The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) is a nonprofit veterans service organization of eligible veterans and military service members from the active, guard and reserve forces. In 2020, the organization’s #StillServing campaign launched to recognize the ongoing dedication of veterans and service members who continue to serve their communities. In May of 2022, the VFW added an element to this initiative called the VFW Day of Service.
Day of Service was a month-long initiative that brought together VFW members and fellow veterans across the country to host service projects in their communities. The first event of its kind for a veterans service organization, Day of Service coalesced the mission of the organization in a highly visible way, thus amplifying the efforts of veterans who continue living a life of service after concluding their military careers.
The initial goal was to host 100 events. In total, more than 400 Day of Service events were held, drawing the attention of media and engaging veterans and their communities. This goal was exceeded by over 300%.
Another goal was to showcase the contributions that veterans make to their communities through earned media. The event resonated, with more than 105 placements delivering more than 2 million impressions. Our original goal was 25 placements.
A combined total of publication-wide audience figures for all outlets featuring coverage reached over 91.3 million individuals. Over 13,600 were engaged with news stories through likes, comments and shares on social media platforms.
The positive feedback from communities, the media and most importantly American veterans, told us the time was right for the #StillServing initiative to go bigger, to further amplify volunteer efforts and camaraderie among veterans.
Day of Service was first introduced as a pilot program, with a hopeful goal to make it an annual event. Eventually, the plan is to designate an official VFW Day of Service by federal legislation and bring an even higher focus to veterans #StillServing every year on this day, and throughout the month of May.
Following a similar model that brought success when launching the nationwide #StillServing awareness campaign, the following strategies were employed:
The above strategy, led by a small team, and combined with the support of veterans across the country, made Day of Service 2022 a resounding success. Though challenges were encountered along the way, largely related to the fact that we had six months from conception to execution, the team worked tirelessly to execute every stage of the strategy and spent countless hours doing grassroots outreach to gain additional support.
Now, nearly a year later, we are well into planning and promoting the second annual Day of Service and are pleased to report over 400 events are already confirmed and we are only halfway through our promotion timeline. We anticipate more events and veterans to confirm in the coming weeks, setting the stage for an even bigger and more successful month of Day of Service events.
Day of Service far exceeded expectations, both in terms of the number of events, the types of events and also the media coverage.
Day of Service created an indelible bond between veterans and their communities. Not only did good work happen during these 400 community service events, it has continued in the months that have followed. The act of bringing veterans together, united around a common goal, has served as a bridge between the fellow veterans as well as with their communities.
The quiet, humble work by veterans to improve their communities has been ongoing for many years. VFW Day of Service, now an annual event, has created a visible symbol of these efforts and will embody the true spirit of America’s veterans for years to come.