The Importance of Leadership Training in the Veteran-Serving Community

There is no skill more important than leadership, and honing it is critical when it comes to supporting our veterans as they transition back into civilian life.

I’ve always considered leadership training programs essential: As the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and, before that, the Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Procter & Gamble, I spent more than a third of my time training, developing, recruiting, promoting, and hiring leaders.

That’s one reason why I’m such a huge believer in the George W. Bush Institute’s Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program, which strives to educate, inspire, and position a network of community leaders from across the country to better support veterans throughout our Nation. It’s life changing, both for the Scholars themselves and for the veterans that they serve. And that’s ultimately to the benefit of us all.

Applications are open until Feb. 4 for the 2022 class, and I strongly recommend the program for leaders in the veteran-supporting community.

The needs of our post-9/11 veterans and their families are constantly changing, and the Veteran Leadership Program is working to develop individuals in the veteran-serving space with the skills to meet these evolving challenges in transition, education, workforce development, mental health, and other areas. Throughout the program, participants hear from a variety of nationally known and distinguished professionals, educators, and experts in veteran and military family transition issues.

When you join this program, you become part of a community of top leaders with an unwavering commitment to our post-9/11 service members and their families and each other. Veteran Leadership Program Scholars are truly in the ring together striving toward one common goal.

The program seeks to provide the space and the representation for Scholars to come together, discuss today’s most pressing challenges, and determine how they can cooperate to drive positive outcomes in their communities. And they’re doing remarkable work.

Take Verenice Castillo from San Antonio. Verenice is the Founder and CEO of the Military Spouse Advocacy Network (MSAN), where she connects military families with their supporting communities through mentorship.

While MSAN was already making a huge impact in the community it served before the program, the Veteran Leadership Program allowed Verenice to take the organization to the next level. Shortly after Verenice completed the Veteran Leadership Program, MSAN launched its first Military Spouse Mentorship HUB (Help Us Bridge) in partnership with the State of Alabama, and more states are already lining up to join the initiative.

Or take Dylan Tete, my fellow West Point graduate and the Founder and Executive Director of Bastion – a New Orleans community that gathers wounded, ill, or injured veterans to live alongside retired military and civilian volunteers in a healing and intentionally designed neighborhood. He walked into the Bush Institute a little lost in both his personal journey and his trajectory with Bastion and says he hoped to do the bare minimum in the Veteran Leadership Program because he was exhausted and selling himself and his capabilities short. Then he began interacting with other Scholars, who pushed him to achieve more than he thought was possible in the program and beyond.

Now, thanks to his own hard work and the support of his Veteran Leadership Program peers – including an award-winning journalist, a health care tech startup CEO, and an anthropologist researcher – Dylan is working to transform the continuum of care by offering housing alternatives to warriors and their families who need instrumental assistance in the activities of daily living.

I am confident his work will continue to be life changing for the veteran community across the country.

Verenice and Dylan are just two examples of the over 120 extraordinary leaders the Bush Institute has engaged so far through the Veteran Leadership Program.

As President Bush has said, “the idea of millions volunteering in the face of danger and billions and billions of people willing to help those who volunteered in the face of danger says the future is very bright.” The Veteran Leadership Program helps make people a part of that.

The value of participating in the Veteran Leadership Program is immeasurable. If you are passionate about serving our Nation’s post-9/11 veterans and their families, I encourage you to consider applying to the George W. Bush Institute Stand-To Veteran Leadership Program’s Class of 2022.

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