Honoring Our Vets (With Support from Our Animal Friends)


Today, November 11, is Veteran’s Day.  But that was not its original name.

In 1919, at the end of World War I, known at the time as the “Great War,” President Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, the day hostilities effectively ended World War I a year earlier.

On May 13, 1938, Congress made November 11 a national holiday called Armistice Day to honor the Vets of World War I.  That was when Congress did something.

In 1954, after World War II and the Korean War, Congress changed the name to Veteran’s Day so that all veterans would be honored (as they should be).

More wars have followed so we have more Veterans to honor.  While we should honor them, that is not enough.  We must do more.

As you know, some employers with government contracts and subcontracts are required to engage in affirmative action to help our Vets. However, even employers who are not legally required to engage in affirmative action should help our vets.  It is a way to give back to those who have fought for us.

I am proud to be a member of SHRM for so many reasons.  One of them is because of all that SHRM has done to help our vets.

For some suggestions by SHRM on how we can help our vets, please click here, here and here.   

I would like to add one of my own.

In addition to the many who have died, many veterans come home with physical and emotional disabilities.  It is estimated that up to 20 percent return with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Some are so traumatized that they cannot return to work.  Some struggle even to communicate with their families.

How do we help them?  Through Twitter, I discovered Pets for Vets.   

I interviewed Clarissa Black, Founder and Executive Director of Pets for Vets.  When Ms. Black started Pets for Vets, there was one chapter.  Today, there are 26!

How does Pets for Vets work?  Vets describe the type of dog or cat (or even rabbit or bird) that they want.  Next, professional trainers go to shelters where animals otherwise might be euthanized and find a “match” for the veteran based on, among other things, temperament.

According to Ms. Black, when going through the process, sometimes the veterans will tell her volunteer trainers things they had not even told their therapists.  What was hidden needed to be revealed in the search of a the right friend.

As noted above, many vets have PTSD.  Sometimes the PTSD manifests itself in hyper vigilance.  With the dog or cat looking out for them, the vets can be less vigilant.

Just looking into the eyes of or petting the dog, cat or other precious creature can help reduce the stress and anxiety of the vet by the release of oxytocin.  When you care for others, you care for yourself.  This is not limited to vets!

Of course, it is not only the vets who benefit from this program.  Painfully, across the country, more than 2 million dogs and cats are euthanized every year.

With Pets for Vets, shelter animals receive a second leash on life by giving a second chance at life to our returning heroes.  In return, the vet gives the shelter animal a second leash on life.

Pets for Vets is not the only organization that can help veterans by way of support animals.  Others include Pets for Heroes and Canine Companions to name just two.

Use of a support animal may be a reasonable accommodation under ADAAA.  Also, many state laws protect the use of support animals.  So animals can help Vets not only return to work, but actually work.


This blog is not legal advice and should not be construed as applying to specific factual situations.


Follow me on Twitter at:  @Jonathan_HR_Law.


The SHRM Blog does not accept solicitation for guest posts.

Add new comment

Please enter the text you see in the image below: