With Memorial Day on Monday here in the USA I’ve been thinking about what it is and the people that are a central part of it: the men and women of the military and their families. We talk about a lot of different topics as part of our conversations about business, and I wanted to make sure that we talk about this topic that’s really important to me and to so many people I know. If you don’t have someone in your family in the military now you probably have in the past or are close with someone who does. I know it’s not for everyone and isn’t an easy decision for those who join the service or their families. But whether they serve for a year or for several decades, when they leave active duty and rejoin the rest of us the question of “what next” comes up. As we think about Memorial Day on Monday and the Fourth of July just a few weeks away I want to encourage you as a business owner to strongly consider how you can support the veteran community and if hiring veterans is the right thing for your business.
Let’s start with the unquestionable pros. Veterans come from the rigorous training of the military, they have had lots of experience with leadership, know what it is to be a leader, have learned how to work in high pressure situations, have lots of cultural experience that could help them relate with your customers, are thorough, are willing to go the distance and know the value of just showing up. They’re also good at setting a good example for others and team building.
The most obvious concern about hiring a veteran is that they may have PTSD or physical challenges as a result of their service. I don’t believe that should be a reason not to hire them. Instead it’s an opportunity for us to be a little flexible with them and work with them rather than against them. Maybe it means that you have to let them bring their therapy dog with them. Maybe they can only work a few hours a day or come in an hour or two later. Maybe they need extra training or visible reminders of how to do things. What you see as obstacles don’t have to be, it just means that we all have to be a little more supportive and ask them how we can help them do their best work for us. And going the distance for your veteran employees may do wonders for your other employees too.
Whether or not you’re able to hire a veteran, there are lots of other ways you can support them through your business like offering discounts to veterans, donating to charity events that support veterans like 5k’s and food drives, and donating a portion of your profits to veteran organizations. How will you support veterans this Memorial Day?