In the 20 months I spent crisscrossing the globe to meet with transitioning service members and their families and working on behalf of the State of Wisconsin, I often wondered what the draw was. Was it me, or was it the gorgeous marketing?
In time, I realized it was me.
When working with service members and veterans, there is little appetite for bullshit. If you are going to connect with these individuals, you have to show up and be authentic. That was why the initial state-supported talent attraction program worked — veterans were connecting with veterans to market the Great State of Wisconsin.
The true north of success
When the state’s veteran attraction program ended, it was the relationship piece — the true north of the program’s success — that drove me to find an avenue to continue the work. These were my brothers and sisters, many of whom struggled on the other side of service. Everyone knows the serious challenges veterans face. There is an epidemic of veteran suicide. They struggle to translate their military careers into plain civilian language. The shift from regimented military life to the freeform nature of life beyond service is a massive shift mentally, emotionally, financially and spiritually. And it became my calling to help them in any way, shape or form. To be someone they could connect to, to be that person in their corner, helping them shift from uncertainty to knowing someone had their back.
What sets Mission Wisconsin apart is that it is not a slick marketing campaign. It is not a recruiting agency. It is not transition coaching. Instead, it is a single point of entry to anything and anyone in the Great State of Wisconsin. It is a high-touch concierge service. We do the hard work, all the way to the end, to help the military community, veterans and their spouses find their place in Wisconsin.
We get that numbers and metrics are important, but relationships matter more for this population. And we do that work for our partners by serving as a bridge between top-notch Wisconsin employers and the military community with in-person recruiting and going to military bases. And because life is more than a job, we help individuals and their families connect to everything public and private. We are a hub, and the employers we represent and the resource providers we have relationships with — chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, educational partners, county veteran service organizations, other nonprofits — are the spokes. With this model, we go further, and that’s what makes us different.
Economies of scale
Our work is labor intensive, and the return on investment is difficult to judge. But ads and emails don’t build relationships. People do. We provide economies of scale to our partners — the cost for a company to do the travel and high-touch service we provide far exceeds what our partners invest in us, which is, in turn, an investment in hiring members of the military community.
And all that plane-hopping, speech-giving, connection-making and relationship-building has a compounding effect. For every service member we directly assist, dozens more have heard the gospel of the Great State of Wisconsin, and some have found their way here. Moreover, the service members we connect with at events aren’t just warm bodies to fill positions. Instead, these are experienced, mission-driven individuals with families who can reinvigorate our communities, schools and workforce. And with them comes federal Veterans Affairs dollars, which create secondary and tertiary ripples for an even greater economic impact.
Mission Wisconsin is a people-powered and people-driven mission. We are quality over quantity. We prioritize relationships. We know how to make connections, and we want to connect the military community to your opportunities. And most importantly, we know how to help this community transition from military to civilian life because we’ve done it ourselves.
Mission Wisconsin is not some grand experiment. It’s demonstrated value, and we want more employers and organizations to be part of this value and give back to our service men and women by offering them family-supporting jobs and welcoming them into our communities in the Great State of Wisconsin.