Ways you can show veterans and their families grace
Help veterans find their voice, advocate until then.
- Show them when it’s ok to say no in the civilian workforce.
- Give them a variety times and spaces to express themselves in healthy ways.
- Organize spaces and places where veterans can feel safe to talk about their needs
In the workplace
- Don’t use criticism, if necessary use constructively be clear on objective at hand (chances are they are beating themselves for things they’ve never spoken about.) I can also guarantee you their drill sergeant is still in their head.
- Use onboarding process to set initial goals and expectations. Do not move goal post without clear warning and as a bonus give time for individual to process the change. Some individuals may not need much time at all, others may be plagued with anxiety due to a change in their environment
- Positive reinforcement should be well-timed, intentional, and done regularly
- Family has to be number one priority for military spouses they often are expected to manage the household alone
- Read and listen to understand the negative and positive impacts of domestic duties on stay at home parents. Don’t stop there, when you’re finished, read and listen to understand the negative and positive impacts on military spouses
- Be kind
- Research, attend workshops, and talk about the complexities of military life so that we can make sure workplaces are successful environments for military and their families
- Consult a veterans committee or board before implementing new expectations in the workplace. This is to make sure it is beneficial to the service member or their spouse. Believe them when they give you feedback.
- Get out together Coffee, Breakfast, Car rides
- Meet virtually when there’s distance. Make a visit if you can when you can
- Set clear and firm boundaries from the start then be consistent. Do not ignore or excuse abusive talk or behaviors.
- Let them change and evolve as they learn and grow
- Include them in group outings even if you know they won’t want to go
- Be intentional and mindful
So let’s recap: Suicide among our service members is disproportionately high, employment among our military spouses is disproportionately low. We have community organizations committed to ensuring the success of our service members. And we have to do that without causing burnout in those organizations or we will exasperate the problem.
I close with this, until military suicide subsides and military spouses are equally employed, it is imperative that we show our service members and their families grace inside and outside of the workplace. In order for organizations to truly support and solve these two problems, the entire network must work together to avoid the devastating effects of burnout.