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A different perspective on Veterans Day
Old 11-11-2012, 09:44 AM   #1
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A different perspective on Veterans Day

I thought this was an interesting and insightful article on how veterans view the appreciation shown them not only on Veterans Day, but any time we're told "Thank you for your service."

Although I'm appreciative, I'm a bit uncomfortable whenever someone thanks me for my time in the military and could never put my finger on why. I think the article does a good job of describing the reasons for my feelings, particularly this excerpt:

Quote:
Then again, the psychology of this larger unease seems fairly simple to diagnose. These are men and women who willingly sign up* to be exhaustively taught and trained to become part of a vast collective, to think of the greater good and the larger mission, to work seamlessly and selflessly with the soldier, sailor, airman and Marine next to them. They see themselves as teammates, not as individual players.
Your 'thank you' to veterans is welcomed, but not always comfortably received

With the above as background, to all those who have served, who are currently serving and to their families, thank you for your service and sacrifice.

* At least during the past three decades.
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:24 PM   #2
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"Have you hugged a veteran today?"

Yes, I did.
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Old 11-11-2012, 05:43 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by freebird5825
"Have you hugged a veteran today?"

Yes, I did.
Heck, I'm going to sleep with one
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:25 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I thought this was an interesting and insightful article on how veterans view the appreciation shown them not only on Veterans Day, but any time we're told "Thank you for your service."
Yes, and we all know many folks who gave so much more than we did, it's a bit uncomfortable. But I appreciate the thought very much, especially as there were a few decades when it was more rare than today.

I always say "Thanks, from me and for all the others." Seems brief enough, and expresses what I feel.

Nether the conflict in Afghanistan nor the one in Iraq is now wildly popular here, but I'm very happy that people are making a distinction between the war and the warrior.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:33 PM   #5
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Thanks for the article Wahoo.

As a vet of the Vietnam conflict and the cold war I have always felt (still do, I suppose) that all of this "thank you for your service" verbiage is directly linked to the Vietnam war. Most uniformed service members of that era were scorned at one time or another while in uniform. Most of these folks were drafted!

When I returned from RVN in June 1969 we were forbidden to wear our uniform, even on the freedom bird that flew us from Saigon to Travis AFB. I recall having to buy civilian clothes at the PX since I had none to wear home. We were told, as I recall, that our fellow citizens (the folks that we were waring for) looked down on, or even hated, those in uniform.

I still think that we stood out in a crowd with our short haircuts in the days of long/shaggy male hairdos regardless what we wore.

Many soldiers that I knew looked forward to actually wearing their uniform home so that they could display the decorations, ribbons, and badges that the country had awarded them. For most of them, they would be processed out of the military after landing at Travis and would have no other occasion as long as they lived to "wear their sh*t" that they had been awarded.

People who had mistreated returning vets from that war 40 years ago had a chance to make up for their rude conduct and they have overdone it with these current conflicts.

Hope this make sense.
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Old 11-11-2012, 06:55 PM   #6
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"Thank you for your service" comments make vets "uncomfortable"?? Not in my experience. Most feel they were just doing their duty. Some appreciate the greeting, but in reality many do not. Unless "thanks" comes from another vet, active duty, or reservist, most (inc me) just ignore it. Many now feel such comments are often less than truly sincere. My dozen yrs in USAF (res+active) ended just before Gulf War I, and also have worked few years at VA. I've done well, but I see many, many capable hard-working vets who have not. Unemployment rate for post 9/11 vets is almost 10%, and nearly double that for female vets. And suicide rates (active & vets) are 50-100% higher than US ave with far too little being done to address this tragic problem. Personally I (& many I know) see current "thank you's" from much of the public as just feel-good political correctness. Sadly, at times this greeting seems almost satirical coming from those now too busy (uncaring/lazy/whatever) to DO anything to support the nation or its vets. Folks demand funding from their legislators for about everything EXCEPT programs for service members (inc reservists) & vets. Surely no one would argue this past election was mainly (or even partly) decided on veteran's issues. Seems over past few yrs JKF's inaugural ideal has been been subverted to "Ask not what YOU can do for your country, but what your COUNTRY can do for you".

"Thank you for your service"? Don't mean to sound harsh, but actions speak louder than words. Channel that breath into call (or letter) to your legislator demanding support for military/vets issues. Or write a check to reputable veteran's charity.
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Old 11-11-2012, 07:32 PM   #7
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Sadly, at times this greeting seems almost satirical coming from those now too busy (uncaring/lazy/whatever) to DO anything to support the nation or its vets.
We've got a lot of rudeness in this world. When someone says something considerate, I sure don't try to read anything nefarious into it. I've got no idea what else that person does to support vets, and certainly no reason to think he takes their service for granted. It takes nothing to graciously accept the (probably sincere) good wishes of a stranger.
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Old 11-11-2012, 08:25 PM   #8
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We've got a lot of rudeness in this world. When someone says something considerate, I sure don't try to read anything nefarious into it. I've got no idea what else that person does to support vets, and certainly no reason to think he takes their service for granted. It takes nothing to graciously accept the (probably sincere) good wishes of a stranger.
If I came across as rude, please accept my apology. Agree 100% that one has no idea about specific individual's support of military/vet issues. But when all you hear/see are "thank you's" in face of such inadequate concrete assistance to address those major ongoing problems, well....just sayin' it gets tiresome to many vets.
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Old 11-11-2012, 09:29 PM   #9
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Heck, I'm going to sleep with one
Now that's a Thank You!
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Old 11-11-2012, 11:38 PM   #10
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I stopped saying the phrase several years ago, except for WWII and Korea Vets who thank for sharing their stories. Cause it did seem to cause some discomfort.

I figure for the 50 on up crowd part of the reason for the phrase is the truly awful treatment of the Vietnam vets as MickeyD says.

Those who served primarily in the 70,80, 90s were for the most part doing their jobs and generally received adequate pay,benefits etc.

On the other hand those folks who service was primarily in the 2000, have face more deployments, more combat, more separation from loved ones, than any generation since the Revolutionary war. It truly has been big burden for those those career soldiers in their 30 and 40s. I figure a check to Wounded Warriors, Semper Fi, or the host of other similar organization is better thing to do than a thank you for your service.
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:22 AM   #11
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Mostly I don't intrude, but as a 65+ vet, I say it to whoever I like.

I get conversations started with my custom-made "Old Army" tee-shirt. Can't get that with Old Navy, can you?
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:29 AM   #12
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Mostly I don't intrude, but as a 65+ vet, I say it to whoever I like.
I had no idea you were that old...
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:53 AM   #13
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Old 11-13-2012, 07:34 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by REWahoo View Post
I thought this was an interesting and insightful article on how veterans view the appreciation shown them not only on Veterans Day, but any time we're told "Thank you for your service."
Although I'm appreciative, I'm a bit uncomfortable whenever someone thanks me for my time in the military and could never put my finger on why. I think the article does a good job of describing the reasons for my feelings, particularly this excerpt:
Your 'thank you' to veterans is welcomed, but not always comfortably received
With the above as background, to all those who have served, who are currently serving and to their families, thank you for your service and sacrifice.
Good article.

I wonder if humans are just uncomfortable at being thanked for indirectly benefiting someone whom they don't know. How do firefighters, police officers, and EMTs feel when a stranger approaches them on the street with the same comment?

I wonder if volunteer veterans are just uncomfortable at being thanked for a job that they wanted to do in the first place. I joined for the challenge and the cool gear, but somewhere along the way I turned into a hunter. There's a difference between being a defensive "security guard" versus offensive killing. I never thought of that as a game, but by our scorekeeping I was certainly good at it. Today I'm a member of Facebook's "Cold War Submarine Veterans" group, which includes a number of Russian submariners whom I used to be so willing to kill. We understand each other pretty well, but we find it hard to explain to "outsiders" why the Cold War mentality was that way.

I still haven't found the answers to those question, so I'll move on to a more cheerful subject. USAA has a production studio that makes professional videos, including this two-minute vignette:
It brings tears to my eyes. Corny, cheesy, but... it still hits me right between the demographic eyeballs. Send it to your favorite Vietnam vet.

My daughter was voluntold to help with the Veterans Day ceremony at her college. I got a panicked e-mail about "Help me write my speech!" but she did just fine: Rice honors veterans

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I stopped saying the phrase several years ago, except for WWII and Korea Vets who thank for sharing their stories. Cause it did seem to cause some discomfort.
I say "Welcome home!" a lot, and later I follow up with "So, how are you sleeping?" It's an invitation to talk about it.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:16 PM   #15
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:21 PM   #16
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..."Thank you for your service"? Don't mean to sound harsh, but actions speak louder than words. Channel that breath into call (or letter) to your legislator demanding support for military/vets issues. Or write a check to reputable veteran's charity.
Or show up in person...

Mr B is very active in the Legion and VFW community. He is a 10% disabled vet.
He does tax returns for vets for nothing or a very small fee if they insist on paying him, he takes questions and does the research to get the answers in real time, he cooks for fundraisers, he is a Legion Commander and an Officer at the County level, and probably a zillion more things I can't keep track of.

I am a Legion Auxiliary member. I used to drive for the DAV Transportation Network until the winter weather made me feel unsafe to be at the wheel of a 12 passenger van. These days I cook for fundraisers, help with setup and cleanup, and spend a lot of time talking to that elder veteran who comes into a post and sits all by himself. I have created many a smile just by saying hello. I buy every fundrasier raffle ticket that crosses my path. I drive my Mustang in an annual parade, transporting a color guard member who can no longer march. I take photos of commemorative events and display them at the posts.

We both do flag placement in cemeteries. He has attended wakes and funerals and has done the flag presentation to families.

Don't put either one of us in for sainthood. We truly love doing these things.
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Old 11-13-2012, 08:49 PM   #17
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DW makes it a point to approach uniformed soldiers and thank them for their service. I have yet to see anyone reject it, all of them say thank you and sincerely.

DW knows; our son is in the Special Operations group, served one tour in Afghanistan. Saw his platoon commander killed during an attack on their base. One of his peers, an E-6, got killed as he tried to defuse an IED.

Yes, we are well aware of the risks and dangers they face. These men & women put their lives and futures on the line each and every day they are there.

I am proud of my son. And I myself am a vet ( Infantry Captain ). And I will never think bad of anyone who approaches to thank me for my service - never.


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Old 11-13-2012, 10:08 PM   #18
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Good article.

Today I'm a member of Facebook's "Cold War Submarine Veterans" group, which includes a number of Russian submariners whom I used to be so willing to kill.
While I'll admit to never serving in the military, the main reason is that Canada skipped the Vietnam war, and I was the right age for that one.

I did have an interesting day at the Royal Canadian Legion once, though. A friend and I were walking past the Legion hall on our way to get something to eat. A guy was cooking bugers by the door. My friend says "smells good". He invites us in, it's "buck a beer and buck a burger day" (I'm sure you can figure out how long ago that was if you are a Canuck). We go in and have a beer and burger, on the way out our 'host' asks me what I thought. I said "great time, thanks". He says "why don't you join?". I say "I never served in the military". He says "you don't have to have served, you're the right age, I bet your DF was in WWII". I say "yes, he was". He says "you can be a member" and to my friend he says "your dad too, I bet". Friend says "yes, but he was on the other side" (friend's dad served in the German army in WWII). Our host says "doesn't matter, he was there". We both joined.

I remember my dad favouring veterans of WWII with his business although he never joined the RCL. Since he was long dead when this happened, I wonder what his reaction would have been.
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Old 11-14-2012, 05:29 PM   #19
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Vietnam vet here.

I had never heard any sort of thank you comment until (this is vivid in my memory) a little over five years ago.

I was getting into my car in the parking lot of a motel in Rutland, VT. I noticed a guy, slightly younger than me, walking straight toward me. My license plate indicates than I'm a Vietnam vet, and he stopped at my door. I got out, and he shook my hand and said "Welcome home."

That was the first time anyone had said anything remotely similar in the 35 years since I returned, and it brought tears to my eyes and absolutely struck me speechless. When I was unable to reply, he began to get a little uncomfortable, and just said "I thought you should hear that." and left. I kind of mumbled some thanks, but it was such an emotional experience that I was stunned to the point of seeing it as a surreal event.

It immediately brought back that flight home to Travis AFB in early 1972, and the fairly nasty treatment I got at SFO before my flight home.

In the ensuing years since that occurrence, I have heard "Thank you for your service." many times, and I've become comfortable with responding "Thanks for your support." or simply "Thank you." I believe it has largely been through the efforts of the Vietnam vets that the public attitude has changed so dramatically, and obviously this is a good thing. I also make an effort to thank younger vets whenever I can. They seem to take it more gracefully than I did, so that also shows a very positive cultural change.

As has been said many times, we don't really need the thanks; that's not why we served. We wanted to serve our country, and we did what needed to be done. Unspoken appreciation is fine, and simple respect for what we did is plenty.

My father was a WW II vet, severely wounded in Italy, and he treasured his membership in the local VFW post because it was one of the few places he felt really comfortable. We don't tend to be joiners in that sense so much anymore, but feeling comfortable in the society we live in is something everyone needs.
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:02 PM   #20
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I used to say "Thank you for your service", but now I carry on long conversations with vets. It seems like they are more comfortable with a friendly chat. I used to talk with my dad about his service in the navy(Korea). I still chat with my former boss about his days in the trenches of Vietnam. And I enjoy spending time with a friend's son - a navy pilot. And a conversation i had last month with a vet while we waited outside of a store while our wives were shopping. One common thread from all of these guys is their commitment to our country and freedom. Truly amazing.
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