Serving After the Service

A Mentor and Protege Duo Paired Up and Change Each Other’s Lives

by Fernando D.

I have been a mentor with Veteran and Military Spouse since 2013 and have mentored several proteges during that time. However, it wasn’t until I worked with my recent protégé, Krishna, that I realized the impact of the mentorship was mutual. In May 2017, I received a request for mentorship from Krishna, a U.S. Marine transitioning after 11 years of Honorable Service. I set up a call with Krishna because I wanted to introduce myself, understand his situation and ask Krishna what type of help he was looking for.

When the time for the call came, it turned out we were both in the same city. We decided to meet for dinner and ended up talking for about 2 hours sharing our histories and goals. Krishna, a hard-charging Infantry Marine of 11 years with multiple combat tours pierced to the core of my heart when he said, “Fernando, the real war is here, there is no one here to help.” I looked right into his eyes in reply to his statement, “I’ll help”. From there, I asked him to write down a plan for the goals he had. I told him, “I don’t need to see it, but you need to put your goals down on paper. They need to exist outside of your head. Then you can start to plan backward, from the goals in the future to the present, and determine what steps you need to take. Create a time frame for each and contingency plan for what can go wrong”.

We established a routine of calling semi-monthly. We focused on creating mock interview calls before his actual interviews. We can laugh about it now, but some interviews were better than others, but no matter what, I kept encouraging him. When Krishna had an interview with a company and I knew someone that worked there, I set up a call for Krishna and my friend, so Krishna could learn more about the culture and the company. This way he was better prepared for the interview. Krishna was able to find a great position that keeps him on a path towards his long-term goals.

I was recently passing through his city and met with him for dinner to celebrate his recent promotion. At one point I asked him, “How could I have helped you better?” Krishna went straight to my heart, “Thank you Fernando, the way you helped me out the most was through your encouragement and being there for me. I had someone that I could talk to, that had been there before. You made me feel like I finally had someone on my side.”

Thanks to my involvement with eMentor and my relationship with Krishna, I’ve learned more about leadership and about having someone’s back. I look back at my life and realize the people who helped me had a greater impact than I thought. This is why I’m a mentor with eMentor and want to help other veterans like me: someone who served our country in hopes of a better future for ourselves and our families. Someone who is willing to work, to have the courage to aim, fire, and hit our targets. I look forward to continuing the mission.

The Rest of the Story

by Krishna K.

I was skeptical of starting the eMentor Program. I was unsure of what to expect or of any hidden agenda that the person or the program might have. A lot went through my head, and the prospect of allowing a complete stranger into the inner workings of my character seemed

daunting. How I would be judged and be perceived was weighing on my decision to join. After some reluctance, I decided to give it a chance. After setting up my profile I saw that there were a several suggestions for a mentor that matched according to what I wanted to pursue.

I reached out to Fernando and arranged to speak over the phone the next day. Once we spoke, I realized the commonality we had with each other. Coincidentally, he was traveling near my area and invited me for dinner. As we got to know each other we discussed, in detail, his expertise, strengths and weaknesses, and ultimately where he could be of assistance based on his experience. What impressed me about Fernando was that he was very forthcoming of his weaknesses, to which he was open about, and did not fluff about his strengths. That was our initial meeting of the minds, after a couple of days, we both agreed to pursue mentorship.

Through the period of six months, my situation went from bad to worse. During the pursuit of employment, I was faced with many difficult situations, but I had a mentor that was able to guide me through the process of it all. As situations worsened, he truly empathized with what I was going through. Even at times when I didn’t want to talk to anyone, he persisted that I keep track of my goals and to write them down. There were times he coached me through scenarios, which provided guidance for my desired result. At times, he asked his colleagues for additional assistance. We decided to methodically take smaller steps towards what I wanted. Even when I was very hard on myself, he told me to keep focus, and he never judged me or my decisions, always asking, “How can I help?” Never once did Fernando’s support waiver, instead, he continued to motivate me and asked how he can support me in the pursuit of my goals. His steadfast devotion to my goals and his unwavering support was beyond refreshing, it’s what kept me moving forward.

Thankfully, he helped me to establish a path for my goals, and, with his help, I was able to turn my situation around. It certainly was not an easy period in my life. Fernando was instrumental throughout, constantly being there to help me navigate through rough terrains of life. As we matured through this relationship, a friendship formed and I am very positive we will maintain this closeness for the long term. I am so glad that Fernando is moving forward toward guiding others, he has lot of knowledge and resources that will come in handy and grateful for the time he spent helping me.