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Thread: Do Veterans like being "thanked for their service"?

  1. #1

    Do Veterans like being "thanked for their service"?

    "Thank you for your service" has become more popular and common than I ever remember in the past. Even among television newscasters, show hosts and Hollywood types.

    The subject over whether veterans like the gesture or not came up over some happy hour talk. I have a group of veteran friends, different ages, some having served in war theater and others not.

    I got different answers among my small sample group, some surprising. This makes me conflicted about whether to engage in the practice myself. I have noticed we have a lot of veterans here, so I thought I might solicit some opinions in the search of good etiquette. Thanks

  2. #2
    As a vet, I don't mind people thanking me. I served during the Viet Nam and first Iraq conflict, but never served in either location or any other war zone. I did have stuff thrown at me and endured verbal abuse during the Viet Nam era. When I see Vets, we generally acknowledge each other and sometimes we speak and compare service experiences. I tell Viet Nam Vets that I appreciate what they did and am glad they made it home. Most were not welcomed at the time. I did serve 5 years active duty and 21 in the Reserves for a total of 26 years.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 01-02-2020 at 2:41 PM.
    Lee Schierer
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  3. #3
    There's a man here on SMC who is a former Marine. He told a story of returning from Vietnam and even being ridiculed by guys at the VFW. I had a reservist friend who returned from the first Gulf War only to be heckled by protestors at the airport after being gone for a year. I have a female coworker who did 2 tours in Iraq and is still visibly shaken by it. These things bug me a lot. I can't "fix" what happened to any of them and all the others like them. But when I thank someone for their service, I'm trying to say "I realize you were out there protecting me and my neighbors. I recognize that you may have paid a price that I will never fully understand. I stand with you - you are not alone. Thank you."

    Fred
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 01-02-2020 at 11:09 AM.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
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  4. #4
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    You get a lot of variation. Indicators they want to be thanked:

    (1) they complain about whether or not they got some discount over five dollars worth of screws at the hardware store;

    (2) they post pictures of themselves in uniform on veteran's day;

    Indicators they do not want to be thanked:

    (1) they look uncomfortable or change the subject when somebody wants to talk about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Edwin Santos View Post
    "Thank you for your service" has become more popular and common than I ever remember in the past. Even among television newscasters, show hosts and Hollywood types.

    The subject over whether veterans like the gesture or not came up over some happy hour talk. I have a group of veteran friends, different ages, some having served in war theater and others not.

    I got different answers among my small sample group, some surprising. This makes me conflicted about whether to engage in the practice myself. I have noticed we have a lot of veterans here, so I thought I might solicit some opinions in the search of good etiquette. Thanks

  5. #5
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    Just like every member of SMC, veterans are individuals too. It's hard to determine how someone may feel, but I'd suggest not going overboard in the process.

    I served 8 years active duty, 1968-1976, a USN Vietnam Era veteran but not a Vietnam veteran.
    Ken

  6. #6
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    Makes me a bit uncomfortable after twenty seven active duty years from Vietnam to the gulf wars, as it seems to have become somewhat cliché, and I always am obligated to say thanks for your support. I'd rather people showed their support by urging their representatives to support active and retired military, and veterans health care programs...including long term care and support for wounded warriors. Also, there are other public service occupations that are hazardous like fire and police work that deserve the same kind of regard and support. Not sure how this got started. Is it the national guilty conscience reacting to the way returning Vietnam vets were treated?

  7. #7
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    I served and I am humbled by the thank you I don't expect free meals or any different service on Veterans Day like my brother in law he thinks it his right

  8. #8
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    As Ken indicated veterans are people and have a wide range of personalities.

    My father and his brothers, as well as those of my mother were extremely uncomfortable talking about their service and certainly wouldn’t have wanted anyone thanking them.

    It all depends upon the person.

    As I’m Canadian, that may be the issue, it’s rare to have people talk about military service, it’s also rare to see a house with a flag on it.

    Everyone is different........Regards, Rod

  9. #9
    Navy, 1971-1975, a little Pacific but not Vietnam, mostly N.Atlantic in ASW. I had 'friends' back home who cursed me for being in the miltary during the war, although at that point my units were targeted against Soviet boats off Iceland. A woman made a point of standing on the freeway in San Diego yelling at recruits in Basic that they were baby killers. I stayed overseas rather than put up with it.

    I wish I believed it was genuine. To me it seems like a cynical effort by politicians to make nice after treating millions of guys like me like trash. Reagan started it (the apology) and I believe he meant it. It picked up after Clinton's draft evasion became known, and treatment of vets became a political issue.

    I have had several friends that were in-country grunts who have died of cancer. I have heard stories of Iraq vets with reactions to the drugs they were given. If they really, really want to thank me for my service than can fix the many, many known problems in the V.A. But that costs money, not words, so seems a much lower priority.
    Last edited by Keith Outten; 01-02-2020 at 2:50 PM.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Calver View Post
    Makes me a bit uncomfortable after twenty seven active duty years from Vietnam to the gulf wars, as it seems to have become somewhat cliché...
    I don't particularly like clichés or 'fad phrases' - such as the tiresome "no worries"... I cringe every time someone says that!

    I'm not a vet, but the phrase "Thank You for your Service" has become so redundant and overused that it's like reading from a script, just going thru the motions. Yeah, the thought is there but you're using someone else's words; using your own words speaks more from the heart. I have many off-the-street customers that, simply based on their respectful speech (calling me "Sir" is a dead giveaway), I pretty much know they've been in the military, and I'll usually ask: "Military?" - and I'll base my 'thank you' on his/her response, and ensuing chat, if any...
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  11. #11
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    My brother is a retired Air Force colonel and he appreciates being thanked for his service.

    As a member of a military vehicle restoration club, I come in contact with veterans of all ages. None of them have any problem with people thanking them.
    “Pay no attention to what you cannot control..” Epictetus, 100 A.D.
    It costs nothing to be kind to others

  12. #12
    As some have already said, it varies from yes to no to depending. I served as a Marine grunt in Vietnam 1968-69 and received 2 Purple Hearts. I have for 5 years volunteered 1 day a week at our NH VA Medical Center. Among us old farts from the era, the common greeting is "Welcome Home." This is because the vast majority of us were ignored at best and vilified at worst upon our return to the states. I personally am neutral to it and am careful to respond with a Thank you. I long go decided that there was no useful reason to suspect people's motives for offering thanks or denigrate the gesture. Life has been good to me both health wise and financially. I choose to volunteer to support my brother and sister veterans many of whom have not had the benefits I have enjoyed. One of life's major choices is to decide whether to be positive or bitter and resentful. I chose being positive.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  13. #13
    "I love you" gets used a lot ,too. It's obviously ok to dislike a needed phrase, but good luck finding something original and
    short. I wonder how many veterans want to hear " good job on that mission,you really kicked butt, My Grampa said
    that was a really tough mission. And when he came back he really had a tough time getting used to being just a citizen
    again,blah ,blah ,blah"
    Last edited by Mel Fulks; 01-02-2020 at 1:43 PM.

  14. #14
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    USNR for eight years, two years active duty starting with the Berlin crisis.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Calver View Post
    Makes me a bit uncomfortable after twenty seven active duty years from Vietnam to the gulf wars, as it seems to have become somewhat cliché, and I always am obligated to say thanks for your support. I'd rather people showed their support by urging their representatives to support active and retired military, and veterans health care programs...including long term care and support for wounded warriors. Also, there are other public service occupations that are hazardous like fire and police work that deserve the same kind of regard and support. Not sure how this got started. Is it the national guilty conscience reacting to the way returning Vietnam vets were treated?
    I hope nobody takes this the wrong way, but it was an honest question, and I think it deserves an honest answer. Personally, I have never figured out what to say in response. Am I supposed to say "you're welcome?" I did not do anything for you. I did it for my family, my community, and because I felt I had a duty to. When you say thank you for your service am I supposed to talk about it? I am not looking to talk about it. I usually end up mumbling something and changing the subject.

    I do not oppose anybody who wants to lobby or write letters or wear flag pins or say thank you for your service. And I appreciate what they are trying to do. But I personally do not do that. There is too much fraud in the VA system for me to feel like people should be obligated to support blindly throwing taxpayer dollars at it. Same unfortunately with a lot of the charities. I see ads and get calls all the time from people wanting money to support veterans causes, firemen and police. If you write down the name and look it up most of them are basically frauds. They donate a few pennies to some other charity, and 90% of what you donate goes to pay the people making the phone calls and to pay six figure salaries for the people who are arranging for the advertisements and hiring the people to make the phone calls.

    When we came back from Fallujah in 2004, we had a brief stop in Maine. When we got off the plane there was a line of about 100 local people waiting to meet us. They all had their cell phones out and were standing there so people could call home and let family know we were safe on American soil. We were told folks in that town made arrangements to have a group of people meet every flight coming in so people could make calls before they had to get back on the plane. Nobody thanked us for our service, but I will never forget that small kindness as long as I live.

    When I was a kid there was a revolutionary war veteran buried on the hill behind my grandfather's house. Every Memorial day, fourth of July and Veteran's day a flag was on that grave. Every year somebody bought the flag, walked up the hill, and made that happen. Around here, every December people show up at the veteran's cemetery to place wreathes on the graves. Every January people show up to pick them up. Lots of people know they do that at Arlington, but there are groups of people all around the country who do that at their local cemeteries. People just show up and do it. It is a good way to spend part of a morning with your kids or whoever else might want to come along.

    Lately they have been doing these "honor flights" for veterans to come in to D.C. and go to the memorials and cemeteries. Many of them are in wheelchairs or have other issues and need help to make those trips. I have met one, and it was a good thing to do. They need help getting people to the airport, help with luggage, etc. They need that help not just in D.C., but also in the states where people are coming from. Lots of places have VA hospitals, church groups, etc. where folks can volunteer and do small things that make a difference.

    ETA: just want to be clear I am not criticizing Ted's response. It has the ring of truth for me, and inspired me to try to answer the question more directly than my initial response, that is why I quoted it.
    Last edited by Nicholas Lawrence; 01-02-2020 at 1:51 PM.

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