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This is How You Know Your Company Supports Veterans

This is what you can do to shift your company’s culture to “Veteran Friendly.”

Trevor Woods
5 min readNov 12, 2020

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Before you read on, I want to preface with something. I’m SUPER uncomfortable being recognized for my service, especially in a non-veteran crowd — Its just not me. Its funny, my wife always gets mad at me when I don’t ask for a military discount — it just feels weird to me. I feel like I’m asking for handouts because I wasn’t raised that way.

I didn’t join the Army for free handouts. I did it because I was compelled to serve my country and make something of myself. I was taught to “earn my keep.” I was raised by my grandfather in the great state of Oklahoma who took pride in his work ethic and sense of responsibility for his family. Needless to say, that rubbed off on me.

With that said, don’t let the following words seem like companies should give Veterans a free ride…like they’re owed something — they’re not. At most, companies should recognize the value a Veteran brings to the team, and leverage this value to make their organizations better.

Veterans are a asset that is foolish to waste.

Veterans Bring Value

Aside from the numerous non-profits that help veterans transition, overcome the injuries of war, and support Veterans and families, many organizations across the United States invest a significant amount of time and resources to support the Veteran community.

I’ve been a part of organizations that highly value their Veteran employees and families by investing in their professional development. They actively seek out transitioning Veterans to add them to their teams, because they understand how invaluable the soft skills and leadership they bring will help create high-performing teams and produce results. They are willing to bridge the gap created by a lack of industry experience — companies are starting to realize the benefits of this.

I’ve also been a part of organizations that seem to “honor” them by simply posting on social media or some other small semblance of support when it’s expected of them (Veterans Day) — there’s no initiative or energy expended to seek out ways to cultivate their development or create deliberate and targeted approaches to bring them in to the company.

“They actively seek out transitioning veterans to add them to their teams, because they understand how the invaluable soft skills and leadership they bring will create high-performing teams and produce results.”

Here are some signs to look for in your company’s culture that will illustrate their support for Veterans.

1. Veteran Programs

Does your organization have or partner with programs that support Veterans. A great example is Syracuse University. If you’re a transitioning Veteran I’m sure you have heard of Syracuse University’s “Onward to Opportunity (O2O)” program. This is a career skills program that provides civilian career training, professional certifications and employment services support to transitioning service members, members of the Reserves or National Guard, Veterans, and military spouses. This is one of many Veteran programs they provide in Syracuse University’s “Institute for Veterans and Military Families.”

The University I currently work for provides tuition remission for Veterans and their spouses who are employees of the University — That’s a significant investment!

The link for O2O is below.

2. Physical Spaces and Artifacts

Do they pay tribute to the Veterans of the past who’ve served in their organization or deployed in times of war via physical spaces and artifacts?

I recently took a trip to the University of Louisville during a course I was taking through the United States Army Cadet Command (USACC). During the trip, I saw numerous physical monuments and displays sprinkled around campus that paid tribute to Veterans who deployed, attended the University, and paid the ultimate sacrifice. During the trip, I felt a sense of belonging and appreciated how the University’s culture included Veterans and their sacrifices.

3. Traditions and Ceremonies

Does the organization have traditions and ceremonies that highlight Veterans or the fallen during Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and more importantly, during other holidays and organizational ceremonies that don’t traditionally highlight Veteran contributions to the nation? If your organization recognizes Veterans during Veteran’s Day, that’s great. But, do they highlight their contributions during Christmas, Thanksgiving, and other holiday events. Many organizations continually voice and display gratitude year-around. They understand the sacrifices service members pay allow them to enjoy the holidays with their families every year.

4. Hiring Practices

What percentage of its employee are Veterans?

Companies like Lockheed Martin and the Union Pacific Railroad are just a couple that have a Veteran population that comprises anywhere from 20% to 36% of the employee population. They’ve made financial investments in hiring programs and initiatives that target transitioning service members. They also have Veterans in Senior Leader positions because they recognize that Military senior leaders thrive in times of chaos — they’re problem solvers and understand how to lead strategically.

5. Do they give back?

Does the organization give back to Veteran organizations or Veterans in the community? This takes Veteran support to another level — compassion. When we transition from empathy to compassion, we’ve made the decision to invest time and energy into the success of another, for no other reason but to help them overcome obstacles and times of difficulty.

Compassion is the ultimate way to support a veteran.

What You Can Do to Affect Your Company’s Culture

If you’re a Veteran in an organization that doesn’t value Veterans the way you think they should, you can do a few things to shift the culture in the desired direction.

Make referrals. Over time, leaders within the organization will understand the value Veterans bring.

Plan an event during Veteran’s day that will highlight Veterans that work within your organization. My organization does a breakfast on Veteran’s Day that brings vets together for fellowship. We set-up a POW/MIA display that usually elicits conversation. What a great way to destroy bias or misconceptions about Veterans.

Lastly, you can plan an event within the community that helps Vets — Make sure you give the organization the credit — they’ll like that, and will probably want to do it every year, especially if it gets them good press ; )

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Trevor Woods

I’m a Father, Husband, and Veteran. I write about Personal Growth, Mental Health, and Careers!