We hear a lot about heroes today. And deservedly so. Our nation’s veterans have earned hero status, and we give them our deepest respect and gratitude for their service to others. The last thing veterans want, though, is to rest on their accolades. They want an opportunity to serve others honorably in civilian life.
That’s the sole purpose of The American College Penn Mutual Center for Veterans Affairs (PMCVA). Founded in 2011 through a $2.5 million pledge from Penn Mutual, the PMCVA provides full academic scholarships and financial services career opportunities to veterans, those in active duty and their spouses. The PMCVA has blossomed over the past 10 years, awarding 700 scholarships totaling more than $3.5 million.
But the true value of these scholarships isn’t in the numbers. It lies in the value that the financial services industry gains from hiring these heroes. Our industry is always on the lookout for quality talent, and the soft skills that veterans bring with them from their military career is ideal—things such as teamwork, integrity and grit. The PMCVA sets them up for success through our scholarship program, which leads to a career in the industry. It’s a win-win-win, for the employer, for the veteran, and for his or her clients.
And, we’re well positioned for success because the PMVCA is 100% distance learning. In fact, The American College has been a distance learning institution since its founding in 1927. Back then it was mailing books to our students; today it’s online and virtual instruction. After 18 to 24 months, our graduates are prepared to once again serve others.
It’s an honor to work with these veterans. Every interview I do with a scholarship applicant leaves me inspired by the caliber of person they are and the stories they share with me. Like the Army colonel whose elderly father stopped paying his bills, not on purpose, but because the task became too overwhelming. It struck the colonel that there are many more senior Americans who are in his father’s shoes, and now he wants to help elders take care of the financial tasks they desperately need, like simple estate planning. These are the kind of heroes our industry is looking for.
I truly believe that the PMVCA is a one-of-a-kind organization: 100% of the money we raise goes directly to the scholarships. Individuals and companies have stepped up huge in their giving at the Clambake, our annual fundraiser. In fact, in 2017 we raised $600,000 from 32 donors. Just two years later, we raised $1 million from 270 donors. It’s this kind of commitment that inspires me each and every day to work at reaching our goal to double our year-to-year scholarship total in 2020, from 125 in 2019 to 250 at the end of 2020.
But my true inspiration is in the PMCVA itself. Everyone comes away better for being a part of it—our staff, our volunteers, our Board, our donors, our scholarship recipients, and yes, me. After a long career in the Navy, I began my journey as the PMCVA’s Executive Director on Veterans’ Day 2013. And I haven’t looked back. It’s exciting to be part of this wonderful organization. It’s great that Penn Mutual continues to play an active role in the Center. From CEO Eileen McDonnell’s vision, to the hands-on Board membership of Tom Harris, Sheri Rhoades and Jim Meehan, Penn Mutual has been a difference maker over the last decade.
If you want learn more, be a donor, or if you know someone that is serving or who has served our country that might be interested in a second career in financial services, please visit our website. Matching the skills of our nation’s veterans and their spouses with our industry is the right thing to do.
This post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as specific financial, legal or tax advice. Depending on your individual circumstances, the strategies discussed in this presentation may not be appropriate for your situation. The information in this material is not intended as tax or legal advice. Always consult your legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation.