The first veteran I met growing up was my grandfather Hilario Ramos, who served in the Navy during the 1950s Korean War. At the time, the Philippines and the U.S. had a neocolonial relationship where the U.S. actively recruited Filipino nurses, students, and farmers to work in this country.
After studying in the U.S. as a San Francisco State University student, he rotated through other jobs, like working the fields in Stockton, CA, and later enlisted to join the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. He served this country, even when he was not a citizen. It would take over 30 years until the Reagan administration to allow for military service as a means of naturalization. My grandfather’s sacrifice for this country, despite the racism he persevered through in the 1950s, enabled this country to continue to prosper, and my family to reach our potential.
Today is Veterans Day, a time to pause and reflect on the brave men and women who have served our country. These veterans come from all walks of life, and their stories are as diverse as America's. Some enlisted after high school, others joined later in life. Some served during peacetime, others in times of war. But despite their differing backgrounds, they all have one thing in common: they put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.
The veterans I met in my full-time MBA program at Haas are some of the brightest, most generous, and dutiful people. Despite what their experiences may have been on or off the battlefield, their sense of purpose and kindness after what they have undergone makes this community such an important one to support. The skills that they have are translatable in a lot of ways, it is up to recruiters and companies to find the potential in their veteran candidates.
For many veterans, returning to civilian life can be a challenge. They may struggle to find a job that matches their skillset or feel disconnected from their communities. That's why it's so important for us to show our support for veterans every day, not just on special occasions like Veterans Day. Here are some ways you can do just that:
1. Reach out to a veteran you know and thank them for their service. Just a simple "thank you" can go a long way in making them feel appreciated.
2. Create ERGs in your company to support veteran hiring, inclusion, and professional development.
3. Donate to a veteran-focused charity, such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Foundation or the Wounded Warrior Project.
4. Provide mental health and wellness services in your company for all employees and veterans alike.
5. Get involved with a local veterans' group or volunteer at a VA hospital.
6. Teach your children about the importance of Veterans Day and what it means to be a veteran.
7. Attend a Veterans Day event in your community.
8. Most importantly, keep supporting vets all year long!
This Veterans Day, let's take some time to celebrate all our veterans have done for us—not just on this day, but every day. We owe them our eternal gratitude, and we must never forget their sacrifices to defend our great nation. Thank you, veterans!