Georgia businesses respond to Veteran needs with on-brand models of caring
Veterans Day offers us an opportunity to pause and remember not only the heroic sacrifices of our servicemen and women but also prompts us to focus on the vast needs they face as a result of their service. From re-training skills for civilian employment, adapting to living conditions with physical wounds, or addressing invisible wounds that can lead to mental health issues and unsettling rates of suicide – the vast needs of veterans are year-round.
Many companies in Georgia spend 365 days supporting veterans with on-brand strategies that utilize their unique business assets. No two ways are alike, and all are immensely valuable models for a long-term commitment that lives beyond a day of recognition.
Providing housing and supplies
Veterans are a key focus for The Home Depot. Its Foundation’s outreach works to impact three specific focus areas: combat-wounded, homeless and/or aging veterans. It has invested more than $375 million in veteran causes, providing critical home repairs and mortgage-free smart homes for senior and combat-wounded veterans and more than $100 million in support of ending veteran homelessness.
Addressing invisible wounds and mental health
Clothing company Eighth Order and retailer Tanger Outlets join The Home Depot in addressing the invisible wounds of war, including supporting the veteran programs at Zac Brown’s Camp Southern Ground in Fayetteville, GA. The organization cites that since 9/11 the U.S. has lost more warriors to suicide at home than on the battlefield, and the suicide rate has grown every year since 2002. Camp Southern Ground’s veterans’ programs are rooted in the science of Post-traumatic Growth (PTG) retraining men and women to build on past trauma to grow in a life of strength and purpose.
Re-skilling for post-service careers
UPS offers a broad range of benefits and programs including counseling programs, a Veteran Business Resource Group, and Military Skillbridge, a 12-week intern program for service members who are re-skilling for post-service careers.
The company also has a supplemental pay program for all guard and reserve members who deploy in support of their military duties. When a UPS employee is called up to perform military duties as a guard or reservist and their military pay is less than what they make at UPS, UPS pays the difference. This protects the family from undue stress caused by the difference in pay and benefits.
Designing veteran specific employee engagement programs
Cox Enterprises supports the veterans they recruit and hire with Salute, an enterprise-wide Employee Resource Group (ERG). Salute focuses on veterans and current military personnel and their families. Currently, Salute has 1,229 members who are actively involved. For example, active members of the military and their families can now enjoy a new and improved USO Center at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport thanks to a grant from the James M. Cox Foundation and the leadership of members of Cox’s Salute ERG.
The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation administers the Overwatch Fund, led by associates across the Atlanta Falcons, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United and the PGA TOUR Superstore who are veterans of the U.S. Military or have close personal or family connections to service. The Fund’s mission is to empower Georgia veterans and their families to live purposeful and meaningful lives by connecting them to post-service OPS: Opportunities, Purpose, and Support.
The Home Depot Foundation’s annual service campaign, Operation Surprise, launches on Veterans Day and provides life-changing moments of surprise and support for U.S. military veterans. The Foundation works with its nonprofit partners and Team Depot, The Home Depot’s associate volunteer force, to execute hundreds of nationwide volunteer projects that paint a brighter future for communities in need.
Offering discounts and special invitations
Low-cost implementations can boost awareness and spread appreciation for servicemembers’ sacrifice. This is the 10th consecutive year Atlanta-based CentraArchy Restaurants CEO Vince Van Brunt has invited veterans and active-duty members in for special deals. Approximately 101,568 heroes have enjoyed his offer so far at Joey D’s Oak Room and New York Prime restaurants.
Whether a business can offer one internship, invest in underlying mental and physical needs, or simply fly the flag proudly this Veteran’s Day, the role of business in supporting our nation’s brave service-members and veterans is a powerful one.