Today we’ll feature another military nonprofit that is worth your time if you are a junior leader in the military. Life Skills for Soldiers presents a unique train-the trainer construct that empowers junior leaders to teach their formations about better decision making. This piece was written by the organization’s founder. It’s worth a look!
Recently there was a picture making its way around social media that showed an all too common phenomenon, troops making poor financial decisions. It was a photo of a soldier who would be paying over $82,000 for a $30,000 car because of the predatory lending interest rate he was given.
Sadly this is far from an isolated incident. Fortunately, there is a new non-profit that is dedicated to fighting this issue by empowering military leaders to teach their troops life skills. It is called Life Skills for Soldiers (www.lifeskillsforsoldiers.org).
Life Skills for Soldiers’ mission is to improve servicemembers’ lives through life skills education. Our vision is to create a platform and leverage the train-the-trainer methodology to make it easy for all military leaders to teach their subordinates valuable life skills.
While serving as an Army Platoon Leader, I noticed an alarming pattern: good soldiers getting into trouble because of matters that had nothing to do with their professional responsibilities. For example, one of my NCOs, Sergeant M. was a hard worker, but his performance was deteriorating. When I asked why, he told me about his $5000 of credit card debt. He was not alone. Many soldiers were never taught basic life skills, such as how to budget, which affected them, their families, and their capacity to serve.
After hearing many such stories, my Platoon Sergeant and I discussed how we could help our soldiers. We thought about using an on post financial literacy resource but decided against it because of poor experiences with contractor run mandatory trainings. The classes and instructors simply failed to hold our soldiers’ attention (I think we only ever had one class where the instructor wasn’t the age of most of our soldier’s grandparents). So we decided we would do it ourselves and began to implement “broadening” classes on practical life topics the military does not teach. Every other month I led a class on a topic of the soldiers’ choosing, such as how to budget and basic investing. I would create a ~20 minute presentation and a ~40 minute practical exercise on that month’s topic. I taught the class overview and guided my subordinate leaders in creating personalized plans with their soldiers.
Doing things this way had an unintended consequence; not only were our soldiers engaged because they were being taught by their direct leadership, but me, my PSG and my NCOs were happy to have an opportunity to show our troops that we cared. These “broadening” classes not only increased our troops financial literacy, they also resulted in a radical drop in disciplinary issues and a drastic increase in platoon comradery.
A couple of years later while on post-deployment leave it hit me. Why not take the classes I had made, classes that were proven to hold the attention of a junior military audience, and put them online for every junior military leader to use for free? Why not create a mechanism where feedback gained from other junior military leaders could be captured and used to constantly improve the classes? This led to the founding of Life Skills for Soldiers as a 501c3 non-profit.
How to Get Involved
The majority of our team are current or former servicemembers who are passionate about this subject because they have seen this issue first hand. We recently went live and are looking to expand by adding more people to the team. We have a number of ways to get involved:
- By teaching your troops one of our classes (we currently have classes on budgeting, how to invest, how to buy a car, and how to choose and use a credit card – and are working on several more)
- By signing up to be a brand ambassador
- By volunteering with our marketing, operations, community or technology teams
- By signing up to create a class on a life skill you have mastered
We strongly believe that through creating classes that are tailored to military audiences and utilizing the train the trainer methodology we can greatly improve the lives of the military’s most important asset, it’s people.
Please email us at – firstname.lastname@example.org
Or DM us on Instagram – @lifeskillsforsoldiers
Editor’s note: I personally have helped out Life Skills For Soldiers and their classes are well done. Take a look. Again its: www.lifeskillsforsoldiers.org
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