RECOGNITION AND RESPECT
Veterans Day is one of those Federal Holidays where American workers are elated for the long weekend, but when asked why we have the day off, the majority may give creative answers that don’t exactly capture the intent of the day. While this makes for entertaining late night TV skits, it provides a prime opportunity for management to seize the spirit of the holiday!
Recent statistics from the Department of Veterans Affairs (the VA) show that 0.7% of Americans are currently serving in the military, and that only 10% of the entire American population are Veterans. In 2021, the following numbers were estimated for Veterans by era, noting that some served in multiple eras, but were only counted once for the first era they served in:
- 240,000 WWII era Veterans
- 933,000 Korea era Veterans
- 5.9 million Vietnam era Veterans
- 7.8 million Gulf War era Veterans (1990-present)
MAKE IT A TRADITION
The numbers above decrease each year with age attrition and therefore it is NEVER too late to start a tradition of honoring Veterans in our workplace. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 Veteran or 200, they all deserve a moment of recognition for the sacrifices they have made, and were willing to make, in order to keep our nation secure and citizens free.
SHOWING YOUR ORGANIZATION CARES
Looking for some ideas on how your organization can honor and respect Veterans? Look no further. We asked the experts here at Veterans ASCEND (our own Veterans) and here are some of the great ideas that they came up with:
- A HEARTFELT THANK YOU company-wide email from the CEO and/or Founder honoring the Veterans on staff, with a short personal reflection of Veterans Day. This can include a listing of Veterans by name and service affiliation so that staff can personally reach out and thank the Veterans if they wish.
- START A MONTHLY VETERANS “GET TOGETHER” where Veterans can visit and support each other. Bonus points if you supply coffee, tea, and/or energy drinks for the meet-ups (the relationship of military members and caffeine is a well-known love affair).
- HOST A BRUNCH OR LUNCH FOR VETERANS, where they are honored and others can learn about their experiences. Think: catered meal by a local restaurant that is planned in advance; not a last-minute fast-food delivery service.
- TAKE A GROUP PHOTO OF ALL THE VETERANS in front of your branding and post it to your organization’s social media with #HonoringOurVeterans
- CREATE AN “HONORING OUR VETERANS” THEMED BULLETIN BOARD. Ahead of Veterans Day, request copies of photos from the Veterans showing them in uniform to post on a common-area bulletin board, with their name and branch of service. Why not go the extra mile and add “thank you for your service” notes from staff members.
- MAKE IT A COMPETITION. Using the old photos on the bulletin board mentioned above, can also be used for a “Guess Who’s Who” game where staff members guess who each person is, and the first person to get all of them correct wins.
- HOST A VETERAN BINGO. Create Bingo Cards with the names of the Veterans in your workplace, and then staff must go and find the Veterans on their card and find out the “designated fun fact” about them to mark them on their card. First one with a complete row wins. This also is a great “ice breaker” for staff members that do not normally interact with each other.
- LET THE VETERANS CREATE A SCAVENGER HUNT. Get your Veterans together and let them create a list of items for staff teams to complete or find using only military jargon. First team to complete wins. Fun example would be: “Find some go fasters, double time it to the gedunk, and bring back some podgey bait to the head shed” or “Find the zoomie with the biggest fruit salad for the next clue.”
- CONDUCT A “CAKE CUTTING.” This tradition stems from service branch birthdays where the oldest and youngest Veterans present cut a cake together with the boss. The boss will hand the cut piece to the oldest Veteran who will take the first bite and pass the plate to the youngest Veteran to signify the passing on of experience and knowledge. This would be an interesting way of sharing a little bit of military tradition, and everybody gets cake, win-win!