“Thank you for your service.”

We hear it over and over again. Beyond Veterans Day, Armed Forces Day and similar holidays, our Veterans and service members are recognized, thanked and appreciated, as they should be. But, what does “thank you” look like in day-to-day life? Are a sincere “thank you” and a genuine handshake, enough? Of course that is always appreciated and never wrong.

When someone thanks my husband, I always feel proud of his service and appreciated, as a family. My children especially like it when their dad is recognized and appreciated. There are many things about being a military family that are so difficult that those kind gestures take the edge off, and really do help lift our spirits. But, the question still begs, is that enough? And, though there is much hoopla around Veteran’s Day, shouldn’t it be more of a culture of appreciation for the sacrifice of every single U.S. Veteran?

If we fully appreciate what freedom is and what a world looks like it without it, we can begin to be thankful for that every day. Although there are designated days throughout the year to celebrate our freedom, independence, armed forces and veterans, and those summertime dates, from July 4 to National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day on July 27 to National Spirit of ‘45 Day on August 14, that draw our attention to our Veterans.

So, could it be, rather, a cultural shift that every single day is, “Thank a Veteran Day,” which does not fall just in November, but every single day of the year? Of course, that may not be a realistic expectation, but more a mindset shift of being thankful for what veterans did for this country, and simply put, not forgetting or taking for granted their sacrifice. And it must be said, we recognize not just war-time service, although that hold a very special place, but all military service. With this in mind, we would like to revisit some etiquette or rather, more like tips, when it comes to recognizing our more than 20 million veterans.

Simple etiquette, guidelines and tips:

  • If you are related or close to someone serving or who has served, of course, call, send a text and choose a way to convey your thanks often, but certainly thank them on the appropriate holidays. If you have a close relationship with a Veteran ask them often how they are doing, thank them and show interest in their service or past time of service. (If there are trauma issues, navigate this very carefully and use discretion. Of course, seek help if necessary.) Remember, though, thanking someone and being thankful is is a year-round mentality.
  • Thank the spouse and family if you are around them often. We served in a different capacity, but we certainly serve, especially our children.
  • If you have a close relationship, it is certainly nice to take a service member/veteran to lunch or breakfast on a day of service significance. Do we expect that? No. Is it a nice gesture? Absolutely.
  • Send a Veteran’s Day card on the appropriate day or just a simple note of thanks, especially if they have just finished a challenging time during their service.
  • Fly an American flag. Who doesn’t love seeing our Stars and Stripes on a beautiful crisp day?
  • If you have a locally veteran-owned shop, visit and patronize it as much as you are able.
  • Never make light of ones service by making comments that diminish their service. (Sadly, this happens.) Regardless of the branch, time of service/deployment length, reserve/active or area specialty. All service men and women are sacrificing.
  • Pray for our all our service members/veterans and especially those still serving and in dangerous part of the globe.
  • Come alongside a veteran’s family. Small gestures matter. When my husband was deployed during the War on Terror, he, as were we, so grateful for the meals, babysitting, and love and support that were given to us.
  • Hire a veteran. Hire a spouse. If you have the ability and are able to help, step in, do whatever you can if they are transitioning from military life to civilian life.
  • Lastly, tailor your thanks to the veteran/service member you know personally. Choose something we missed. This is not an exhaustive list. But, don’t put it off for “another” day. Every day that we have our freedom, is a good day to thank a veteran.

Are these lofty goals? Possibly. But, I do not think we can revisit enough the importance of recognizing our veterans. Anyone who is tired of hearing about it are most likely in need of a crash course in sacrifice. Spending just five minutes researching the staggering statistics of those serving, our veterans and the ultimate sacrifice many have paid to keep our freedom securely in place will recalibrate almost anyone’s thought process. Many may come to realize, as so many already do, that it is their place and their small part they can do, by always being thankful to our veterans and showing it in both words and deeds.


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