But if you're looking for something more – whether it's to personally thank someone you know, or to express your gratitude for all those who have served – check.
When we meet a veteran, does he or she want to be told, “Thank you for your service?” Over the course of the last 15 years, I have heard many opinions on this question from veterans and non-veterans alike. I’ve gotten input from mental health professionals, clergy, and other medical personnel about whether to thank a veteran or active service member for their service to our country. Ultimately, I have heard mixed reviews—some people say that you should say “thank you” to a veteran or current service member; others think you shouldn't. Each side of the issue has a valid perspective.
This difference of opinion resulted in a very thought-provoking reflection that had me evaluate both sides of the issue. Some questions that came up for me were: What might lead a person to recommend not thanking someone for their service? What experiences would a veteran or service member have that would evoke a reaction in either direction—positive or negative—if someone thanked them for their service? Finally, when did this debate originate?
As I reflected on my own experience, I could see both sides. When I was on active duty, when people noticed I was in uniform, a common experience was people walking up and saying “thank you for your service.” To me, it felt great to receive the acknowledgment and it would make me feel proud of what I do. I feel honored to wear the uniform; being acknowledged for doing so is an added bonus. Coming from the perspective of someone who has been deployed but never seen direct combat (e.g. firefight, IED blast, etc.) outside of mortar attacks, I take great pride in serving this country in uniform and therefore enjoy being thanked for my service.
From a different angle, I would often feel uncomfortable about running errands after work because if I entered a store, a restaurant, or other establishment that was away from a military installation, I would usually stick out. I often felt awkward and hyperconscious, like people were staring at me or that I always had to be on my best behavior so that I represented the Army in a positive way. I lived 45 miles away from the main post, which resulted in fewer military personnel in the community where I lived. As a result, going anywhere would often result in bringing attention to myself. I would constantly be on alert and mindful of my actions. In reflecting upon my own experience in feeling uncomfortable and awkward when outside of the main post in public, I can only imagine what someone who has experienced more direct combat might feel in a similar situation.
I have worked in the mental health field with veterans and service members for many years. Over this time, I have heard a variety of providers, people, clergy, civilians, and others state that you should not say “thank you for your service” to a veteran or service member. Four main reasons that I have heard come to mind.
First, those who believe this say that it could “trigger” someone to have an emotional reaction. The trigger would be connected to a potential adverse or traumatic experience that has impacted their view of military service in a negative way. This could potentially mean that someone would get angry or irritated (e.g. "You don’t know what I've done.”), respond in a way that is reactive (e.g. “You don’t know what I have been through.”) or question your intent (e.g. “Why would you say that?”).
Second, not everyone that is a veteran served in the same era or timeframe, so their homecoming experience or public opinion while they were at war may have been drastically different. For example, a veteran who served in the Vietnam era may have had a negative homecoming experience that consisted of harassment from civilians, protests by the public, and implied disapproval of U.S. military presence overseas.
Third, the era of service also makes a difference as some veterans volunteered to serve in the military and some were drafted. The difference can be significant depending on what they experienced—for example, while deployed to Vietnam. For a veteran who volunteered to serve versus a veteran who did not have a choice, their response, view, and perspective may be significantly different due to having the freedom to make the decision or not. The power of choice could significantly impact the type of response one might receive.
Fourth, I have heard various medical and mental health providers recommend saying a variety of different sayings such as “thank you for your willingness to serve,” “welcome home,” or “thank you for your sacrifice.” The reason for this ties into the first reason which is to cater your response to the individual based on the era of service or what you know they did while in the military.
I would like to send a clear message. In my view, regardless of a veteran’s era of service, branch of service, active or non-active status or deployment area of operation, etc., you should thank a veteran or service member for their service by specifically stating: “thank you for your service.”
In general, I recommend going “over” rather than “under”: acknowledging someone’s service rather than not doing so for fear of what the response might be. It is a blanket statement that can be applied to a large number of those who have served or who are currently serving in any capacity.
Many civilians and veterans alike have good intentions when they say the phrase “thank you for your service.” In most cases, it is highly likely that their intentions are to acknowledge the sacrifice and selfless service that many veterans and service members have made. Simply stating a phrase is one of the ways that they are choosing to honor the ones that they most likely see as allowing us to live the lifestyles that we do in a free land. Although America is not perfect, it strives to be.
Anecdotally, however, I have encountered some veterans that state things like, “Civilians don’t understand and they never will—so why are they thanking me for something they don’t understand?” If a veteran or service member is unable or unwilling to see past the semantics of someone’s (most likely good) intentions, it's possible that there could be a “stuck point” or significant point of contention due to a potentially traumatic experience or negative event that occurred while deployed or in the military. If a veteran is triggered, has a negative reaction, or has an “issue” with someone that says “thank you for your service,” it could be helpful for that person to seek therapy so that they could work toward a place to where they would be able to receive such a statement and see it as an acknowledgment of their service.
Each year, as Veterans Day draws near, many people contact me and ask me what they could do for veterans. I have three recommendations:
These are three basic things that you can do moving forward to help acknowledge a veteran or service member in your community. As this national holiday approaches, take action in whatever manner has meaning for you.
LoveThisPic offers Thank You For Serving Our Country pictures, photos & images , to be used on Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Twitter and other websites.
NAVSO is offering new members a discounted rate to celebrate
our nation's Independence Day.
You serve veteran and military families. And we want to help.
As our way to say thank you for serving them, we're offering
all new NAVSO nonprofit members a $150 annual membership
for a limited time.
At just $12.50 a month, new member organizations will benefit from our services all year long.
NAVSO helps you:
1. Must be a nonprofit organization to receive the July 4th special rate
2. Must purchase an annual NAVSO membership - monthly memberships do not qualify
3. Annual membership must be paid for between June 16th and July 4th, 2019.
We hope you join us in our mission to impact the veteran marketplace for good.
Any day is a good day to thank a veteran for his or her service. However, it’s particularly important on November 11, otherwise known as Veterans Day. Initially meant to celebrate world peace and the end of World War I, Veterans Day has evolved into a holiday honoring current and former members of the United States Armed Forces.
So, how do you thank a veteran? It can be tough to find adequate words, given everything they mean to our country. In many cases, a simple “thank you for your service” is enough. But if you’re looking for something more – whether it’s to personally thank someone you know, or to express your gratitude for all those who have served – check out the following list of ideas.
Here are some short messages of thanks to all military veterans. These are ideal for sharing in social media posts, website messages, and so forth.
A message to an individual should obviously take a slightly different form. Here are some examples of how to say thank you to a veteran using a more personal tone.
In reality, we can never thank our veterans enough for their service. Inspiring as they may be, the above Veterans Day messages are just a small token of the gratitude we should all feel.
Review examples of phrases, wordings, and messages to use when writing thank -you notes, when to say thank you, and how to send your note or message.
Three little words — that’s all it takes for Australians to make a huge difference to the lives of our armed services men and women.
Today, Kids News launches #ThanksForServing: a movement to recognise the service of veterans, past and present, and the sacrifice of their families.
It’s backed by some of our bravest soldiers — among them Victoria Cross holders Daniel Keighran and Keith Payne — and supported by key groups including the RSL* and Legacy*.
As the end of the World War I centenary* approaches and the Invictus Games come to Australia, minds are focusing on 100 years of extraordinary efforts by Australian soldiers.
And with returned soldiers, then and now, often facing unique challenges — from battle-related conditions such as injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder*, to difficulties adapting to life after leaving the military — experts are urging other Aussies to reach out with a simple message.
“Saying thanks for serving is really important,” said former Corporal Keighran, who earned Australia’s highest bravery award in a ferocious firefight in Afghanistan in 2010. “For serving men and women and veterans — but also for their families, who can feel so isolated.”
Former Warrant Officer Class 2 Payne, who joined the Australian Army aged 18 in 1951 and served in Korea, Malaya and PNG before he was awarded the VC for his actions in Vietnam, said the importance of the words “thank you” cannot be underestimated*.
“It is just important. So many soldiers come back from serving overseas suffering post-traumatic stress disorder. I did myself when I came back from Vietnam … I know they’ve got a hard road ahead of them, and for them to know that people are behind them means a lot.
“Sometimes that’s all they need.”
While many Vietnam veterans were treated badly by a public that disagreed with Australia’s involvement in that war — they were accused of murder and worse — Keighran believes that our attitudes have become far more accepting.
“I have experienced it myself. Today people are more likely to say ‘I may not agree with what the government is doing, but I acknowledge what you have been through’ — thanking you for your service.”
The Brisbane-based ex-infantryman, believes that is a point of difference between Australia and America, where veterans are celebrated openly and enthusiastically. It is not unusual for strangers to pay for US veterans’ meals in restaurants.
He believes a more heartfelt yet perhaps calmer “thank you” is a more Aussie approach, which can be expressed at any time of year — not just Anzac Day and Remembrance Day on November 11.
#ThanksForServing is encouraging Kids News readers to say thanks and send a message to our servicemen and women in the comments on this story or by emailing your message to [email protected]
Or you can say your thanks in person to a veteran or their relatives at public events; or start by taking a quiet moment to think about what they have sacrificed for us all.
The role of relatives is a particular focus for the charity Legacy, which is among organisations endorsing #ThanksForServing.
“As a returned serviceman, I understand first-hand the sacrifices made by serviceman and women, and we as a nation, must never forget,” said its chairman Rick Cranna, OAM.
“As a Legatee (volunteer), having cared for widows and their children for more than 40 years, these sacrifices echo endlessly within the family that remain. The sacrifices made by families are no less important and must not be overlooked. I encourage all Australians to pay tribute to the service and sacrifice of veterans and their families through the #ThanksForServing campaign.”
The RSL is also fully backing #ThanksForServing.
“For more than a century, Australian men and women have served in uniform, putting their lives on the line — and many paying the ultimate price,” said RSL National Acting Chairman John King, a 22-year full-time soldier.
“The simple act of saying ‘Thanks for serving’ — of acknowledging the hardships they face and the impact on their families — can be extraordinarily powerful. It’s a small gesture with a big result — so in person, in public or on social media, please thank our men and women for their service towards our freedom.”
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
After reading this very thought-provoking Kids News article, creatively respond to the #ThanksForSharing campaign.
Some ideas you may like to choose could be;
You can choose to respond in a way that conveys how you would like to say thank you to all the men and women who have served in the armed forces for our country.
Share your creations with the class or ask your principal if you can share some at a school assembly and encourage other classes to do the same.
If your grandparents, mum, dad, brother or sister had served in the armed forces, what would it mean to you to see them publicly acknowledged for their courage and bravery, especially for those who lost their life serving?
Time: Allow one hour
Curriculum links: English, The Arts, Critical & Creative Thinking
After reading the article, with a partner, highlight all the openers you can find in blue. Discuss if they are powerful and varied openers or not. Why do you think the journalists has used a mix of simple and power openers? Would you change any, and why?
HAVE YOUR SAY: Write your own message of thanks to our veterans, current armed forces and their families.
No one-word responses. Use full sentences to explain your thinking and express your message.
Express gratitude to one of God's faithful servants with a thank-you card decorated with tribal patterns and blue foil accents. Matthew 25:21.