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Nov 11

Honoring Veterans 365 Days a Year

Though it has become commonplace for civilians to thank military members in uniform for their service, a deeper acknowledgement and appreciation of veterans’ sacrifices and experiences occur with far less frequency.

At a certain level, it is difficult for those who have not served in one of the five Armed Forces to truly understand the life or death decisions that have to be made in an eye-blink, often with irreversible consequences. Or to appreciate the difficult responsibility of letting parents know their young soldier is not coming home again. Or to know what it means to train for months and years to become part of a team of people who will put their own lives on the line to keep each other out of harm’s way and achieve the intended mission.

At a certain level, it is difficult for those who have not served in one of the five Armed Forces to truly understand the life or death decisions that have to be made in an eye-blink, often with irreversible consequences.

Is it any wonder that, upon separation from military service, many veterans feel as though they have been left alone on an island, uncertain about their own next steps? It takes more than the offer of a job or a “thank you” on Veteran’s Day to truly honor service members no longer wearing the uniform.

It takes more than the offer of a job or a “thank you” on Veteran’s Day to truly honor service members no longer wearing the uniform.

Here is how you can make a difference in the life of a transitioning veteran:

 

  1. Become a mentor. Listen to concerns, be a sounding board, provide guidance and remain a solid presence in the veteran’s life; don’t abandon ship once the vet has landed a job.
  2. As an employer, once you hire a veteran, make sure your on-boarding program goes beyond the typical administrative focus on leave policies. Give the individual time to meet co-workers, ask questions, learn the overall agency/corporate mission and understand the new culture.
  3. The sooner you can engage the veteran as a contributing member of a productive team, the smoother the workplace transition will be, regardless of rate or rank.
  4. Find ways to engage veterans in the community. Nonprofit organizations will find that veterans, on the whole, have much to contribute as board members, hands-on volunteers and in other capacities. Take the time to connect with veterans and let them know their time, expertise and engagement is truly welcome.
  5. Remind the veterans you know that you “have their six.” Whether you are a family member, friend, relative or neighbor, let transitioning veterans know you are ready to look out for them and their families in whatever way you are able.

Let’s show our veterans that honoring their service to country is what we do 365 days a year; let them know they are not alone in their journey back to civilian life.

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