Veterans Day and Memorial Day aren’t the only national holidays dedicated to honoring troops. August 7 is a time to show appreciation for fallen and wounded servicepeople who have made sacrifices for our freedom.
This lesser-known event is called Purple Heart Day, and you can salute servicepeople in your area by using your business to spread awareness.
Origins of Purple Heart Day
More than 1.7 million combat-wounded servicepeople have received the Purple Heart. The medal dates back to 1782, when George Washington created the Badge of Military Merit to acknowledge soldiers who showed courage and valor on the battlefield. Only three soldiers received this early decoration.
Support for the award ended after the Revolutionary War, and it wasn’t revived until 1932. Gen. John J. Pershing re-envisioned the merit badge as the Purple Heart, which was limited to living members of the Army and Army Air Corps.
By 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt expanded the criteria to include the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard. Military officials also recognized the importance of honoring soldiers who were already deceased and soon made the medal available posthumously.
Today, the medal is overseen by the Military Order of the Purple Heart and awarded to all members of the armed forces who are killed in action or wounded by opposing troops or friendly fire during an armed conflict. Along with MOPH, the Purple Heart Foundation works to improve the quality of life for combat-wounded veterans and their families.
How to Do Your Part on Purple Heart Day
Do you proudly support U.S. troops? Are you looking for new ways to get involved in your local community?
The weeks leading up to Purple Heart Day are a great time to connect with military families and give back to your community.
Keep in mind, Purple Heart Day isn’t a commercial holiday. Many veterans experience life-changing injuries in combat and simply value support and understanding from civilians.
As a result, getting involved is about outreach more than promotion.
Here are eight ways to acknowledge veterans on Purple Heart Day 2018.
Hang Informational Signs
Many civilians have never heard of Purple Heart Day because it isn’t a big mainstream event. Use your visibility as a business owner to show others why this day is so important.
If you have a brick-and-mortar store, hang signs that explain the meaning and origins of the Purple Heart medal. Include signs that encourage people to perform acts of kindness toward military families in their neighborhood or volunteer with organizations that help veterans.
You can also add reminders to your website and social media pages. Simple messages, such as “How are you planning to show appreciation on Purple Heart Day?” may spark interest among customers.
Share the Stories of Purple Heart Recipients
Reach out to Purple Heart recipients and other veterans in your area to share stories of their experiences and acts of valor they witnessed. You can contact a local chapter of MOPH or use email newsletters, social media, and word-of-mouth referrals to get the word out.
If you’re able to gather a sizeable collection, consider creating a tribute wall in your store. Otherwise, you can make a video for your YouTube channel or put featured stories in a newsletter.
Volunteer at a VA Hospital
Many business owners find it rewarding and team-building to get their entire staff involved in a community service project. Talk to your employees about volunteering at a VA hospital or a veteran-focused nonprofit on a regular basis.
Depending on availability, you can volunteer as a group a few times a month or ask each employee to commit to specific days. That way, your business has an ongoing presence with your chosen organization.
You can even print up company shirts for team volunteers. Just make sure they’re appropriate for the environment where you’re volunteering.
Sponsor a Pet Companion
Post-traumatic stress disorder is an all-too-common reality for servicemen and women. Service pets provide a source of unconditional love and comfort for veterans as they work through physical and emotional trauma.
If you’ve considered sponsoring a pet for a veteran, make it official and sign up this Purple Heart Day. It can cost anywhere from $20,000 to $40,000 to train qualified service dogs — a hefty expense for the average military family. But the option to adopt a service dog is available. According to the ASPCA, there are six to eight million pets waiting to be adopted this year — many of which would be ideal service dogs to vets.
Crowdsourced sponsorships make it possible for nonprofits to place fully trained pets with deserving vets at little or no cost to their families. This type of pet adoption can prove to be financially beneficial for the owner, as well as save the lives of innocent animals and aids in the termination of puppy mills. In return, you receive updates about the pet’s progress and training.
Use Purple Heart Day to spread awareness about pet sponsorship if you’re already sponsoring one. You can share photos and details about your sponsored pet on social media while encouraging your followers to sign up.
Hire a Disabled Vet
Can your business reasonably accommodate a disabled employee? Servicepeople often make incredible sacrifices to protect our country and then struggle to support themselves and their families after suffering serious injuries.
Contact nonprofits or government agencies that support disabled veterans when you have an available position. For added incentive, the government offers tax credits for hiring veterans. Here are a few places to start your search.
- Local Veteran Employment Representative for the U.S. Dept. of Labor
- A local branch of Veterans Association
- Hire Heros
- Wounded Warrior Project
These organizations can help you get in touch with unemployed veterans in your area who have a compatible skill set. Make it clear you’re happy to accommodate a vet with special needs.
Offer a Free or Discount Meal
Own a restaurant or food-based business? Why not say “thanks” by inviting Purple Heart recipients and their immediate families to stop by your business for a special meal? To avoid wasting supplies, advertise well in advance and require participants to register and RSVP.
Host a Fundraiser or Drive
Several nonprofits work year-round to gather funds and supplies to help military families manage their everyday needs. Use whatever unique skills, resources, or influence you have to lend a hand by fundraising or donating your services.
For example, veteran organizations frequently look for people who are willing to build homes or provide rides to work and medical appointments. Operation Homefront coordinates collections for items such as school and baby supplies for military families.
Find out which organizations operate in your area, and offer to hold a collection.
Organize a Secret Supporter Event
Sometimes, the best way to show appreciation is to share a warm moment of gratitude to people who aren’t expecting it. While not all veterans have been injured in combat, many are suffering through unseen trauma, such as depression.
A surprise thanks from a secret admirer can be uplifting in times of stress. Give your customers the chance to sponsor an anonymous gift or card for a veteran or the family of a deceased vet.
You can handle this in one of two ways. Either allow customers to secretly sponsor someone they know, or generate a list of vets in your area and match them up with random sponsors.
Set up the event in whatever way makes sense for your business. For example, you might find it convenient to create donation tiers, such as a personalized card, a small gift basket, and a large gift basket.
If you don’t sell retail products, it might be easier to let sponsors choose what to donate, such as a restaurant gift certificate. When possible, film recipients getting their surprise gift, so you can share it with the sponsor and your online audience.
Servicepeople are invaluable to our country, and it’s important for us to recognize their efforts. Doing your part to provide help for veterans also allows you to build relationships in your community and gain exposure for your business.
Don’t let another Purple Heart Day go by without participating. Even the smallest gesture could have a lasting impact on the life of a combat-wounded veteran.
Share your great ideas for thanking our veterans! How is your small business participating? Get ideas of how to brand your business for any holiday at FreeLogoServices.com