What's the right way to thank you for your service?

Eye on Veterans
November 05, 2018 - 5:47 pm

Image courtesy of Dreamstime

We've seen it all before, someone sees an older (in most cases) gentleman in a baseball cap with 'Korean War Veteran' or 'Vietnam Veteran' or 'Gulf War Veteran' stitched across the front and they may hold the door, help them onto a bus or give up a seat and simply say "thank you for your service."

That's it, end of the conversation...but it's not really even a conversation, is it? Therein lies the problem. This volunteer force signs up to protect and defend the country and our freedom, but no one knows how to accurately thank them. It's not something that anyone is ever taught, not in school or not at home, unless you have servicemembers in your family and even then the conversation rarely comes up. 

On Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Military Appreciation Month and in some cases year-round, there are often stores and restaurants that offer a military discount or gyms and fitness centers that offer free or discounted classes. Sometimes this comes from built-in company values-- an owner with a grandfather that served or a child that joined up-- and some of it comes from marketing.

Regardless, how many of us actually feel comfortable asking for those discounts every time you walk into a store? There's a general air of discomfort around having to ask for things, for favors or discounts, its just not something that veterans like to do. In the long run, the free meal or appetizer or gym class or 10% off at that one store in the mall might be nice and well-intentioned but those offers also just end in "thank you for your service."

How do you feel when you hear that phrase? Thanking a veteran or servicemember any day at all can bring a wide variety of emotions and reactions from sincere smiles to shy nods or the weird moment when you awkwardly respond with "thank you" or "you're welcome."

In hopes of starting a real conversation, I would like to hear from you all.

If anyone had the opportunity to adequately thank you for your service, what would it look or sound like?


To share your thoughts or how you would like your military service to be acknowledged send them to lauren@connectingvets.com.