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Veteran’s Day and nonprofits

Veteran’s Day is being celebrated in the US on Monday, November 11th. Weeks before I started to see all of the Veteran’s Day sales, and soon I’ll be seeing where I can get a free cup of coffee or even a meal on Monday. Crowds will gather at local parades and veterans will gather in small groups to speak about shared experiences.

In the nonprofit world, I’ve sometimes felt that veterans are one aspect of the community that is not included. Sure, we love veterans, appreciate their sacrifice and even go out of our way to thank them, and in our own nonprofits we sometimes forget them. I also know that not all of us love veterans, that some connect veterans to the military industrial complex, to war and to human rights abuses. To this I simply ask to treat veterans as individuals, not tied to a group or belief system.

I would love to see nonprofits be more supportive and welcoming to veterans. Here are a few ideas around that:

Become comfortable and speak about leading teams that include people who suffer from PTS.

Try to include one-on-one therapy sessions in your health care plan (as opposed to group only).

When encouraging diverse people to apply, add veterans to that line. This simple addition could let a veteran know that they at least have a chance at making it into an interview.

Honor all veterans, not just those who you may benefit from hiring. I have seen many applications that I would have to check the box of “not a veteran” because the choices offered do not include someone who served in the 80’s and 90’s.

Remember that veterans are all shapes and sizes, and I mean that literally and figuratively. We all have had different experiences and some of us carry those lived experiences different than others. War, conflict, violence, separation and loss affect people differently. Not every veteran leaves the military with the same frame of mind.

Don’t politicize veterans.

And the most important, hire veterans. Give us a chance. Our military backgrounds may not be an exact fit, and a deeper look into our experiences and how we interact in the world may benefit your organization. Looking at veterans individually, there are long lists of what one could bring to your organization.

Thank you for reading this. This veteran loves being a part of the nonprofit world. And to those of you who are also veterans, thank you.

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