Over the last 50 years, there has been a sharp decline in the relationship between the American public and the military. This can be seen most directly in the number of veterans who serve in public office. Integrating into the civilian world is not easy. One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is finding a new mission and a new community to belong to. It’s no surprise that many military vets decide to forge their own paths. One of the unique ways the military community continues their service is through entrepreneurship. By using the talents and leadership principals they learned in the military, vets tell their story through their businesses. This Veterans Day look at how you can support veteran-owned businesses.
Start by searching for local veteran-owned operations. The county I live in even has a list on the internet of local veteran-owned businesses that I produced within two minutes of searching. This microsegment within our economy does tend to produce more of an engaged clientele – when veterans find out that vets are starting a business in the area, a fierce type of loyalty and support tends to ignite. I believe most civilians would be happy to support local veterans. The divide in the relationship between civilian and military citizens has less to do with hostility and more to do with a social hesitation. Relating to each other can seem like a daunting and intimidating task, but financially contributing to a local veteran’s business is a great way to show your appreciation. If you can’t find any local vet-owned businesses to support, there are certainly several nationwide businesses that carry a host of products and subscription services that would appeal to a wide variety of customers.
Besides shopping at their businesses, one of the best ways to connect and support local veterans is through education. Today there are several popular podcasts and books authored by veterans to connect with a larger community, outside of just ranks and uniforms. Hearing stories and experiences through these types of materials highlights the human in all of us. When you start learning from more and more veterans, you realize there is much in common between civilians and service members. In fact, a lot of military leadership principles translate right into business and personal life.
Lastly, there are countless veteran charities to consider donating to. The transition into civilian life just isn’t the same for everyone, and many service members feel lonely and isolated after their separation from the military. There are many wonderful people who dedicate their time and energy helping service members who aren’t adjusting easily. It’s easy to justify supporting people who have sacrificed for all of us. A unique opportunity you may gain from supporting a charity is the chance to volunteer your time. If you don’t have extra funds to financially contribute, volunteering is a great way to get involved and help firsthand.
Like many holidays, the true identity of Veterans Day has been forgotten or overlooked by many. Years of family traditions and memories can water down the authenticity and history of any holiday. In a world where it’s harder to connect with each other, let’s find a common thread in support for our veterans. Saying “thank you for your service” is always a nice gesture, but I challenge you to turn those words into action. I hope these easy ideas for support will translate into more connections made and more relations gained.