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The Boots to Shoes program is a new addition to Goodwill's overarching Military and Veteran Services Program. Now in its seventh year, the program is designed to prepare outgoing military members for the challenges of civilian life.
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How pizza and Goodwill can help prepare military members for civilian life

Transitioning from the military to civilian life can be quite the culture shock, but Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region in Tacoma is trying to make the change as seamless as possible. As a part of their Military and Veteran Services Program, Goodwill is incorporating a nationally-acclaimed "Boots to Shoes" mentoring service that helps prepare transitioning service members for the civilian workforce.

Boots to Shoes

This Goodwill program pairs participating veterans with mentors, who give advice on how to conquer the process of finding a job once they've left the military. Similar to how colleges help prepare graduating students, these mentors tailor their advice to match each veteran's goals and skills. Veterans learn how to present themselves in interviews, what to look for on job boards, and how to land the job they want. Civilian mentors provide transitioning service members with insight into the language of civilian professions, setting career goals, creating a job search plan and becoming a sounding board and checkpoint for career progress.

Mentorship isn't something that happens overnight; and therefore, volunteers for the program need training. Starting this month, volunteer businesses like MOD Pizza can receive training to help them become effective mentors for the Boots to Shoes program.

Overall, the Boots to Shoes program will send these trained mentors to individually teach about 200 outgoing military members in 2020, but that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Military and Veteran Services Program

The Boots to Shoes program is a new addition to Goodwill's overarching Military and Veteran Services Program. Now in its seventh year, the program is designed to prepare outgoing military members for the challenges of civilian life.

Operation GoodJobs is another way that Goodwill tries to set veterans up for success in civilian life. In addition to Boots to Shoes, this program is a mission to match veterans with jobs where they can succeed, develop, and stay for a long time.

Veterans get the following benefits:

  • Access to over 1,400 employers
  • One-on-one resumé and cover letter advice, plus professional guidance on creating a LinkedIn profile
  • Free job training that can lead to certifications in certain fields
  • Tips on job openings, and networking with hiring managers

Employers who choose a veteran in the Operation GoodJobs program can trust the veteran has been screened and analyzed to make sure they're a great fit for the business.

Networking events take all of this a step further, putting veterans face-to-face with potential employers. The personal communication at these events can be highly beneficial in making good first impressions and receiving immediate feedback on resumé materials.

By offering these programs to the Pacific Northwest community, Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region has received the prestigious Seal of Distinction, which honors nonprofits for their efforts in preparing veterans for the civilian workforce.

MOD Pizza's mission

MOD Pizza will contribute about $20,000 to support Goodwill's Boots to Shoes, starting the program on the right foot. Additionally, as the company continues to expand its business in Western Washington and beyond, MOD believes it can provide employment opportunities to some of the talent that flows through Boots to Shoes and the Military and Veterans Services Program as a whole.

There are plenty of candidates flooding out of the area. Of all the military bases in the world, about 6,500 veterans and family members come out of Tacoma's Joint Base Lewis McChord every year. About 3,800 of those usually stay within the state to look for employment.

That's a lot of room for military outreach, and you can bet that the new partnership of Goodwill of the Olympics and Rainier Region and MOD Pizza is just getting started on that task.

If you're interested in joining one of Goodwill's military outreach programs, you can visit this link to sign up or request more information.

You can support the Boots to Shoes program by simply buying a pizza. Visit MOD Pizza's newest location in Gig Harbor on Jan. 25 for the MOD Pizza Community Day fundraiser. All pizza sales that day at that location will go toward the Boots to Shoes program.

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