Companies that support, hire and retain veterans deserve recognition for doing so. And a new initiative from DAV (Disabled American Veterans) honors those with a patriotic commitment while empowering them to encourage others to follow their lead.
DAV’s Patriot Employer program honors large, medium and small companies that not only create jobs for veterans but also support them in developing meaningful careers. DAV has been helping ensure we keep promises to veterans for more than 100 years. In addition to supporting career fairs and helping veterans succeed as entrepreneurs, the online program provides digital badges so companies that hire heroes can receive due credit for their commitment to those who served.
“We want to make sure that veterans leave active duty with meaningful employment in place,” said DAV Assistant National Employment Director Ryan Burgos. “One way we do that is by highlighting companies that not only go above and beyond hiring veterans but also retaining those veterans.”
Companies that submit for recognition are considered for national recognition by the charity. In addition to top awards based on company size, DAV also has categories for enterprises that support veterans in other key ways. Sub-categories include honors for excellence in hiring veterans; veteran career retention; veteran community involvement; and veteran community support.
The digital badges that nominees and awardees earn with their acknowledgement aren’t just symbolic. They’re designed to communicate a true commitment to veterans and their spouses that go above and beyond job openings. DAV established the program to help companies showcase their leadership in the hiring arena and encourage all to make hiring a priority. It also gives job seekers confidence in a prospective employer’s values.
“When veterans are looking for a job, they can know that a company has the DAV seal of approval,” said Burgos. “They can trust that they’ll be making a career move, not just getting a job to hold them over.”
In 2022, WPS Health Solutions won the Patriot Employer Award for large companies (indicating more than 1000 employees). For Timothy La Sage, the Senior Military and Veterans Inclusion Lead and Advisor for WPS, earning the digital DAV badge was important to the company’s mission and reach.
“The DAV logo is crucial in letting the community know that this [prospective employer] is a potential new unit for you,” he said. “It shows that there are things in place there that should be familiar to you.
“The Patriot Employer Award shows that your door is open, and that the business is truly open to you as a veteran and there won’t be the typical hurdles that you might have to cross. You might be teaching a company some things and they’re ready and open to learn. Either way, it’s a place that’s ready for you.”
For Duke Birch, the Director of Veterans’ Programs for VSO, a cloud services firm, the DAV Patriot Employer Award badge has been similarly noteworthy. In 2021, VSO won the award in the small business category, and has since integrated the didgital badge into its messaging. The commitment it signals is significant, he said, for both prospective clients and employees.
“If a company has earned that award, it means there’s probably a community of veterans in that company that will understand them as a veteran-employee,” said Birch. It confers a sense of respect for veterans’ approach to things, their value and their work ethics.
Rob Lougee is the National Employment Director for DAV. A disabled veteran himself, he leads the organization’s job fair program, manages special employment initiatives and works to address joblessness and underemployment. Like Birch and La Sage, Lougee believes that the Patriot Employer Awards convey more than a momentary honor.
“I encourage everyone to apply and to recognize their company for hiring veterans,” he said. “It’s an important part of integrating them back into society after their commitment to military service.
“It’s not just about medical care,” Lougee continued. “It’s not just about making sure they have education benefits or home loan guarantee certificates. It’s also about making them feel appreciated for their service, and giving them a fair opportunity to compete for meaningful employment.
“No veteran would want anything less than that and they should deserve nothing less than that. To just be given the opportunity to prove themselves, like anybody else.”
Applications for the 2023 DAV Patriot Employer Awards are now open. Learn more and apply here.