day we serve veterans, something great happens,” Dale declares, who told us that they are sending a group of veterans to an Intellectual Property Class soon. “We are just under two years in existence, and our success stories get better all the time.”

Even if there is a veteran they come across who needs help getting into a non-creative career field, they just want to help give their all to those who served. Dale encourages anyone who has served in the military to contact them for inquiries of career opportunities.

Similar to the mission of the VA Home Loan Centers, VMV has emphasized the importance of education to successful undertakings. VMV directors agree that the VA needs to continue to inform and educate veterans about their benefits, to include home loans.

Visit the VMV website here (use their Contact feature to reach out for inquiries) and follow them on Twitter at @VetsMentoringVets. If you have questions about the VA Home Loan Program, please call 888-573-4496 or tweet @VAHomeLoanCtrs.

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