Many companies make a special effort to acknowledge Women’s History Month, or African American/Native American/Hispanic American History Month – often with celebrations, or posters acknowledging those groups’ contributions to the culture and diversity of the organization. Yet, when Veterans Day rolls around…companies are strangely silent. Let’s chalk that up to an assumption that companies want to acknowledge their veterans – but have no idea what to do.

This year Congress passed a resolution (http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/nvaw.asp) designating the week of November 9-15 as “National Veteran Awareness Week” to emphasize the need to develop educational programs regarding the contributions of veterans to the country. So, how can companies use that time to have an awareness program of their own?

In the next paragraphs I’ll give you some ideas for things you can do and resources you can use, and then I’ll tie it all back in to how this can impact your veteran recruiting efforts.

  1. Visit The Department of Veterans Affairs website (http://www1.va.gov/opa/vetsday/index.asp). From there you can download the official 2008 Veterans Day poster for printing or inclusion in presentations. Have a bunch of posters printed and displayed prominently in your work place.
  2. If your company has a Veteran Affinity Group (sometime called a Diversity Group or Networking Group, etc.) – and I hope you do have one – ask the group leader if any members would like to contribute some basic background information about their time in service and a related photo from “back in the day”. Take those stories and photos and make posters which can be displayed along side the Veterans Day posters. Most employees have no idea they work alongside a veteran, and if they do, they don’t really understand what that person does/did in the military. They may be surprised to discover that the mild-mannered accountant in the next cubicle flew rescue missions in a helicopter, or brought medical help and supplies to an earthquake-ravaged country. Or, that the young lady who works in employee benefits administration used to repair large satellite systems or drove a 5-ton truck filled with repair parts across the desert.
  3. Volunteer members of your Veterans Affinity Group to local schools for the “Take a Veteran To School” program. The History Channel (http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=mini_home&mini_id=54799) has great ideas for how to work with the schools to administer this program, and has teacher resources as well (if the school is not familiar with the program). The Department of Veterans Affairs website has teacher guides and student guides, too.
  4. The History Channel is also championing “Thank a Vet at Work” (http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=Minisite_Generic&content_type_id=60604&display_order=2&mini_id=54799) this year. From the site you can order 100 colorful stickers that say “thank you” to your veterans. Distribute them in your workplace or hand them out at community events (like the schools program, mentioned above).
  5. Acknowledge their service directly, preferably by letter signed by a senior leader of the company if you know who your veteran-employees are by name and mailing address. In addition, sending out an email (also signed by a senior leader of the company) to the entire workforce acknowledging veterans and their contributions to the company is a great way to raise awareness.
  6. One client of mine has a different diversity group host a networking event each month at their company. For Veterans Day this year their Veteran Affinity Group is hosting a modified “Dining In” event, which is a very traditional event with special meaning to military members. They are hosting this event to expose their colleagues to the culture and traditions of the military, and to show how the military uses events like Dining Ins to build camaraderie.

Now, how do these actions tie to improving your veteran recruiting efforts?

  • Photos of the community events your veteran-employees support can be used in your veteran-specific recruiting materials and on your veteran-landing page on your career website (you do have those, don’t you?)
  • Your veteran-employees who take part in these events and who have been recognized during the appreciation week can relate how supportive your company is of veterans when he/she is assisting with military career fair recruiting events (you are bringing them along to these events, yes?)

Has your company done something special to recognize its veteran-employees? Feel free to comment below – I’d love to hear about it.

Posted by Lisa Rosser, Author of and Speaker/Workshop Leader on The Value Of a Veteran(TM): The Guide for Human Resource Professionals to Regarding, Recruiting, and Retaining Military Veterans


2 Responses to “Veterans Day is Wednesday, November 11th – How is Your Company Planning to Remember your Veteran-Employees?”

  1. Brenda Murdough

    My daughter created this video to help honor our Wounded warriors and posted to You Tube , but I hope to include it and other video in our webpage rememberance for Veterans Day. You can view it at
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddIgGUrgGRA
    Thanks to all who have served.

    Brenda Murdough MSN, RN-C
    Coordinator of the Military/Veterans Initiative
    American Pain Foundation
    bmurdough@painfoundation.org
    A United Voice of Hope and Power Over Pain
    Combined Federal Campaign Designation Code: 22290

    Satellite Office:
    23 Acrebrook Road
    Keene, New Hampshire 03431

    APF Headquarters
    201 N. Charles Street, Suite 710
    Baltimore, Maryland 21201-4222
    P: 410-7837292
    http://www.painfoundation.org

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