My Coast Guard
Commentary | Feb. 25, 2022

Leaving active duty? Match with a retiree mentor to support the transition 

By Lt. Rachel Ault, MyCG Writer

The Coast Guard Mentoring Program is expanding this spring to include the opportunity to connect with retired Coast Guard military members. Potential mentors and mentees can join an informational event scheduled for March 3, to learn more about enrollment and matching opportunities. The event will feature mentoring, retiree, and tuition assistance experts with an introduction of program features, followed by an open forum discussion and question and answer session among transitioning members, retiree volunteer mentors, and other interested participants.  

More than 300 retired volunteers have already signed up to act as mentors and facilitate networking for members working their way through the separation or retirement process.  

“I was happy to see such a great response from retired members, but I wasn’t surprised,” said Bob Hinds, Coast Guard retiree services program manager. Referring to the connection between current and former Coast Guard members, “the term ‘Long Blue Line’ is more than just a nice phrase. Even after active duty members leave the service, they still feel connected to their Coast Guard family and have so many resources and networking connections to share.” 

The idea to have retirees join the mentoring community started five years ago as a discussion in the Coast Guard’s Capital Area Region Retiree Council. A small group of the members within this council recognized that their community would be able to provide valuable resources and a wealth of knowledge to active duty members during what they termed “the last Permanent Change of Station.” The group launched a successful pilot retiree mentor program in the D.C. area in 2021.  

Initial success of recruiting volunteer mentors on a larger scale has demonstrated how much this community wants to give back to the service. The expansion to include retirees as mentors is modeled after casual connections that form between service members. 

As Chief Petty Officer Crystalynn Kneen begins her transition, she’s already been connected with a retiree mentor. Currently working as a public affairs lead on the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard’s team, Kneen’s mentoring experience is an example of how impactful these relationships can be. After attending a Transition Assistance Program Seminar (TAPs), Kneen was put in contact with retired Capt. Nathan Knapp the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) liaison to North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Northern Command. Knapp has since provided Kneen with resources to not only update her resume and prepare for interviews but has also facilitated tours of the FEMA facilities in both Colorado and Washington D.C.  

Through the mentoring connection, Kneen now has a plan to intern with FEMA through the Coast Guard’s newly launched Skillbridge program, prior to her retirement. 

“Mr. Knapp took me step-by-step through the transition process and made it feel less intimidating,” said Kneen. “From this experience I’ve seen firsthand what retired members have to offer. They’ve already been over the mountain and can make the whole process so much less scary. At this point, I’ve received so much help and networking from the retired community that I can’t imagine my transition not turning out successful.” 

The Coast Guard’s Mentoring Program is app based, enabled by modern, cloud-based software. While access to the program requires a uscg.mil email address for security purposes, retirees have been incorporated into the program through a database within the U.S. Coast Guard Transitions Community. Community members can filter available retiree mentors’ geographic location, or choose a mentor based off similar career aspirations. 

“There is so much value for our members to have access to resources and connections with mentors in the palm of their hand while sitting on their couch,” said Carl Boehmer, mentoring program manager in the Coast Guard Office of Leadership. “The inclusion of retired members into this community will better assist our members to successfully transition out of active duty service to civilian life or a civilian career.” 

I am already enrolled in the Mentoring Program, do I automatically have access to the network of retiree mentors? 

Yes. But it won’t appear the same as other mentoring connections within the Coast Guard Mentoring Program. There’s a workaround to incorporating mentors without a uscg.mil email account: the list of Retiree Mentors is included in the “U.S. Coast Guard Transitions: Navigating from Service to Civilian.” Members will need to be enrolled in this community to have access to the database of retiree mentors. 

Can active duty members join the Transitioning Group if they have not yet made the decision to separate or retire? 

Absolutely. The community is open to all members enrolled in the Coast Guard Mentoring Program. The target audience for the program is members approaching retirement or separation, but anyone considering transitioning out of the service into civilian life can benefit from this wealth of resources. 

 I retired from the Coast Guard, and I’m interested in becoming a mentor, how can I learn more information? 

If you are interested in becoming a mentor watch for mailings and emails from the Coast Guard Retiree Services. There will be active solicitations for additional retiree mentors over the next few months. Retired volunteer mentors will be asked to complete a standard Coast Guard Mentoring Program form to gather relevant information, including the retirees’ interest in building personal relationships with transitioning members and background, for example retirement date, ratings/specialties, qualifications, certifications, professional experience, etc. See recent GovDelivery newsfeeds: 

FOR MORE INFO 

  • Download the Mentoring Program app and enroll in the program – search for Chronus Mentoring in your smartphone’s app store or go to the Mentoring Program website
  • Learn more about the Mentoring Program
  • Watch this video about how mentoring can help you reach your career and leadership development goals 

 EVENT: Coast Guard Transitioning Members/ Retiree Mentors 

Time: Mar 3, 2022 2:00 Eastern Time (US and Canada) 

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Meeting ID: 160356305899 

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