Here's 5 ways to go beyond the 'thank you' following Veterans Day

Matt Saintsing
November 11, 2018 - 11:27 am
Sailors assigned to Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD), raise the flag during a special morning colors in observance of Veteran’s Day.

"Thank you for your service." 

Never has a phrase so well-intentioned received more wide-ranging reactions. Responses from veterans vary from a genuine "you're welcome" to a conversation-stopping "for what?" are equally as common. 

But as the #TYFYS crowd ramps up into overtime in the days leading up to and following Veterans Day, we'd like to equip those who honestly want to "thank" a friend or loved one who's worn their nation's uniform with more than just a canned phrase seen from everything to car dealership ads to beer commercials. 

Shut Up and Listen

No one is voiceless, especially those of us who've experienced combat since 9/11. So, rather than speak for people with military experience under their belts, give them the microphone. Ask them, why they served or where. Find out what their job was, or what they chose a specific branch. By personalizing someone's past, you'll show them your interest is more than just a five-word boilerplate offer of gratitude. 

Other common questions can be "what do you miss most?" or "what is the funniest thing that happened during your time in?" This last question surely won't disappoint. 

Know When to Stop Asking

Everyone experiences the memories and emotions of Veterans Day a little different. And it isn't uncommon for well-meaning civilians to overstep some unspoken line. It should go without saying, but never ask someone if they've ever killed anyone, and don't ask about their worst day in the military. 

By leaving questions open-ended, you'll give veterans the chance to write their own stories and gives them the opportunity to share or omit anything they like comfortable sharing. 

Donate

Not everyone can open their wallets, but if you can spare a couple of bucks, countless organizations will gladly make great use of your donations. If you're passionate about ending homelessness, providing mental health care, reducing veteran suicide, or any other of the dozens of issues impacting America's veterans check out Wounded Warrior Project, The American Legion, AMVETS, or The Veterans of Foreign Wars to name a few. 

It's best to do a little research before offering money. And if you want to know how far your dollar will go, check out any of the websites that'll tell you exactly how they'll spend it. 

Hire One!

I know, I know. Giving someone a job is much more cumbersome than just saying thanks. But the fact remains that there are too many veterans still looking for work. Last year, the veteran unemployment rate was 3.7 percent, according to the Department of Labor, down from 4.3 percent the year prior. And the latest numbers for veterans are even better, with their unemployment rate being 2.9 in October 2018, compared to 3.5 percent of their civilian counterparts. 

Still, there are veterans out there wanting to break into the very industry you work in and are looking for a chance prove their worth. If you're going to hire a vet, but have no idea where to start, check out PsychArmor, a non-profit that provides free webinars aimed towards hiring managers for how to find, recruit, and retain veterans in your company. 

But if you aren't in a position to hire a veteran, you can still...

Support a Veteran-Owned Business

Veterans run about 9 percent of all small businesses. Choosing to spend your hard earned cash at one of these establishments, says "thanks" more than just words can. Looking to move? There's a veteran-owned business for that and everything from solar panels to, of course, beer. There's no limit to the entrepreneurial spirit veterans have, and no matter what you need, you can help support a local vet-owned venture. Here's a handy website to find one. 

    Contact us about this article or share your story at gethelp@connectingvets.com.