On November 2, the Department of State celebrated the 242nd birthday of the United States Marine Corps with a traditional birthday cake-cutting ceremony in Washington. When Gen. Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps and the ceremony’s keynote speaker, asked veterans in the audience to raise their hands, what seemed like several hundred individuals hands went up. When General Neller later asked all Marines, past and present, in the audience to stand and join him in singing the Marines’ Hymn in closing the ceremony, slowly a wave of Marines began standing left and right across the audience of nearly 700.
These Marines and those who raised their hands represent just a slice of the approximate 7,000 veterans who have continued their public service at the Department of State. These men and women not only represent varied backgrounds of military service, but additionally enrich the diversity of the Department with their esprit de corps and strong set of core values.
The Veterans@State Employee Affinity Group is proud to support the veteran community in the Department. We were established with the purpose of promoting awareness of the Department’s veterans and the unique skills we offer, internal networking, career development, and more. Over the next 11 months, the recently elected Veterans@State board will focus on two main areas: enhancing professional development education and opportunities such as details, mentorship and networking; and veterans-related rights and issues such as military buyback options, veterans hiring, disability rights, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994, and more.
In addition to the U.S. Marine Corps’ cake-cutting ceremony, the Department honored veterans at the 15th Annual “Roll Call,” an opportunity for employees to share their military service and backgrounds on November 7, and at a Veterans Day commemoration event to emphasize the theme of veteran resiliency on November 9, during which Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan highlighted the contributions and diversity of our veterans.
To many, Veterans Day is more than just a day off from work. It is a time of reflection and gratitude. In the United States, you can visit one of the numerous military monuments or memorials and thank a veteran. You may see veterans wearing hats representing their branch of service or a particular campaign they supported. You may also see our elderly veterans, perhaps those who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, as they visit many of the memorials that represent where they served. Over the Veterans Day weekend, take a moment to thank a veteran. A simple nod or thank you to their service is very meaningful and goes a long way.
About the Author: Renee Lee is the President of the Department's Veterans@State Employee Affinity Group.
Editor's Note: This entry also appears in the U.S. Department of State's publication on Medium.com.