CAMP ZAMA, Japan – A new male mentorship program for 35th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion personnel officially began monthly leadership lessons Wednesday following the unit’s recent success in a similar program for females.
Led by Army spouse David Schenaker, the goal of the “Samurai Diamond” program aims to provide male members of the unit with an opportunity to look within themselves while learning skills that can help lift others.
“What’s great about mentorship is that it impacts everything,” said Schenaker, spouse of Capt. Miata Schenaker, the S-3 for the battalion. “It’s not just work, it’s not just home. It affects everything. So the more awareness you have, the more tools you have in your tool belt, the more effective you’re going to be.”
Schenaker, who is currently pursuing a doctorate in strategic leadership, said he organized a six-month course that has 12 topics designed to address key aspects of leadership.
The hourlong classes, which are held at the Community Recreation Center here, intend to create a safe space for Soldiers, where they can wear civilian clothes and speak openly about their issues as well as offer advice to other males.
The program may also allow Soldiers to learn basic life skills, such as changing the oil or tires on a car, as well as off-post outings to help form stronger bonds.
Schenaker hopes the program will eventually evolve into one-on-one mentorships being formed among the participants.
“Group settings are great, but the true growth of someone who is a mentee happens in the one-on-ones,” he said. “If you have a goal you’re trying to pursue, you may not feel comfortable sharing that particular goal in a group setting.”
Schenaker said mentorships will take some time to flourish as trust between both parties is developed.
“In a one-on-one, the mentor builds the relationship on trust and transparency,” he said. “Without the trust and transparency, the relationship cannot grow. It’s a relationship built over time.”
First Lt. Matthew Mast, a mobility control officer at the battalion, attended Wednesday’s class. As a young father, Mast, 26, said he wanted to see if there were any skills offered through the program that he could use in his personal life.
“Somebody in this room may have gone through a similar experience,” he said. “If you’re dealing with it, then somebody else probably has as well.”
While younger Soldiers may benefit from the program, Mast said more experienced Soldiers could also learn something new to apply in their own lives.
“Change is something everybody is uncomfortable with, at least I know it is for me,” he said. “So it’s just getting out of the comfort zone and being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Even the most accomplished people have leaned on others to continue their successful ways, Schenaker said.
“The way I look at it is that Michael Jordan had many coaches,” he said. “What makes you special? How come you don’t have as many coaches as some of the greatest athletes in the world? You think you’re just going to go through life and not need one? That’s silly.”
In the program, Schenaker said he wants to see participants wrestle with the tough questions in life and learn how they can better respond when something difficult comes along.
Schenaker, who volunteers to teach the lessons, also hopes others will join the program and lend a hand by mentoring someone who seeks guidance.
“It’s paying it forward to the next person,” he said of mentorship. “And that can be time, it can be listening, it can be just whatever you’ve learned and helping that go forward.”
For more information on the "Samurai Diamond" male mentorship program, click here.
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