Nov 29, 2021

Fall 2021 Newsletter

Giving Tuesday: Your Impact at COMMIT

The COMMIT Foundation is dedicated to providing high-touch transition support that becomes the standard nationwide for veterans in all communities. COMMIT aims to go beyond job placement and provide veterans a path to help them identify their passions, build strong networks, and leverage their skills in civilian careers. However, living a fulfilling life is perhaps COMMIT’s most important success metric.

Over the last few months our annual survey uncovered some truly heartening statistics:

  • Nearly 50% of COMMIT service recipients volunteer in their communities, continuing their commitment to service beyond their military careers

  • Almost 90% of all COMMIT service recipients are satisfied with the life they designed through the COMMIT Foundation Pursue Your Purpose program

  • While COMMIT does not believe that money equates to happiness, 67% of our veterans have reported an annual salary over $100k

  • 85% of COMMIT veterans are working in a position that aligns with their goals and value

Our work did not stop in the midst of the pandemic either. In 2021, The COMMIT Foundation quickly pivoted to meet the needs of the military community in the COVID environment. After moving all workshops to a virtual platform in 2020, we are beginning to hold in-person workshops again. We also launched a long-term needs and impact survey and learned that our veterans are desiring support for their entire family. In 2022, we will begin to address this by launching spouse programming. While the service member undergoes an immense transformation as they transition out of service, their spouse experiences a significant change, as well. Our goal is to provide spouses the space to imagine and explore the lives they want for themselves and their families together with the tools to lay a strong foundation for success in their post-service life.

The COMMIT Foundation is also endeavoring to create platforms to delve into important issues affecting the veteran community as well as highlight areas where veterans can make significant contributions to their communities and employers. Through a series of 2022 webinars and other events, veterans, veteran advocates, corporate partners, donors, and COMMIT alumni will share their experiences and thoughts in a truly transformative way. We invite the public to join us on these panelist discussions and webinars to learn more about the meaningful impacts veterans and their families can have.

To learn more about how you can get involved with The COMMIT Foundation, contact us or click here to support COMMIT directly.

Healing in Healthcare

After the withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, many service members and veterans felt the effects of moral injury after the end of a twenty-year war. The veteran community pulled together not only to support one another but also to aid Afghan refugees. This grassroots movement was powerful and ended up not only helping Afghans but impacting policy and responses at the State Department and elsewhere in government..

Many veteran support groups also began hosting open group therapy sessions and companies started to to support their veteran employees during this difficult time.

One industry, however, was in the throes of its own crisis. Healthcare workers and hospitals have been operating at high operational tempo with limited resources, reduced manpower throughout the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic. While these two groups (veterans and healthcare workers) are not intrinsically connected, this moment in history has opened an opportunity for shared healing.

On November 17th, The COMMIT Foundation hosted a virtual event to highlight this dynamic in a way which inspired hope and innovative leadership to meet the ongoing and unprecedented challenge. On the call were COMMIT Alumni, Chief Administrative Officer at UC Health, Ron Fitch and Clinical Engagement Director at Sondermind, Wendy Rasmussen. They were joined by Tillman Scholar and current Physicians Assistant at OU Health, Johnnie Gilpen and child caregiver to a wounded warrior and first-year Resident Nurse, Isabella Taft.

The conversation traversed through topics ranging from morale, vested leadership and stress first aid. “From a stress first aid perspective I would suggest looking at the four sources of stress injury” Dr. Rasmussen said. These sources are loss or grief, inner conflict (or doubting one’s ability to make a difference), wear and tear from long hours and stressful situations while not being able to decompress or spend time with friends or family, and life threat which was fairly unknown at the beginning of the pandemic and is still a relatively ambiguous threat for healthcare workers and their families.

Ron Fitch talked through some ways his team at UC Health Pikes Peak Regional Hospital have addressed this stress continuum for their staff. From his 23 years as a US Army Special Operator, troop welfare was always important. Along with a quick daily morning standup where leadership can address their staff’s immediate needs, he also was keen on gestures which provide comfort. Hot meals, a clean facility to shower and change and space to decompress were all implemented through the pandemic. “We also leveraged the mental health lines for people to call and check in with behavioral health” Fitch said.

Providing this level of support is a great way to boost morale but retention remains a struggle for hospitals throughout the US. Johnnie Gilpen lamented the trend, citing an enormous incentive to leave one’s hospital to become a traveling nurse as a point of friction and threat to morale.

“People are quitting left and right. It’s not truly burnout,” Gilpen said, “it’s more of a moral stress.”

He explained that if a traveling nurse leaves their permanent position for 17 weeks, they can make significantly more money and afford to take time off after their “tour” is done. Isabella Taft recognized this trend as well but feels needed in her role and brings a positive attitude amidst some very trying circumstances.

“I fell in love with medicine vicariously through my dad,” Taft said. After losing a patient in her first few weeks on the job, she immediately called her father. He talked her through being comfortable with the grief and cautioned her not to internalize it or blame herself: sound wisdom to anyone processing trauma.

The biggest takeaway from the event was the importance of present and proactive leadership. While the experiences of each individual panelist ranged widely, the consensus was that open communication from vested leaders to the front line worker is critical to boosting morale and encouraging retention. The COMMIT Foundation hopes that the tools and suggestions shared in this discussion will bring lessons from veterans to help spark potential healing solutions for our beseiged healthcare workers.

For the full recording of this event check out our Facebook page or our podcast.

Veteran Spotlight: Heidi Anderson

The COMMIT Foundation partnered with its generous donors around Veterans Day to promote veteran advocacy and help twenty of our service recipients move closer to their post-service lives. Blackstone hosted our transition mentoring workshop out of their New York City Office on November 9 and 10.

One of the participants, Heidi Anderson, possessed a particularly applicable skillset. As a Finance Officer in the US Army for the past 20 years, Anderson served as a comptroller in the Special Operations Community and as a Chief of Staff. She holds a bachelor's degree in Business Administration and two masters degrees, an Executive Master of Public Administration and Master of Business Administration from Syracuse University. Learning about investment management and financial industry mobility pathways in the private sector was a unique opportunity for Anderson.

While at the workshop, Anderson began to see the path ahead. “What I wanted to achieve from the beginning versus where I am now is already so different since The COMMIT Foundation has helped me build my confidence, my narrative, and network.” Anderson said. On November 19th, Anderson joined The COMMIT Foundation in a lunch and learn event at TowerBrook Capital Partners to help raise awareness around veteran hiring and advocacy.

She plans to transition out of the military in February 2023 with internships and executive shadowing beginning this May. Anderson is looking to The COMMIT Foundation to help her gain knowledge from executive coaches, receive assistance in developing resumes, and learn the paths to successful transition from the Army way of life into her next career.

Guy Filippelli: Committed to veteran success

It is difficult to encapsulate someone’s life while they are continually rising; like photographing a moving object. But for Guy Filippelli, co-founder and Board Chair of The COMMIT Foundation, this is the case. Recently named a Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army, this West Point graduate and former Intelligence Officer understands how to lead in stressful complex environments.

Before his multiple tours overseas, to include Afghanistan, understanding Guy Filippelli requires an appreciation of where he comes from. Raised in Cleveland, he is a second generation American. His grandfather proudly served in the Army. His father was the first in his family to go to college, propelling his career working for the railroad. Growing up, Filipelli was very technical and excelled academically. However, West Point presented a poignant culture shock. “The breadth and depth of diversity at West Point opened my eyes to the greatness of our nation.” Filipelli said. This realization would be part of the foundation for his leadership style moving forward.

Fast forward several years, Filipelli utilized his advanced technical training and leadership skills to become a serial entrepreneur. This parallel shift in a new world allowed him to excel as an operator. He was working within the same areas as he had in the military. “The thing the military did for me was provide a series of jobs, i.e., apprentices, and put me in charge of things you truly had no right to be in charge of at a young age. No other industry allows you to do this! I tried to seize those opportunities.” Filipelli said. He has never stopped leaning on his experiences as an officer in the Army.

Filipelli’s passion for The COMMIT Foundation came from his own transition from the military. Toward the end of his Army career, Filipelli’s work with the NSA compelled him to begin designing and ultimately launch his consulting business. He recognized that not all service members are as fortunate to have a role which transfers easily into the private sector. He keenly understands how the military helped him in life. The aspect of social mobility is often overlooked as a benefit of military service, but not for Filipelli. “The exposure to leadership and a set of principles built upon a very successful proven structure helped me understand what I could do in life.”Filipelli said. His experience drives him to ensure others have the same opportunities to find their true calling in life once they have transitioned from military service. His primary driver with COMMIT is helping others find their passion project in life.

Filipelli’s vision for transitioning service members aligns well with COMMIT’s; veterans must have the opportunity to live serendipitous lives using the specialized leadership and otherwise transferable skills they garnered through military service to help them pursue their purpose.

Donor Shout Outs

Thank you to our friends at Blackstone, Coinbase and Apollo Global Management for your generous donations and continued support!

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