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Celebration of Service
 

A passion to serve those who serve their country

IBM honors employees who mentor returning veterans
 

IBM has more American Corporate Partner volunteers supporting veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan than any other corporation, and four of them have been declared ACP Mentors of the Month for August 2011.

The four IBM employees are from different communities and different work backgrounds; the common denominator is the heart-felt expressions of gratitude offered by their protégés, and their own sense of satisfaction in giving back to a deserving soldier who has returned from deployment in a war zone. As former Marine Kent Blossom explains, “You get the opportunity to meet and talk, and get a mutual level of comfort, so that expectations and objectives are a good match. I highly recommend the experience.”

Since 2009, IBM has had more than 250 ACP volunteers across the United States, bringing a wide variety of skills and experiences to the task of mentoring Armed Forces veterans who are re-entering civilian life. If you’d like to volunteer, are 35 or over, have significant corporate experience and are willing to make a one–year commitment to spend at least four hours a month with your veteran mentee, visit the ACP website for more information. IBM employees and retirees can find the volunteer opportunity “ACP: Be a mentor for an American veteran” at On Demand Community. On Demand Community is IBM’s strategic global online community that combines the skills of over 200,000 IBM employee and retiree volunteers with the power of access to innovative new IBM technology, resources, training, and support.

 

Connie Armbrust, an IBM regional learning integrator from Coppell, Texas, helps sales staff in the eastern United States with skills assessments and related education planning. She was paired with an Air Force retiree now working as an office manager on an Oklahoma Air Force base. Connie draws on her work skills, her background as a certified life coach and experiences mentoring other IBM employees.

Her protégé Kevin says that “from the very first time Connie and I communicated, she established a compassionate and truly concerned rapport.” Connie has helped Kevin polish his resume, mentored him on key civilian terminology and helped him prepare for a future in public health. “My mentee has unique skills and has earned recognition for things he’s done, his accomplishments. I showed him how to focus on those in his resume and interviews,” Connie says.

Kevin says, “Connie is more than just the Mentor of the Month, she is Mentor of the Year!”

For Connie, it’s been a commitment that only requires a small investment of time each month. “Perhaps the most fun part of the experience is that he’s just so appreciative of what I do. I feel like I’m just sitting and talking, but Kevin repeatedly tells me how much it means to him.”

Kent Blossom is a former U.S. Marine himself, now an IBM Vice President of Security Solutions. Based in Wilmington, North Carolina, Kent has been helping a member of the U.S. National Guard transition to private industry work with a major home improvement retailer. Dana, his mentee, says Kent “has provided a solid ear and helped me keep a strategic focus on how best to navigate my course in a corporate environment. He asks great questions, provides relevant examples and guidance from his past experience, and shows a genuine interest in my continued growth and progress.”

“I’ve found this a great opportunity to give something back to my community,” Kent says. “ACP found a really good match between my mentee and me. You get the opportunity to learn about another industry, as well, and share what you’ve learned over the years. I highly recommend the experience.”

 

Jesse Greenberg, a member of the Global Pricing Team in IBM’s Systems & Technology Group, works from his home in Piscataway, New Jersey. He formed an immediate bond with his mentee Sunjit (Sunny) Singh, an 8-year veteran of the U.S. Marines, who lives and attends school in nearby New York City. The pair has had lunch together, played golf and performed charity work together, all while revamping Sunny’s resume and helping him understand options outside the military. Sunny is completing a master’s degree and beginning to look for work in IT. He says of his mentor, “Jesse is knowledgeable, open minded, sincere and inspires me to be a role model.”

As for Jesse, he says it is “hard to find the words to explain the rewards you feel for having an impact on someone’s life. I recommend this to anyone as a great way to give back. We owe it to people who’ve put their lives on the line to reach out a helping hand and help them manage the transition to civilian life.”

Dan Ball, Sr. and his mentee Kraig lead pretty hectic lives: Dan as an IBM Public Sector Senior Project Executive in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and Kraig in college preparing for civilian life after 20-plus years in the Army. Both really value their time together, helping Kraig prepare to use his military and logistics experiences in his intended new career as a minister and counselor in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“While he has been very busy, Dan has taken the time to talk with me on a wide variety of topics and has a very genuine concern to do what he can to help me,” Kraig says. “And in this day and age, this is so much appreciated.”

Dan, who worked in military intelligence during his time in the Army himself, says the military allows one to assume a tremendous amount of responsibility under highly stressful conditions, and he’s prompting Kraig to use those kinds of experiences in presenting himself to prospective employers.

“The private sector is starving for the kinds of leadership skills you get in the military,” Dan says. He notes with pride that Kraig “has a plan and he’s marching toward it.”

And the mentee says of Dan, “I would have been proud if I could have served with him but am proud to be associated with him. Thank you and God bless America.”

IBM is marking its centennial year with a worldwide celebration of volunteer service. Throughout 2011, IBM invites everyone to join our global community of employees, retirees, families and friends as we support the communities where we work, live and learn together.