‘Thank you for your service’ on Veterans Day — It’s too much & not enough (Opinion)
"Thank You for your service." That's what we will hear and say a lot this Veterans Day. In fact, According to a poll commissioned by the Cohen Veterans Network, 91 percent of Americans have thanked a vet.
The survey also says nearly half (49%) of veterans and active-duty service members feel uncomfortable being thanked for their service
According to an article in Newsday discussing the poll, many veterans would rather have more understanding and civilian support. The Newsday article quotes Dave Gowel, CEO of RallyPoint Networks, a digital platform for the military community,
"We challenge you to show appreciation in additional ways for those who have repeatedly stepped in harm's way on your behalf; think about why you are saying thanks and realize you need to do more than check the block with a simple phrase," he said.
One thing I think we as a nation can do to thank veterans for their service is to give them Veterans Day off with pay. This way, they can take advantage of all the tributes and memorials.
I reached out to retired Lt. Col. Robert Vicci, CEO of VetRest, which helps veterans with whatever they need, and asked how he feels about being thanked for his service.
"For me, it's a little different because I'm a senior officer and a little older and mature than a lot of the veterans they are probably asking, so I actually appreciate it," he said. "I just smile and say 'thank you' and 'it was a privilege serving my great country.'"
He continued: "A lot of the Vietnam vets don't know how to react and a lot of the younger kids don't really know how to react either. I just encourage people to keep giving thanks because the more we hear it, the more infectious it becomes. I think it also creates a better environment for all of our veterans. I too also think the many veterans that I've come in contact with for the first time. And sometimes they look at me sort of funny, knowing what my background is, but I still appreciate what every one of our men and women have done for our great nation. I also think those people who support us in many of the activities that we conduct."
I also asked veterans how they feel about being thanked on my Facebook and Twitter:
Scott Helmus: "I just smile and say 'you are welcome.'"
Erin O'Brien: "If a service person doesn’t like 'thank you for your service ...' what would be appropriate? I mean, we have lights and warmth and food and don’t need guards in front of our homes because you served."
Marty Ford: "I am polite when I hear it, but inside it makes extremely upset. Anything the media makes into a cliche and marketing folks create a demographic to hustle rather exploit the cynic in me ... but I keep it to myself and go on with my day."
Tim Devine: "I’ve been a cop for 19 years. It feels uncomfortable to me when people come up and say 'thank you for your service,' but I always smile and just say 'you’re welcome,' and tell them that they don’t have to thank me. I’m just a person who goes to work like anybody else."
Joey Carroll: "One of the veterans I thanked responded with, 'You’re worth it.'"
Great response, Joey.
I think we as Americans should make "Thank You for your service" the starting point from where we really jump into helping them out. After all, they've done so much for us.
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