Two months ago at Military Veterans Resource Center's May monthly training session, the organization started its inaugural communications club, aptly named Wind Talkers. The club name came from the 2002 film, WindTalkers, loosely based off of the true story from the WWII Marine Corp soldiers who spoke in Navajo code to keep their information from being compromised.
The ultimate goal of Wind Talkers is to help veterans develop better employment communications skills.
Executive Director, Len Proper, sees communication as one of the major barriers to employment for transitioning veterans. Proper first noticed that veterans often struggle with communication skills, whether it be during the interviewing process, writing the cover letter, or even after landing a job. He saw how this was affecting the success rate of veterans who were securing and maintaining jobs. In order to help combat this problem, Proper developed the concept of Wind Talkers to not only work on public speaking skills, but to also build upon presentation skills and interviewing etiquette.
Wind Talkers is designed to not only create deeper bonds between the veterans and the career specialists (who also must participate), but to provide a social outlet and to reinforce positive communication techniques in a low pressure, comfortable environment for the veteran.
The communications club is currently being tested with the career specialists and administrative staff. The first two meetings have been successful and positive experiences for all involved. The initial session began with Proper springing the first assignment on all MVRC staff, without notice or awareness of the creation of Wind Talkers. While the assignment caused a natural amount of anxiety, ultimately the day ended in laughter because everyone had just gone through the same experience.
On testing the program with the career specialists and staff, Proper said, "The point of the exercises is to build up comfort levels of the career specialists, so that they will be better able to relate with some of the confusion being felt by the veterans."
Military Veterans Resource Center plans on integrating veterans into the club soon. The plan is to use the dedicated time for Wind Talkers as a safe space to help veterans develop the various communication skills necessary to succeed in the civilian workplace. Proper says that he plans on expanding assignments to include mock phone interviews, fish-bowl sessions, panel sessions and even practice dinner, or lunch interviews, so that proper etiquette and behavior will be reviewed and critiqued.
Proper imagines that for the mock phone interviews, either himself, or Tim Taylor, the Director of Operations leave the room and make the call, acting as an interviewer. The recipient of the call will then act as the interviewee as the rest of the Wind Talkers observe. This formation of one or two participants performing an exercise with the rest observing is commonly referred to as a fish-bowl session.
The idea behind Wind Talkers is to be seen as much more than just a speech club, and more of a semi-professional organization that will serve as a stepping stone into launching veterans into their future careers.