As we approach Veterans Day, we are reminded once again of the sacrifices veterans have made and the many obstacles they now, unfortunately, face.
Whether it‘s health problems and painfully long waits to receive treatment, reduced financial support and benefits, or a higher unemployment rate than that of the general population, our veterans return from defending our country only to face more challenges here at home.
While I realize that one individual — or company — cannot solve all of these problems, it is important that we all do what we can to help our men and women of the military, especially in areas where we can have an impact. For Edible Arrangements, that area of impact is unemployment.
It is disheartening to know that unemployment among veterans is 9 percent, almost double that of the general population. There are a number of reasons for this, but the one I have trouble understanding is that some employers are simply hesitant to hire veterans. In my experience, veterans have the exact qualities that make them amazing team members.
They are organized and disciplined. They are persistent and not afraid to take on challenges. They are committed and operate successfully alone or with a team.
In addition, these qualities also make them successful franchisees and small business owners.
At Edible Arrangements, we want to have more employees and franchisees who are veterans! That’s why we provide discounts on our franchise fee and last year launched the Hero’s Welcome program aimed at increasing the number of veterans in our system.
That’s why we donated $125,000 to the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program which assists veterans in becoming small business owners through franchising.
However, we realized that there was even more we could do — not just reaching out to veterans in our business, but spreading the word about how veterans are not just good, but tend to be ideal small business owners, entrepreneurs and team members.
To accomplish this, we have forged a partnership with an amazing and esteemed organization that provides support and services to the 2.8 million veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan — the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Association (IAVA). The founder and Executive Director, Paul Rieckhoff, is a veteran (and an all-around amazing person) who has built an organization that works tirelessly to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families.
Edible Arrangements’ partnership with the IAVA will allow us to significantly expand our efforts to recruit and employ veterans while also spreading the word that veterans have qualities that make them ideal employees and small business owners.
Our goal is to help raise awareness from coast to coast about how veterans make ideal employees, small business owners and franchisees, and provide an example of how businesses like Edible Arrangements can help.
If you are a hiring manager or a small business owner, I urge you to be open to hiring vets and to actively reach out to them.
If you are a franchising company, know that veterans make amazing franchisees and small business owners — I speak from experience!
More than anything, I hope that everyone will take the time to remember the sacrifices these brave men and women have made on our behalf and will make it your goal over the next year to do what you can to support them as they make the transition from the military back to civilian life. You will not regret that you did.