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Buddy to Buddy Veteran Mentorship Program

What is Buddy to Buddy?

The Buddy to Buddy Veteran Mentorship Program provides support and connection to resources to all Michigan service members and veterans by utilizing trained, veteran volunteers. The program is free, confidential, and open to any individual who served, regardless of time served or discharge.

How Do I Sign Up?

I would like to be connected with a Buddy: To begin the process to find resources in your area and to connect to the Buddy to Buddy program, call 1-800-MICH-VET (1-800-642-4838) or fill out the Buddy to Buddy Referral Form.

I’m interested in volunteering: If you are a veteran interested in becoming a mentor for other veterans in your area, please complete the Buddy to Buddy mentor application and email it to MVAA-B2B@michigan.gov.

How Does Buddy to Buddy Work?

Our veteran mentors, or Buddies, are paired with veterans and service members in need, ideally from their own counties, or nearby, since Buddies are expected to be knowledgeable of not only federal and state benefits but local offerings as well. The relationship should never be transactional: providing support as a peer is the foundation of the program, even if a wide array of more material and tangible needs are presented. Buddies are also trained in and expected to demonstrate excellent communication skills. There is never a “one and done” with the program, as the mentors are expected to follow-up with their veterans/service members at least once, to see how resources provided worked out, or to do a general check-in. Interactions with veterans must be documented and reviewed by a staff member, both for accountability and quality assurance.

Our veteran mentors do not take the place of existing resources; rather, they draw on their existing knowledge, and the resource guide provided by the program, to connect veterans to these benefits and services. Buddies provide “warm hand-offs” by calling the resources first, ensuring ability to assist, and ideally obtaining a point-of-contact.

Buddies are provided with training that gives an overview of the program, communication strategies, veteran benefits, and how to handle mental health emergencies. While rare, both veterans and the program must have a clear understanding of what to do when a veteran is having a mental health emergency and what “red flags” to look for. The process must be codified by

the program. Bi-weekly support calls with staff, including guest speakers and case studies, are needed to keep Buddies proficient.

Veteran Mentors can be assigned referrals through the Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center, online submissions, or through their work in the community. Buddies have traditionally been allowed access to Michigan National Guard armories to take concerns directly from the soldiers there. Returning Veteran Mentors should be asked about their past involvement and possible continued interest in operation in the armories.

Referrals are considered concluded when veteran concerns are addressed and the communication naturally tapers off. Some veterans and mentors maintain communication and develop a friendship long after initial concerns are resolved.

Who Are Buddy Coordinators?

Buddy Coordinators are leadership mentors assigned regionally according to Michigan’s prosperity regions. They provide mentorship and support to Buddies in their respective regions. Buddies look to them first for leadership and advice on handling complex referrals. Staff are the next line of support for mentors and team leaders. Team leaders should be carefully cultivated and meet at least quarterly with staff.