Veterans face many challenges when transitioning from military service. The uncertainty and anxiety that come with leaving the military service can be very stressful. There are many programs that help transitioning veterans make the move back into the private sector. One program in particular focuses on helping veterans transition into public service where they can continue to serve their communities. The Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship program makes this possible. Here are two interviews--one with Vickmarie Murray, a fellowship participant, and one with her mentor Laura Savage, the assistant to the district manager of Pueblo West Metropolitan District.
Vickmarie Murray transitioned from the U.S. Army as a staff sergeant. She was a signal intelligence analyst and an Army career counselor. Vickmarie discusses how the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship made her transition more natural and the impact that mentorship has had on her.
What agency hosted you as a fellow? What departments were you assigned?
Pueblo West Metropolitan District, where I worked with the assistant to the district manager (Laura Savage) and the human resources manager (Aric Ward, VLGMF fellow alumni).
What did you do as a fellow while assigned to the agency?
Working with the assistant to the district manager has allowed me to be part of opportunities that enable me to have a better understating of local government, and it has helped me learn how my transferable skills are applicable in the civilian workforce. Some of these opportunities include staff meetings, personnel policy committee, purchasing policy committee, 50th-anniversary celebration committee, and incorporation study committee.
Working with human resources has helped me learn the differences and similarities between the civilian workforce and the human resources department in the Army.
Did the program increase your interest in working for a local government?
The experience has solidified my passion for the field. Laura also encouraged me to explore other departments and I encourage you to do so as well. I toured the water and wastewater plant and have a new outlook on the process behind providing clean water to the community. If you decide that local government is not for you, I can promise you that at a minimum that you will learn how to be a better citizen and more appreciative of public servants.
What mentorship did you receive during the fellowship?
I have worked with some of the most dedicated people I have ever met, and I have gotten a significant amount of mentorship. I have been able to actively network through opportunities at work and activities organized by the program. I was able to meet prior city managers and other service members that successfully transitioned into local government. Lastly, I have been able to change my mindset and adjust to a different career field.
Laura Savage serves as the assistant to the district manager at the Pueblo West Metropolitan District and provides management and support for the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship. Laura provides insights on mentoring a veteran and the impacts on her professionally, personally, and to the community and the veteran.
How is mentoring a veteran beneficial for the veteran?
Transitioning military service members are extremely nervous about leaving the military and entering a new phase in their life. Mentoring is an excellent opportunity to discuss the unique challenges they face and to smooth over fears of finding a career as fulfilling as the one they are exiting. By finding a mentor who is a good fit, the mentee can receive honest and constructive feedback on resumes, interviews, cover letters, body language, and communication skills. Veterans crave feedback as they navigate new routines, social norms, and managing projects.
What are the benefits of mentoring a veteran?
Mentoring a veteran has become hands-down the highlight of my career. Not only do I reap the reward of lifelong friendships, but I get the honor of witnessing these talented men and women succeed in finding their new careers.
How has mentoring helped you grow as a local government professional?
Mentoring a transitioning military service member has reminded me that not everyone beginning a career in local government has the exact same skill set. Just as communities are diverse blends of residents, a diverse and inclusive team is crucial for success. Mentoring also provides me with an opportunity to learn new things and step outside of my comfort zone.
What impact has mentoring had on your community?
Mentoring has positively impacted my community in many ways by merely exposing the transitioning military service members to multiple facets of local government. Many times, veterans offer insight and experience in community meetings, meeting other community leaders, and specifically while interfacing with community stakeholders. Our organization has grown immensely by hosting veterans and organically the ripple touches my community.