Ways to Support Your Veterans with Your Small Business
Did you know that Texas has more veterans than any other state? This might be due to close proximity to family and friends, outlets for recreation, more privacy, or a lower cost of living. However, no matter where you live, returning to “normal” life after being on active duty can be challenging. As a small business in the local community, here are a few ways you can help support your veterans while working to keep those doors open post-pandemic.
One of the best ways to support veterans is to have employment opportunities available. As a small business, it can be hard to keep full-time employees; this is true in retail and any other customer service-based occupation, especially in the post-pandemic landscape.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, nearly 80% of small businesses say it’s important to focus on hiring veterans, but only 10% actually actively recruit these potential employees. Veterans tend to have skills in a multitude of areas - not just those stereotypically from being in the military. Computer skills, being able to work independently, and organization are skill sets you may be looking for in a new hire.
Plus, since veterans are accustomed to being on active duty, their work ethic is often unmatched. In times when it can be hard to find people who want to work, these potential employees can really help turn your business around! While there are plenty of resources that previous service members can use, sometimes it’s the local work that can draw the most interest.
Make Resources Available
While veterans may have the VA available, they are not the only resource that can provide tips and advice for settling back into civilian life. Right inside your store is a great place to make resources available, to both veteran and non-veteran employees. Making their place of work a safe space to learn and provide references is key to keeping great employees. This can be related to physical health, mental health, or anything else.
Past exposure to toxic chemicals, amputation in the line of duty, and loss of certain senses are all potential hazards while active in the military. These types of physical health concerns are dealt with through numerous treatments, rehabilitation, and potential sensory aids.
For example, nearly a third of patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, a rare lung disease, are veterans who have been exposed to asbestos while either training or on duty. This could be due to machinery used, barracks that were lived in, or any specialty that a service member could have been in. Luckily, there are plenty of resources for potential mesothelioma patients in Texas, including treatment options, alternative treatments, and local doctors that can help in such cases.
Physical amputations and the need for rehabilitation are other examples of physical constraints that may occur due to time in the service. Often, there are vocational programs that can help those that are seeking jobs find one that fits their skill set, while still allowing for the opportunity to participate in rehab for potential loss of limbs, mental distress, or other issues that may have stemmed from active duty. Amputees typically require physical therapy and might need more time off than other employees, so providing additional leave time or access to those resources when necessary can make them feel more comfortable at the job.
Mental Health and Wellness
Mental health can be one of the most difficult things to recover completely after being in service. If you do have any employees who are veterans or maybe in service right now, it’s important that you have resources available to help them through these transitions back to civilian life. A study done in 2020 shows that nearly 75% of veterans have experienced some form of PTSD since 9/11 as a result of being on active duty at some point in their service.
PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, can result from any sort of traumatic event but can be seen in high numbers of veterans. Treatment often includes experimental therapy like outdoor or art, along with meditation and support groups.
Veterans are also more likely to deal with other issues like depression and anxiety than the average population. While there are mental health services for these veterans and their families, there are also local groups available too. The Texas branch of NAMI, or the National Alliance of Mental Illness, provides a free 6-session program for family members and individuals relating to everything from transitioning to civilian life to PTSD.
The VA is also available in similar cases, but knowing that you have people in your community that can help your employees can help make their own adjustment to work a little easier.
Having work that is accessible for any type of health concern is helpful for maintaining employees, regardless of their military status. However, resources like the GI Bill, Veteran Educational Assistance Program (VEAP), or Veteran Career Resource Division can help veterans gain training, apprenticeships in your business’s field, or certificate programs that can make them more valuable as workers.
Sometimes, just making these resources known can be the step that many need to take action and feel like they can make their next leaps into civilian life.
Create In-Store Support
Sometimes smaller gestures make the biggest difference. You can work directly with your local chamber of commerce to connect with other businesses that have already created in-store support or set up events to help support veterans. Small gestures can make the biggest difference.
With a large population of veterans, Texas is full of great resources to help support those around you — through educational programs, donations, or even just making resources attainable by veterans who may be just out of service. In fact, some of these individuals may have been your own classmates or previous co-workers. Just asking around can help you come up with great ideas to not only draw traffic to your small business but help your own community members.
Another great option is volunteering as a small business with veteran-owned or veteran-based services. Often, there are non-profits in local communities that focus on helping veterans after their service, whether it’s getting an education, a job, or maybe just setting up their families for success. Working with your chamber of commerce, veteran memorials in the area, or the like can make huge strides in what they can provide for veterans and their families as they readjust to a new normal.
No matter what type of business your running, whether it’s a pilates studio or plumbing services, supporting the veterans in your community doesn’t have to be a giant feat. Often, small changes like offering resources, or helping the surrounding community can make the most difference to those around you.