Whether your company employees hundreds of military veterans, a few veterans or is just now starting to attract and hire veterans, celebrating Veterans Day is a unique opportunity to enhance your commitment to supporting those who wore our Nation’s uniform.
Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11, that honors military veterans, that is, persons who served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
There are many ways to honor and celebrate the men and women in your company or community who have served in the military. Five ways your company can mark the occasion of Veterans Day 2016 would be:
- Treat them to a treat. Consider honoring and recognizing veterans at your company by hosting a lunch in their honor. Invite civilian colleagues to learn about the military experience, show their appreciation for the veteran employees’ military service and build camaraderie among the teams. Whether formal or casual, a special lunch or reception honoring your veterans shows respect and appreciation.
- Recognize them. Does your company have an internal newsletter or other forms of internal communications? Perhaps highlight the experiences of several veteran employees, showing their successful transition, emphasizing their transferrable skills (from military to their civilian careers), and their hobbies, families and interests. Such an effort not only reinforces the value veterans bring to the civilian workplace, but reminds civilian colleagues that veterans are people first, employees second.
- Share their story. With respect and sensitivity, share the story of the veterans who work for and with you. Oftentimes, civilians are intimidated to inquire about the career choice to serve in uniform, and this is an opportunity to show what military service is like, the challenges and accomplishments of your veteran employees, and the sacrifices made to ensure our Nation’s liberties. Consider sharing your veteran employees’ stories with clients, vendors and the broader community, if appropriate.
- Serve the family. When a service member commits to military service, their commitment impacts their family significantly. If the service member is married and has children, these people’s lives dramatically change as they learn to live a military lifestyle alongside their spouse and parent. For parents of service members, the decision to put on the uniform is filled with pride and fear. Honoring the families of those who serve – through events, special gifts or recognition – builds positive feelings for your veteran employees.
- Serve the community. Every community has veteran service organizations (VSOs) whose focus is to provide support to military veterans and families. These VSOs focus on issues from PTSD to suicide prevention to career transition services to temporary housing to equine therapy and everything in between. There is no shortage of organizations positively impacting the post-military life of the service member. Engaging your team in volunteering to build a house for a veteran, providing on-site coaching at a workforce center, or handing out supplies at a veteran homeless shelter brings to light the issues facing our veterans, and can raise appreciation for their service with your civilian team members.
Veterans Day is a day to honor those who’ve served our Nation. Consider the veterans you currently employ, broaden your perspective to include military spouses and families, and enlist your civilian employees in showing appreciation for the freedoms and liberties we enjoy because of the men and women who have bravely worn our country’s uniform.