As part of National Mentoring Day, Help for Heroes Veterans have spoken about the benefits of the mentoring programme and how it is enabling them to forge a new life for themselves outside of the Armed Forces. Becoming a mentor with Help for Heroes will help you to empower the Veterans and service-personnel that we support, helping them unlock the potential they possess and, ultimately, allow you to become part of The Force for Good.
The benefits of being mentored
Chris Emptage served 23 years in the Army, building a career as a member of the military police. Chris’ career took him around the world and he served tours in Bosnia and Iraq.
In 1996, he served as part of a team that discovered and then documented a mass grave in the Drvar Valley in Bosnia. It’s an experience that left a painful invisible injury and Chris has been diagnosed with PTSD.
"Thank you so very much, for supporting my brothers and sisters in arms and for offering a voice which guides a way through the thicket."
Chris enrolled on the Help for Heroes Pathfinder course in January 2016, a three-phase course which arms Veterans with pre-employment skills and helps them identify a fulfilling future. Here, he was allocated his mentor to help him fulfil his personal and professional goals.
He said: “The value of having a non-judgmental listening ear, importantly with a different perspective on life, cannot be underestimated. The learning opportunities that present themselves in both directions have amazed us both. A mentor is supposed to be the wise counsel to the young buck, a reminder that there is no need to rush down the hill. Charlie has been that to me but, he has been more. He is valued advice, he is a friend and confidante: a mentor in the most positive sense of the word.
“There are few people in this world that I will pick the phone up to talk about some of my deepest-rooted fears but Charlie is one of them. My business wouldn’t be the success it is now without Charlie's insistence that it could be. In those quiet moments of doubt, his voice was there resolutely insisting that it could be done. The importance of that cannot be underestimated for me.”
What makes a good mentor?
A mentor can be from all walks of life, civilian and ex-military. We recognise that Veterans may feel isolated and lonely. A mentor can keep them engaged. During a transition period, Veterans need vision and direction and a mentor offers support and guidance.
Dental Hygienist Mandy Holliday has been a Help for Heroes mentor for 4 months. She was inspired to become a mentor after watching the Help for Heroes support Invictus Games Choir and said she felt compelled to help wounded or sick Veterans integrate into civilian life.
"In those quiet moments of doubt, his voice was there resolutely insisting that it could be done."
“I truly feel that this is my calling”, she said. “The skills needed to be a good mentor I would say are listening, tuning in to what the person is saying and feeling at that moment; being patient and empathetic; being positive; having the ability to encourage the person to move forward (even in the tiniest way); and having a sense of humour.
"I help my Veteran with keeping on track with his projects, talking through the difficulties and identifying possible solutions. I am very much a sounding-board and am completely separate from his military contacts and very much a civilian friend to him.”
The rewards of being a mentor
Mandy has helped her Veteran have a more positive outlook, recognise what can bring him down and he is better able to cope with stressful situations.
“When I first met David, it was written all over him that he wanted to escape! It took immense courage for him to make that step towards meeting me, a complete civilian stranger.”
Four months on, they have regular phone calls and monthly meetings.
“The most rewarding thing about being a mentor is the feeling that I am making a bit of difference to his life. To know that he will be okay as a result of our mentoring relationship will mean the world to me. To know that he has gained confidence in himself and is starting to do stuff and not get too depressed anymore, to hear him laughing more, you can't beat it! The other positive thing is that when I, myself, have felt a bit down, I have my weekly phone call to him, and it has lifted me!
"To anyone thinking of becoming a mentor for Help for Heroes I would say two words: DO IT! Oh and then another ten: It is the best thing you will have ever done!"
A message for the mentors...
Richy Burnett adds: “Your whispers and encouragement are without doubt, clearing the way and changing lives in every sense. Anyone who is ill or wounded, goes through a period of thinking that we ought to just face the facts. That we are broken. That our lives and our potential, have in part, ended.
"Some of us fight so very hard to ignore this idea, to win back the future. You have stepped into the unique position of ’The Mentor.’ Giving counsel, guidance, help and assisting in areas for growth. Teaching strategy to the bold and offering wisdom to the confused. Because of you, men become better fathers, women better mothers, better partners, businessmen, better for others and better for themselves.
“Thank you so very much, for supporting my brothers and sisters in arms and for offering a voice which guides a way.”
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