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

  1. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by DannyC White View Post
    Interesting thread. I started surfing around and found this, it explains the way I feel about the whole thing better than I can express:

    Some veterans believe that saying “thank you for your service” is almost a way for civilians to massage away some of the guilt at not participating themselves. During a recent interview with the New York Times, Army veteran Michael Freedman, 33, feels like the thanks “alleviates some of the civilian guilt,” adding: “They have no skin in the game with these wars. There’s no draft. No real opinions either,” he said. “At least with Vietnam, people spit on you and you knew they had an opinion. Thank you for your service is almost the equivalent of ‘I haven’t thought about any of this.’”

    What bothers me more, is the assumption that every vet has PTSD and is some type of psycho bomb ready to ignite or is mentally damaged. There's plenty of that to go around for the civilians.
    .
    I don't have civilian guilt. I have real opinions. I don't assume any vet has PTSD. Generalizations can be inaccurate in both ways.

  2. #47
    Prashun, I was only replying to the thread with my thoughts, this was not directed towards you or anyone else.

  3. #48
    My point is, there are some generalizations being made about civilians that are not always accurate.

  4. #49
    OP here, many interesting perspectives in this thread. I've also informally polled veteran acquaintances, friends and others in passing. It seems that veteran reactions to being thanked can be as varied as the intentions (all good) of the civilians thanking them.

    Regarding generalizations, one person in the thread made a park ranger comment suggesting that some civilians might trivialize the role of those in service. Perhaps there are some cases of this.
    However, a young lady veteran co-worker of mine felt exactly the opposite. Her impression is that the majority of civilians associate military service with things like heroism, injury, sacrifice, etc.
    In her case, she joined the Navy as a pathway to the college education that otherwise would not have been available to her. She served on the USS Ronald Reagan, never seeing conflict. While proud of her service and thankful to the Navy for the opportunities it gave her, she (modestly) feels her particular service was not heroic enough to warrant thanks from the public.
    She said this out of respect for others who have seen combat, suffered injury, sacrifice, or worse yet, POWs. So long story short, when being thanked she feels that kind of awkwardness that comes from being credited for something that you didn't actually do.

    Anyway, I haven't heard of a single veteran who was "insulted" by being thanked, so it's certainly not a bad practice per se. I've concluded being appreciative of the military is part of good citizenry and patriotism, and just general decency.

    Where possible if a short conversation could strike up, it seems best to thank a vet or empathize with their particular situation authentically. Sometimes this just means showing an interest more than a perfunctory "thanks". And if it's not something they care to talk about, you'll pick up on it pretty quickly and can respect their preference and cheerfully move on.

    Thanks for all the feedback!

    Edwin
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 01-18-2020 at 11:52 AM.

  5. #50
    Edwin, in regards to your lady co-worker she is wrong to feel as she does. While she was fortunate and didn't see combat there was the chance that things could have changed in an instant. No one can predict the future in this uncertain world. One of the better definitions of a veteran is: A veteran is a person who at one time in their life signed a blank check payable to the United States of America for any amount up to and including their life. Remember that service men and women die in training accidents and other types of mishaps so missing combat is not in itself a guarantee of safety.
    Dave Anderson
    Chester Toolworks LLC
    Chester, NH

  6. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Anderson NH View Post
    Edwin, in regards to your lady co-worker she is wrong to feel as she does. While she was fortunate and didn't see combat there was the chance that things could have changed in an instant. No one can predict the future in this uncertain world. One of the better definitions of a veteran is: A veteran is a person who at one time in their life signed a blank check payable to the United States of America for any amount up to and including their life. Remember that service men and women die in training accidents and other types of mishaps so missing combat is not in itself a guarantee of safety.
    In Ashley's defense, I think she's just a modest person from a modest non-entitled background, and she was reflecting on the price she paid for her particular term of service, not what price she might have, or could have paid.

    I do see your point and your good intentions, and I do not mean for her opinion to diminish yours or anyone else's definition of service.
    But I see (and kind of admire) her point too and I think each veteran is entitled to their own opinion without anyone else declaring it wrong as such.

    Hoping this doesn't come across as unreasonable.
    Edwin
    Last edited by Edwin Santos; 01-18-2020 at 12:45 PM.

  7. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Anderson NH View Post
    Edwin, in regards to your lady co-worker she is wrong to feel as she does.
    Sorry, but no one is 'wrong' for feeling the way they do about this. Period. It's their thoughts, not yours. Veterans are as varied as people, because they ARE people. Trying to lump them all together, or force your opinion on all of them is pointless, and actually very wrong. FWIW, I know combat vets (of multiple engagements) that feel similarly when asked.

  8. #53
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Anderson NH View Post
    Edwin, in regards to your lady co-worker she is wrong to feel as she does... A veteran is a person who at one time in their life signed a blank check payable to the United States of America for any amount up to and including their life. Remember that service men and women die in training accidents and other types of mishaps so missing combat is not in itself a guarantee of safety.
    The "signed a blank check" deal is something one hears occasionally from some veterans who were never in any danger, but desire special recognition anyway. People in every walk of life die accidentally and deserve no special recognition for that.

    The lady vet is entitled to her feelings--same as the "blank check" vets.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  9. #54
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    This is along the line of what civilians think military folks do. I was talking to a young recent high school grad and asked what she planned to do. When she responded she didn't know yet I mentioned that a few years in the service of your country has a tendency to firm up your plans for the future. She immediately replied "Oh no, I could never kill people".

  10. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy bessette View Post
    The "signed a blank check" deal is something one hears occasionally from some veterans who were never in any danger, but desire special recognition anyway. People in every walk of life die accidentally and deserve no special recognition for that.

    The lady vet is entitled to her feelings--same as the "blank check" vets.
    Andy,

    If you look at my very first reply to this post, I stated that veterans opinions could be varied as we are all individuals.

    But, sir, unlike any other occupation to my knowledge, those who serve in the military take an oath and as a result of that oath, they can be placed in a life threatening situation, of which they have no choice without paying a severe penalty of imprisonment or even though it hasn't been used in decades, the possibility of facing a firing squad. They can't just walk away from their job.

    Dave Anderson, a proud US Marine, fought in Vietnam, lost friends in battle and IIRC, Dave was wounded there too. I didn't serve in Vietnam during my 8 years of enlistment. I am a Vietnam Era veteran but I want no special recognition. The lady vet certainly has a right to her own opinion. But, as she withstood the potential of being ordered into hazardous duty during her service, she deserves the recognition of being a vet if she wants to make public the knowledge of her service. It's her choice.

    But, the blank check vets, if they are truly combat veterans, they have earned the right to use that quote. There are sadly, a lot of cheap imitators.
    Last edited by Ken Fitzgerald; 01-18-2020 at 2:33 PM.
    Ken

  11. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    ...the blank check vets, if they are truly combat veterans, they have earned the right to use that quote...
    "Blank check" vets saw no combat; were never in a combat zone. Sorry, tried to make myself clear.
    "Anything seems possible when you don't know what you're doing."

  12. #57
    All of us that signed up to serve whether we saw combat or not endured family separations, missing important family events due to duty requirements and any one of use could have at any time been put in the line of fire or in an extremely hazardous location or situation. The difference between a military service member and a civilian is a civilian always has the choice to walk away from something they would rather not do. Service members do not have that option without penalties. During my 26 years of service, I never was in an active war zone, though I did go to areas that were former war zones and very hazardous, flew many hours in aircraft that landed and or took off from ships, went to sea when the weather was really bad, spent weeks and months away from my family some of which included unplanned duration changes. If I had been called to serve in a war zone, I would have gone without question and performed my job to the best of my ability. Each of us deal with our agreement to serve our country in different ways.
    Lee Schierer
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  13. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    ... family separations ... family events ... line of fire ... hazardous situation. ...a civilian always has the choice to walk away ... Service members do not ... in an active war zone, ... former war zones... , flew many hours ..., went to sea..., spent weeks and months away ... I would have gone without question ... to the best of my ability.

    Each of us deal with our agreement to serve our country in different ways.
    ^For each and all, thank you.

    I've heard it said we live in an age of specialization. I think this has been true and accelerating for millennia, is unlikely to stop, and in fact will probably continue to further differentiate our societal roles. We are not all warriors, any more than we are all farmers, teachers, firemen, police, EMTs, - - or waiters.

    With advancing technology, it's not likely we (the USA) will ever again see the mass mobilizations of the past, but clearly a few will continue to answer the call. I can only hope that our differences don't preclude our ability to recognize and acknowledge those who do so answer.

    And I hope none are offended, or even uncomfortable, by my expressed gratitude.
    Molann an obair an saor.

    If Heaven ain't alot like Texas, I don't wanna go. - Hank Jr.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm McLeod View Post
    Mark, I've quoted you here, but this is to all the similar respondents - I am surprised by the numbers and truly sorry you feel this way. And clearly, I AM missing something.

    Why does a civilian need to know what your respective service experiences are 'about'? Could a 'thank you' not be just about their gratitude? How will you feel if they just flat-out ignore you and your Vet hat?

    Does this concept apply to restaurant's wait staff? (I've never been waiter, so sadly don't know what its about.) Teachers maybe?

    Perhaps I am in the middle of this military<>civilian understanding gulf..?? Never served, but my father was, well apparently, a 'park ranger'. I was born in Germany while my father had an F-86D strapped to his ass. Some of my earliest memories are him explaining what it meant when the Squadron Commander and Base Chaplin arrived by GI sedan in front of the house. And this was in peace time; training was apparently dangerous too. Families of my father's friends received such visits and I grew up with their children. Does this middle ground allow me to say 'thank you for your service' with more grace than 'looks like rain'? If so, do I pre-identify my understanding in some way?

    And my profound apologies if this sounds scolding, but if you wish to avoid the awkwardness of a 'thank you', perhaps remove any clues to your status as a vet..??

    Again, my apologies ... I am most assuredly missing something profound, but I would truly like to learn more.

    Malcolm - Thanks for your comments and questions. It truly is a matter of perspective and knowledge or familiarity. While I respect all branches of the service, some get more respect from me than others for the same reason that I guess I don't respect many of the 'thank yous' I have received. For me it all boils down to how much sacrifice each person has made in order to serve. I have known many Army grunts, many more Marines and of course more squids than all others. I have talked with many about their experiences, what they went through, and been able to observe their level of commitment. That is why I mentioned my experience with the Coast Guard. Those people sacrifice an enormous amount for little recognition and a higher amount of disdain. Army and Marines have, over the past 18 years in particular, and pretty much historically, been the ones on the receiving end of all the bad stuff that war brings. They have my complete respect.

    The people that I have experienced giving thanks are mostly young though not always. If it is someone that seems to have a clue to what military service is about, than it means more. I suspect that most of the time, it is more of a corporate policy than anything else. The main reason being I never wear anything that says I have served. I don't wear the ball caps that are so prevalent. The only clue might be the continued haircut, but where I live short hair is very common, so not really a clue. Perhaps one of the reasons, I have never thought about it til now, that I don't wear anything is that I would rather not need to respond to a thank you because for me they are unnecessary and few actually know or understand the sacrifices my family went through. I don't know the sacrifices your family went through as your father served. You were there and have a up front knowledge of what transpired. How many days and nights your father was gone. The concern or fear associated with him flying, when there was a crash, etc. How can anyone with little knowledge of that sacrifice give a heartfelt 'thank you'?

    Everyone is different, so some/many likely appreciate the thought. Some will nod and want to talk about it. Some, like me, would rather just not have it brought it. I suppose I am a great deal like my father. He simply didn't discuss his time in the Navy during WW2 even though he never actually saw combat. He was training for the invasion of Japan when Trueman dropped the bombs. Still, it just wasn't a topic he much wanted to discuss.

    Again, everyone is different and that is how it should be. I have no problems for that appreciate it, but for me, I would rather not receive it. Hope this helps explain my point of view more.
    I am in love with Montana. For other states I have admiration, respect, recognition, even some affection, but with Montana it is love.... It seems to me that Montana is a great splash of grandeur....the mountains are the kind I would create if mountains were ever put on my agenda. Montana seems to me to be what a small boy would think Texas is like from hearing Texans. Montana has a spell on me. It is grandeur and warmth. Of all the states it is my favorite and my love.

    John Steinbeck


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