The service and dedication of American military veterans allow companies like Diageo the freedom to operate as they do.
So stated Marc Strachan, Diageo Vice President of Corporate Relations and Constituent Affairs. “Too often the impact of veterans in our lives is not acknowledged, but our company knows that impact very well,” he said Wednesday during Diageo’s inaugural Military Service Appreciation Day, held at the company’s North American headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut.
The all-day event welcomed veterans of all backgrounds to the Norwalk campus. It featured a full slate of events, including panel discussions (women in uniform, the impact of charity on military), film screenings (The Hornet’s Nest, which followed troops in Afghanistan combat), and a packing session for Packages From Home, a nonprofit that ships comfort packages to active military.
“If you’re on the frontlines, a care package with fresh toilet paper could be as important as water,” Strachan said. “A Slim Jim could keep you going for a few more days. These touches from home are the every-day essentials that help our soldiers survive.”
Another cause that Diageo has partnered with, and promoted on Wednesday, was iPads For Soldiers. This nonprofit ships iPads to soldiers in military hospitals. The devices come equipped with apps for meditation, career development and video connection.
“I met one soldier who told me that he was deployed six months before his son was born,” Strachan recalled. “It wasn’t until he got one of these iPads that he could finally reconnect with his family through Skype.”
Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling kicked off the event with a ceremony that officially proclaimed November 9, 2016, as Diageo Salutes the Troops Day in the city. He lauded Diageo for its recently launched program that offers veterans career training in the hospitality industry.
“Connecticut is the first state in the nation to end chronic homelessness among veterans, and will end all veteran homelessness by the end of the year,” Rilling said during the outdoor ceremony. “Diageo is a wonderful partner in that effort, by providing veterans with the skills and training to help them earn a living and dignity — because they deserve both.”
Rilling’s proclamation followed a military Presentation of the Colors with performance by the Hampton Pipe and Drum Corps.
Strachan said Diageo has celebrated veterans since the company’s inception, and five years ago gathered all these activities under one program — Diageo Salutes the Troops — which Strachan oversees.
“This day of appreciation is an outgrowth of that,” he said. “It’s our acknowledgment of the importance and dedication of what the military does.”
Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Beverage Dynamics magazine. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org