American veterans spent time away from family and sacrificed greatly to serve their country. Many veterans struggle to acclimate back into civilian life after leaving the military. Knowing that there are businesses who appreciate the sacrifice helps them see the value in time lost with family and spent defending freedom.
There are more than 20 million U.S. veterans, representing around 10 percent of the population. However, there are many more who are family or friends of veterans or who simply support their efforts. Getting behind this cause helps veterans get back into the swing of everyday life and shows all those people you support them.
You might wonder what you can do as a business to offer your support. The following eight examples show ways you can support vets.
1. Hire Veterans
About 11 percent of the homeless population is made up of veterans. Even though they may learn special skills in the military, not all of those skills are as easy to translate into civilian jobs. Military men and women may come home having only a high school education and no vocational training. Companies can make it a point to hire veterans and open doors for them that otherwise might not open.
Lockheed Martin makes a point to hire military veterans. About one in every five of their employees is a veteran. They offer a skills translator on their website allowing vets can see which of their skills match job openings the company has. They offer Military Connect, which provides an online community giving military people tips for interviewing, and peer-to-peer support.
2. Give Back
Does your company have a charity they stand behind? Why not make it a charity that supports our vets? There are many charities out there, including ones like Wounded Warriors Project that help veterans in a variety of ways. Get employees involved, host an annual fundraiser and support the organization of your choosing.
3. Provide Information
You can serve the military by providing information about your industry and how military men and women can get involved. For example, provide a guide for how to work in the industry or how to get specialized training without spending a lot of money to do so.
Warren Cat offers an in-depth guide on how veterans can get involved in construction work and gain experience running heavy equipment. They explain the demand for skilled workers and the coming shortage in the industry of experienced construction workers. They also detail the different jobs available.
4. Show You Care
Take the time to show veterans you care about their service to the country. This might include a wall of fame in your store where you post the photo of people who come in wearing their uniforms or a special area designated just for them.
For example, some Chick-fil-A restaurants offer an empty table for fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. Also known as a “Missing Man Table,” the tradition dates back to a practice from the military where there is a table reserved for those who didn’t make it back from the lines. The table has an empty chair, place setting, a single red rose, American flag, Bible and a framed message explaining what the table means.
5. Offer a Discount
One simple way any type of business can show their support is by offering a military or veterans discount. You can make the discount any amount you want and simply ask to see a military ID in order to receive the discount.
Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee offers 30 percent off to military families on one-day admission tickets. The discount is available to active or retired military, disabled vets, reservists and their spouses. You do have to present a valid military ID at the front gate to get the discount ticket. You can’t purchase online.
6. Adopt a Troop
Your company can adopt a troop and send them care packages and letters of encouragement. Life in the military gets lonely. Even though these people aren’t technically vets yet, as they are active duty, you still work toward supporting the military.
If you want to support vets specifically, you can contact the local VFW and ask if there are any veterans who need help and adopt one or two as your special cause. Have employees who volunteer go spend time with the person and help with tasks around the house.
7. A Simple Thank You
Sometimes a simple “thank you for your service” goes a long way. Train your employees to be aware of people who come in with a uniform or are wearing a military hat or shirt and to ask them if they’ve served and then thank them for their service.
Put a sign up saying “we love our vets” to let them know you care. Little things do go a long way and even if your business can’t yet afford to offer a discount, showing appreciation is 100 percent free.
Giving Back to Those Who Gave
At the end of the day, giving back feels good and spreads goodwill in the world. Giving back to those who sacrificed for the country is a positive use of time and energy. The more people you can get involved in the process, the happier everyone will be. And you’ll encourage those who are trying to decide if they want to serve their country.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.