By Mary C. Coyle

I never could have imagined when I learned about Guitars for Vets from my Blues-loving, guitar-playing, U.S. Army Veteran husband, that one day (As in now!) I would be doing a three-month volunteer gig with Guitars for Vets, thanks to an amazing program offered by my employer, The Cigna Group. 

The Cigna Group’s Community Ambassador Fellowship (CAF) Program awards a select number of employees up to three months of paid leave to volunteer for a charitable organization of their choice. The application process is rigorous – just up to 15 Fellowships are awarded each year – but if successful, the Fellow can help create life-changing impact across communities. 

I learned about Guitars for Vets from my husband, Mark, who wanted to volunteer his time as an instructor. Since there is no chapter near us at the moment, Mark donated, and purchased merchandise instead. We also talked a little bit about what it would look like if he wanted to open a chapter locally, but we didn’t do any real follow up.

I was very interested in applying for a Community Ambassador Fellowship. I had never heard of an employer-sponsored program that provided so much time to work with a charitable organization. Three months would enable me to have significant positive impact, so I decided to take my shot.  

Given Mark’s interest in Guitars for Vets (and all things guitar, really), they came to mind as a potential Fellowship partner. I can’t play guitar at all, so I thought about what I could offer…my professional skills. I have many years of experience in corporate communications, media and public relations, strategic messaging, writing, etc. So I reached out to see if Guitars for Vets might be interested. They were.

I started my Fellowship on April 15, exactly one year to the day after I received my first email from Guitars for Vets leadership in response to my initial messages. Throughout the application process and project planning, and now in the first weeks of my Fellowship, I’ve had the pleasure of working with members of their national leadership team. They couldn’t be more welcoming and collaborative. 

Beyond what I already knew about Guitars for Vets from their website and social media presence, I have quickly come to learn that this team is driven. They care, and they are exceedingly committed to Guitars for Vets’ mission of providing relief to Veterans through music and community. They are passionate about investing in our Veterans, and the many volunteers who make Guitars for Vets possible. I’m thrilled to be working with them, and I look forward to what we will achieve together. 

I’m truly grateful for this opportunity and for The Cigna Group’s commitment to the communities they serve, particularly the military and Veterans’ communities.  Learn more about the many ways Cigna supports the military community.