Standing Up for Veterans

About the author : Brett Ladd

CEO, Sodexo Campus

Published on : 11/10/22
  • November is for giving thanks and honoring veterans. Last month, Sodexo’s employee business group, Honoring Our Nation’s Finest with Opportunity and Respect (HONOR), ranked among the top 25 Employee Resource Groups (ERG) during the 2022 Global ERG Summit. I’m so proud of the HONOR group and our Sodexo team members who lift those who serve and have served our nation in times of peace and conflict.

    Download to read more about our award-winning Network Group HONOR

    Most of all, though, I am proud of and grateful for our veterans, including those who work for Sodexo. The foundation of Sodexo’s mission is Spirit of Service, Spirit of Progress, and Team Spirit. I love the parallel between our corporate values and the work of our nation’s military service members and their families. When Sodexo partners in communities, we strive to amplify the resources that exist locally and regionally—that’s teamwork and service for progress.

    More than ever, our veterans and their families need us to join forces and stand up for them. On any given night, the U.S. Department of Veterans estimates that about 38,000 or more U.S. veterans are without shelter. While homelessness is a visible and dreadful indicator of the substantial challenges our veterans face, they and their families experience a host of other stressors and inequities. Sodexo’s government segment has been a military partner for over 20 years. We have learned a great deal about the complex factors that stand in the way of economic prosperity and mental and physical well-being for our service members and their families.

    Military spouses and partners face unemployment rates at twice the national average as they struggle to balance household needs with finding work in new places every few years, according to the most recent Military Family Life Survey. Military families, including children, often move every two to three years—this means that military children may attend as many as nine schools before they graduate from high school. Many military families face ongoing financial stress from lack of affordable housing and available childcare. I am proud that our Sodexo teams in all segments—government, campus, schools, business, energy, and healthcare—are committed to supporting veterans and their families.

    Sodexo showcases the transformative power of partnership in regional Stand Down events. These one- to three-day events are intended to provide veterans who are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity with both short- and longer-term resources. Attendees may receive hot meals, clothing, hygiene items, haircuts, dental and health screenings, substance abuse counseling, mental health counseling and direct connections to service providers in their communities.

    At the 2022 Veterans Village of San Diego Stand Down, 43 Sodexo volunteers donated time and prepared and served food. The team donated iPads and helped veterans develop resumes and apply for positions on the spot. Sodexo employees raised $7,000 from all segments to donate to the cause. The best part of the San Diego Stand Down? We hired five veterans to join the Sodexo team serving our Marine Corps account. In 2022 alone, we’ve supported Stand Down events in three states, serving well over 3,000 meals and as much hope and care as we can muster

    Download to read more about the 2022 Stand Down Events

    We are actively recruiting veterans at Sodexo; throughout 2022, we hired 80 veterans at the corporate level. Our HR leaders continue to explore recruiting methods to capture the diversity, experience, and strength of our current, reserve, and former service members and their spouses and partners. For example, we have grown our partnership with Hire G.I. During 2023, we will attend career fairs in six different cities with this organization at several different U.S. Army posts.

    It’s also vital that we continue to support our veterans and their families as they seek additional education and skills. In our campus segment, our teams are partnering with colleges and universities to celebrate and reward veterans, including those who may be first-generation college students. At Murray State, our Sodexo dining team helped launch a veterans’ lounge for current and former service members and their dependents. In addition to special Veterans Day brunches and catered events, the Sodexo team provides other free celebratory meals and gift cards to demonstrate connection and care. We’re also preparing a consolidated program of support to campuses that serve significant numbers of military families, including discounted student meal plans, dining dollar rewards, bookstore credits, and internship and employment guidance.  

    There are many ways to say thank you to our veterans and their families. At Sodexo, I am proud that we demonstrate our gratitude through innovation, collaboration, and action—living out our Spirit of Progress, Spirit of Serviceand Team Spirit. I will continue to look for ways to serve those who serve and have served, and I challenge more companies and individuals to do the same. We can all do more to stand up for veterans and their families.