November is National Veterans and Military Families Month. This resource is a starting point for DEI leaders and employers to support and recognize military families in the workplace. Learn how your organization can recognize National Veterans and Military Families Month.
National Veterans and Military Families Month recognizes the sacrifices and contributions of family members of those who have served and are currently serving in the military. You may employ military spouses and the parents and children of military members. By better understanding this population and the unique challenges they face, you can find meaningful ways to offer support and help them build long-term careers at your organization. The month of November is a great time to focus on your company’s initiatives for military-affiliated employees and celebrate their contributions.
Use the quick navigation links below to jump ahead to a specific topic:
- The History of National Veterans and Military Families Month
- Why National Veterans and Military Families Month Is Important
- How National Veterans and Military Families Month Is Traditionally Celebrated
- Employee Considerations for National Veterans and Military Families Month
- How to Recognize National Veterans and Military Families Month at Work
- TED Talks and Documentaries to Watch
- Books to Read
- Podcasts to Listen to
- Guest Speakers
- How Companies Are Celebrating National Veterans and Military Families Month
- Additional Resources
The History of National Veterans and Military Families Month
You may still be wondering: What is National Veterans and Military Families Month? National Veterans and Military Families Month was established as a month of acknowledgment for the contributions and sacrifices made by military families. Not to be confused with National Military Appreciation Month, which is observed in May and celebrates those who serve and have served in the military, National Veterans and Military Families Month recognizes those in supporting roles for service members and veterans, including spouses, children, and caregivers.
National Veterans and Military Families Month, also referred to as “military families month” or “military family appreciation month,” was established in 1996 by the Armed Services YMCA and the U.S. government. Each year, the month is initiated by a presidential proclamation.
Also in November:
- November 11 — Veterans Day
Why National Veterans and Military Families Month Is Important
In President Biden’s 2021 proclamation, he notes, “Our veteran and military families do so much and ask for little. They are strong and adaptable, changing course to accommodate the needs of our country, often foregoing personal wishes. They are capable and proud, holding down the home front during their loved one’s deployments, coping through their absence and the risk of danger, and helping them readjust when they come home.”
It is important to take time to recognize the sacrifices that military families have made. It’s also an opportunity for companies to consider how they can better support military families in the workplace. For instance, the military spouse population has had an unemployment rate of 22% over the past decade, reflecting the challenges of frequent moves across the country. By comparison, the overall unemployment rate measured between 3% and 15% over the same time period. Also, 90% of military spouses agree that their careers have suffered negative impacts due to the military.
Here are several other data points to note:
- There are about 1 million military spouses, among which 87% are female.
- Forty-nine percent of military spouses have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 37.9% of all adults in the U.S., age 25 and older.
- A 2021 survey found that, throughout the previous 12 months, 28% of military families had a permanent change of station (PCS) move, and 74% had their spouse deployed for more than 30 days.
- Finding employment ranks as the number one issue for spouses after a PCS move.
How National Veterans and Military Families Month Is Traditionally Celebrated
National Veterans and Military Families Month is traditionally celebrated by telling the stories of military families and acknowledging their contributions and sacrifices. Businesses often give discounts to customers who are veterans, military members, and military family members.
National Veterans and Military Families Month Employee Considerations
While this month offers an opportunity to shine a light on your military-affiliated employees, before sharing their stories or recognizing them publicly, be sure to get their approval. For the safety and security of their loved ones, there are many instances when specific details are unable to be shared, such as a military member’s location during deployment, their date of return, or even aspects of their job. Also, be mindful that certain topics may be emotionally sensitive to discuss, such as the loss of a friend or family member during service, navigating a loved one’s battle with PTSD, and other hardships. Allow your military-affiliated employees to guide the conversation, and respect when they prefer not to discuss certain parts of their military life.
How to Recognize National Veterans and Military Families Month at Work
Start an employee resource group (ERG). If you don’t have an ERG dedicated to veterans, military members, military spouses, and military family members, consider starting one this month. Ensure that this ERG is inclusive to all employees who are military-affiliated and not only those who have served. Given the many challenges of military life — deployments and temporary duty assignments (TDYs), PCS moves, living far away from family, career continuity — and the unique scenarios that arise day to day, establishing a group where military-affiliated employees feel understood and supported can help them develop a strong sense of belonging at your company. (Looking for an example to get started? Bank of America’s Military Support and Assistance Group (MSAG) offers community support and resources for its members and hosts quarterly meetings for military spouses.)
Organize an event. This could be a team or company-wide lunch during which a few of your military ERG members share their experiences and answer employees’ questions. Ensure all employees can interact in a safe space where everyone feels included.
Volunteer or raise donations for a local military-affiliated organization. National organizations to consider donating to that support military families include Blue Star Families, National Military Family Association, Fisher House Foundation, and Operation Homefront. Each of these organizations is a four-star-rated charity by Charity Navigator.
Develop new workplace initiatives in support of military family members. Consider ways your organization can be more accessible to military-affiliated employees and job candidates. Options include enabling remote work or offering additional paid time off for PCS moves. Also consider developing returnship and fellowship programs for military spouses, apprenticeships for military members transitioning to civilian work, and a recruitment strategy for military veterans and spouses.
Share employees’ stories. If your military-affiliated employees are willing to share their stories, consider publishing articles or Q&As on your company’s internal communications channels or external blogs and social media accounts. This is a great way to acknowledge and celebrate them throughout the month while helping your entire workforce gain a greater understanding of military family life.
Host workshops. Bring in a professional to speak about military life and the challenges military-affiliated employees face in order to build a more inclusive environment. You may also consider hosting a workshop specifically for your recruiting team and hiring managers on strategies to recruit, support, and retain military spouses and veterans, especially if it aligns with your company’s DEI hiring goals.
Choose a TED Talk or documentary to discuss. Recommend it at the start of the month, and hold a team meeting or panel discussion on the topic toward the end of the month.
(A note on media recommendations: Our editorial team has done its best to vet each inclusion; however, please consider previewing any media asset you plan to recommend to your employees, such as a particular podcast episode, to ensure it avoids discussion of political viewpoints or topics inappropriate for the workplace.)
Here are a few TED Talks to consider:
- Author, speaker, and military wife Laura Briggs discusses “Solving America’s Military Spouse Employment Crisis” (2022)
- In a virtual conversation, consultant and veteran Navy spouse Flossie Hall talks about “Military Spouse Employment, Why it’s a National Crisis” (2022)
- Former Marine and founder of Veteran Enhanced Technology Solutions Brian O’Connor offers advice on “How to Successfully Transition from Military to Civilian Life” (2019)
- Attorney, consultant, and retired military spouse Reda Hicks provides insights into military family life in “Answer Your Call to Serve” (2018)
Here are a few documentaries to consider:
- “Father Soldier Son” (2020; available on Netflix)
- “To Love & Support: The American Military Spouse” (2015; available on Tubi)
- “A Walk in My Shoes: Military Life” (2013; available on YouTube)
Start a book club. There is a vast selection of books that recognize military members, veterans, and their families. Recommending a few options is a great way for your employees to gain a better understanding of what military life is like and the challenges military families face. Choose a book at the start of the month so your team has time to finish it before a month-end discussion.
Books to Read for National Veterans and Military Families Month
- “Thank You for Your Service,” by David Finkel (2013)
- “Spouse Calls: Messages From a Military Life,” by Terri Barnes (2014)
- “Be Safe, Love Mom,” by Elaine Lowry Brye (2016)
- “The Knock at the Door,” by Ryan Manion, Heather Kelly, and Amy Looney Heffernan (2019)
- “Soldier Girls,” by Helen Thorpe (2015)
- “The Things They Cannot Say,” by Kevin Sites (2013)
Podcasts for National Veterans and Military Families Month
- Air Force veteran, military spouse, and mom Amanda Huffman shares her own experiences and the experiences of other women veterans and active-duty military members in the weekly podcast, Women of the Military.
- Each episode of The American MilSpouse shares the unique story of a military spouse, including the challenges of moves, deployments, parenting, and navigating a career.
- The Military Family Research Institute at Purdue University hosted a podcast series to share firsthand accounts of military family life, as well as research conducted by the organization. While no longer in production, the podcast’s archives detail the experiences of military families, spouses, and children.
Guest Speakers for National Veterans and Military Families Month
- Deshauna Barber is the vice chair of the Service Women’s Action Network, a former captain in the U.S. Army Reserve, and former Miss USA. She has spoken on topics such as women’s empowerment in male-dominated industries, overcoming adversity as a minority in the Army, and how corporations can give back to military families and veterans.
- Jamie Chapman is a military spouse and a former U.S. military member who has trained large enterprises on recruiting, hiring, and retaining military spouses.
- Joe Gerstandt is a diversity and inclusion strategist, keynote speaker, and former infantry leader in the U.S. Marine Corps. Co-author of “Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships,” Gerstandt has conducted diversity and inclusion training and program design for Fortune 100 companies, and he has written for publications such as the Workforce Diversity Network, Diversity Executive, and HR Executive.
How Companies Are Celebrating National Veterans and Military Families Month
This year and in previous years:
- Throughout the month of November, as well as year-round, The Walt Disney Company puts a spotlight on the stories of military veterans and military spouses who work for the company through its initiatives Reimagine Tomorrow and Heroes Work Here. The latter provides learning and development information for veterans and military spouses, career transition resources, and more.
- Troy University waived application fees during the month of November (2022) for military members, veterans, and their family members. The university has a strong commitment to making higher education feasible for military members and their families through its 50% tuition scholarship and other initiatives.
- In 2022, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration featured a Q&A with Dr. Roxana Delgado, who shared her personal experiences as a military family member and caregiver and offered advice on how to support military family members.
- Travelers hosts events through its Military/Veterans & Allies Diversity Network to show appreciation for the company’s military-affiliated employees. This year on November 2, the company has a booth at the Hire Heroes USA Virtual Career Fair, a free event for transitioning service members, veterans, and military spouses.
- Comcast NBCUniversal proudly touts its military hiring initiatives, in-kind giving to support military communities, and a collection of related documentaries and television programming on Xfinity and NBC News NOW.
- Veterans in Media and Entertainment (VME) is hosting its fifth annual Veterans in Entertainment Summit on November 15-16 for veterans, military spouses, and their family members interested in working in the television and film industry. In previous years, the event, which is in partnership with Hollywood studios and entertainment companies, has included sessions led by producers, writers, and actors.
- Military OneSource published a PDF on “Leading Practices for Identifying and Supporting Military Spouses.”
- Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families offers a collection of resources for employers looking to hire veterans, military spouses, and military family members.
- Purdue University publishes research on veteran and military families.
- The 2022 Military Spouse Employment Summit, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tackled the challenges of finding work as a military spouse and how employers can recruit from this population. The full recording can be accessed here.
- The U.S. Department of Labor provides resources for employers looking to recruit and work with veterans and military spouses, including a hiring guide, an apprenticeship program toolkit, and information about Regional Veterans Employment Coordinators (RVECs).
- Military Friendly credentials companies as military-friendly employers and military spouse-friendly employers, assisting in employer branding and recruiting initiatives.
- Senior Executive DEI curated a list of job boards for recruiting military members, veterans, and military spouses.
Visit our DEI calendar for a complete list of holidays, events, and commemorations for DEI leaders to recognize throughout the year.