Observing Veterans Day in the office is a key way to appreciate veterans, active military members, and support the families and friends of those who served.
Many people in the United States have a personal connection to veterans or military families.
However, it’s important to remember that employees may have diverse experiences and emotions during Veterans Day. As you honor veterans' service and sacrifices, it's crucial to recognize the complex emotions this observance can evoke.
By laying the foundation for a supportive culture that acknowledges various perspectives, participating in Veterans Day can be an opportunity to foster understanding and unity among team members. In this article, you’ll learn how to cultivate empathy, inclusivity, and meaningful recognition by celebrating Veterans Day at work. The sections in this guide include:
What is Veterans Day, and when is it observed?
The origins of Veterans Day date back to November 11, 1918, when World War I fighting ceased. November 11 was called Armistice Day and was observed in honor of those who died during the war.
Twenty years later, in 1938, Armistice Day was declared a legal holiday. In 1954, the observance was renamed Veterans Day by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it became a holiday to honor the patriotism and sacrifices of all American veterans and service members.
Today, Veterans Day is still celebrated on November 11.
Why should you celebrate Veterans Day in the workplace?
Although there are various ways for individuals to commemorate Veterans Day in the community and on their own time, by celebrating it in the workplace you will offer your employees:
A chance to honor the veterans on your team. There are 16.5 million veterans in the U.S., many of whom may be employed or related to someone who works at your company. Show appreciation for your colleagues who are veterans or veteran family members by acknowledging their service as a team.
A chance to honor the complex emotions that many employees may be experiencing on Veterans Day. Establish a company culture of support by intentionally and respectfully discussing the diverse perspectives, experiences, and feelings surrounding Veterans Day. For example, while some employees may feel pride, others may feel sadness, grief, or anger. It’s important for employers to allow space for these emotions.
Opportunities to get engaged around an impact area employers may be connected to. Provide employees with a social impact or volunteer event that serves a “close to home” cause, as many Americans have either served themselves or know someone who has served.
Veterans Day can be a gateway to addressing other important topics. By establishing a time to discuss the many ways veterans need community support, you will also be able to delve into diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB), mental health, and disability inclusion topics.
A way of serving those in need in their community. Many veterans are underserved across the United States. They face higher rates of mental illness (up to 20% of veterans experience PTSD), homelessness (13% of the homeless adult population are veterans), and substance dependence (70% of homeless veterans have substance abuse problems). Support this vulnerable population by participating in give-back experiences that make a meaningful impact.
6 meaningful ways to honor Veterans Day at work
Explore the following creative, meaningful, and enriching Visit.org social impact experiences to support veterans and active troops, which include Veterans Day volunteering opportunities. Every Visit.org experience is created with and benefits a global nonprofit partner.
Thank service members. Show your support for deployed troops, veterans, wounded heroes, caregivers, and recruit graduates by sharing messages of gratitude by writing heartfelt thank you letters.
Support veterans experiencing homelessness. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 40,000 individuals experiencing homelessness are veterans. Make a difference in your community by assembling kits filled with essentials to help vulnerable veterans improve their wellbeing.
Help veterans heal from trauma. Give the gift of healing to combat veterans through the power of creative songwriting. Alongside hit songwriters from Nashville, veterans on your team can write about the veteran experience, giving them the tools to heal from the unseen wounds of war.
Support veteran healthcare. Learn about the challenges that veterans without shelter experience. Together with your team and a nonprofit partner, you can pack dental care kits for veterans that can address critical needs.
Gift veterans handmade items. Gifts can be a physical representation of your gratitude. Together with your team, you can handcraft bracelets made of paracord, which can be included in care packages sent to deployed troops and first responders. Paracord is a multi-functional material that has many survival uses.
Help veterans transition to civilian jobs. After service, the transition from active duty to the workforce can be jarring, to say the least. Together with your team, you can provide veterans access to tools and coaching that can help military personnel in their next career.
Activate your employees with Veterans Day volunteer opportunities
There are many opportunities for companies to show support for former or current service members on their team and throughout the community. How you celebrate Veterans Day at work can help cement a culture of empathy, inclusivity, and meaningful recognition.
By starting from a position of support that both emphasizes solidarity and embraces a spectrum of perspectives, commemorating Veterans Day with employee volunteering opportunities can become a pathway to a healthy and harmonious work environment.
Learn more about celebrating Veterans Day with your employees by scheduling a Visit.org demo.