“Thank you for your service” is a simple statement to veterans showing appreciation for the freedoms we all enjoy because of their sacrifices. It’s probably something you’ve said yourself and with good intentions, but it might cause more awkwardness than you think.
In fact, half of veterans feel uncomfortable with being thanked, according to a Cohen Veterans Network (CVN) poll. As a proud veteran of the Air Force Reserves, I can identify with that. I know many people who have given so much, and they are the ones deserving the gratitude, but even more importantly, they deserve our support.
While a “thank you” is a good start, the poll found that most veterans welcomed questions about their service and their job. Have a conversation with a vet and you’ll discover a diverse group of people with a broad range of interests and talents. Beyond a conversation, consider what you can do to show appreciation and make a positive impact. Just like most things in life, actions speak louder than words.
With veteran unemployment consistently at a higher rate than the general U.S. population, there’s certainly room for improvement in how we hire and work with vets after their service is over. Even vets who do find employment often report they feel underemployed and that their skills aren’t being maximized. The reality is veterans face many hurdles when seeking a job. From self-imposed doubts about what they can do to employer bias that their military skills won’t transfer to civilian jobs, there are many barriers to overcome.
Veterans acquire numerous valuable attributes through their military experience, including leadership skills, a strong work ethic, and the ability to work independently and in a team structure. All vets deserve to live a fulfilling life, and for many that includes a good job with honest pay. If you want to really make a difference for a vet or their family members, take action to help.
If you know a veteran or military spouse who is seeking work, reach out and ask to have coffee or meet for lunch. Learn about their experiences, their skills, and their aspirations. Then offer to connect them with two more people, assisting in the important networking process that helps so many people find jobs.
Next, support organizations that help veterans. Hire Heroes USA is one example, offering critical employment assistance to transitioning military families. Share these resources with the veterans you know and consider donating to them during your holiday giving.
Finally, ask your employer what they are doing to help hire more veterans. HR should be proactive about interviewing and hiring veterans to maximize their skills and support a well-rounded workplace that includes people with different life experiences. Not to mention, the tax and government incentives are a nice bonus.
Veterans Day comes once a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your support all year long. Let’s give back to those who have given so much for us. Help a vet get a job and you’ll make a big difference in their life and that of their family’s.