Early yesterday I posted “Thank a veteran today.” Then last night I came across an article on NBC News entitled “Your ‘thank you’ to veterans is welcomed, but not always comfortably received.”
It seems not all veterans enjoy being told “Thank you for your service.” Some feel uncomfortable because they think they don’t deserve it, or are embarrassed by it, or simply don’t know how to respond. Some prefer not to be singled out from the general population around them. And some think it’s just a perfunctory greeting that means nothing to the person who said it.
I went on to find several other articles and forums dealing with the same topic and was surprised to read all the different views on why someone in or formerly in the military might feel less than pleased about being thanked. Not deserving, just doing their job, never saw combat, etc. The reasons were as varied as the individuals who expressed them.
If you are one of those individuals, I assure you my gratitude was not just a knee-jerk, perfunctory greeting. I appreciate that you and your loved ones sacrificed time, money, physical well-being, and any number of other things to serve our country and guarantee my safety and freedom. My dad served in the Medical Corps during WWII. Stateside, but in an Army hospital nonetheless. My older brother served in the Air Force during the Cold War, flying B-47s on round-the-clock missions to ensure we had defensive and retaliatory capability in the air at all times. During Vietnam, I had no family in the service but we worked to support the troops fighting that very unpopular war.
There were a lot of suggestions from veterans about other ways to thank them. Many said a simple nod and a smile would suffice. Hard to do that on the Internet, but then, veterans don’t have to acknowledge Internet postings. Others suggested “Welcome home” was a better acknowledgment, but that seems appropriate only for someone who has just recently come home. Still, all this has caused me to rethink “thank you for your service” and in the future I’ll try to remember that it might not be received as I intend.
I came across this comment from Leepatrizzi:
A woman noticed my Wounded Warrior T-shirt and after a short conversation gave me two business cards reading “I am part of our American Flag that flew over a home in Florida. I can no longer fly. In the sun & the wind, I have been tattered & torn, but not forgotten. You ARE NOT forgotten. Please carry me as a reminder.” She gave me these for my brother and nephew who served our country.
These business cards were in a mini ziploc with the beautiful embroidered star of an American flag in it also. I have since been making this little ziploc package to give to every Veteran I come across. I will continue to make and give these as a way of showing my appreciation to our service members, thanks to the wonderful woman who gave them to me.
What a wonderful idea. Unfortunately, here on the Internet, I can only hand out virtual stars. If you are a veteran, please accept one with my gratitude.