General Question

bookish1's avatar

Veteran jellies, how do you feel when people thank you for your service?

Asked by bookish1 (13064 points ) January 18th, 2013

I ask this because I was surprised to hear a veteran around my age tell me recently that he feels patronized when people who haven’t served thank him for his service.

I’ll never forget hearing a Vietnam veteran who was a groundskeeper at my college tell me that no one welcomed him home when he came back.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

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15 Answers

josie's avatar

Since it is an all volunteer service, it is always nice to hear.
I think it was Ronald Reagan who got rid of the draft system [?]. If I had been drafted, I suppose I might be more cynical. If your Vietnam vet got drafted, it is particularly shitty that nobody acknowledged that he was truly imposed upon- he was sent to war against his will. At least when I did it, I went willingly.
But it always feels good when somebody says thank you for anything. Now that I am out of uniform, I don’t hear it much unless it comes up at a party or something. Maybe people who live off of us should start thanking taxpayers. That would really make me feel good.

Pachy's avatar

Thank you’s are few and far between in my work life so I give them often and always appreciate getting them on Fluther and anywhere else.

gambitking's avatar

Well I have been at parties where friends who have been on tours overseas or still active in the military get together.

In most of those cases, they talk sarcastically about this and mostly make fun of it and roll their eyes, swapping stories of the different ways “civvies” have expressed gratitude. I’ve seen them mockingly thanking each other in exaggerated ways as though they were acting as a civilian.

These types view it as empty patronizing gratitude or have been influenced by a community mentality in the military that has become desensitized to the ‘thank yous’ from citizens they are protecting and now view it as a load of crap.

I dunno, I found this odd and it has since made me reluctant to thank servicemen and women when i meet them so I don’t become just another one of those phony ‘thankers’.

bossob's avatar

I volunteered when the draft was winding down, and had evolved into a lottery system to select recruits based on their day of birth. I enlisted months before the next lottery was to be held, and my birthday was 320th on the list. I never would have been drafted.

But I didn’t volunteer to avoid the draft. My objectives were self-serving, and ‘serving my country’ was last on the list. The rare times that I am thanked, I’m a little embarrassed and don’t appreciate the sentiment. I’m polite about it: I just say thank you and keep my feelings to myself.

I’m one of the lucky veterans who was discharged being physically, emotionally, and mentally intact with no issues or scars to live with the rest of my life. What has frustrated me since my discharge is the hollow patronage given to veterans. If someone is sincere when they say thank you, they should be outraged at the dismal support that is given to veterans by the same politicians who send them off to war.

If you truly appreciate your veterans, won’t you please support them with your money, time, or effort. Here is a partial list of veteran support organizations to get you started.

diavolobella's avatar

@gambitking That answer is pretty disappointing to hear. I’m the daughter, sister and partner of veterans and I know they appreciate people thanking them for the service. I also still live in a community which is overwhelming active and retired military and I’ve never experienced what you did. I guess I feel that any time someone is trying to thank you, show you appreciation or treat you with respect in any situation, (not just the military) they deserve your respect in return. Mocking someone who is treating you kindly with what are unquestionably the best possible intentions is shameful. I find it hard to assume that someone would go to the trouble of thanking another person for purely patronizing reasons, especially when there is no benefit to them personally for doing so. It takes a very jaded, hardened viewpoint to make an assumption like that.

KNOWITALL's avatar

If I offended a vet, I would feel like crap, but I feel like the ones I’ve thanked took it well and seemed to appreciate it. They certainly weren’t mean or dismissive.

My family has always served in one of the service as far back as I can remember, including Uncle Sonny Butler who was lost in Vietnam.

My grandpa told me that a lot of service people don’t like to talk about it, but after age 80 grandpa shared a little more, then a little more, and it was heartbreaking, the things he saw.

Thanks to all who served, I truly do appreciate the many freedoms I have still, and I’m not trying to be cheesy or insincere. Hoo-ah!

gambitking's avatar

@diavolobella , yes it was very shocking and disturbing to me to come to that unexpected realization as those events unfolded before me.

I’ve always been very much a patriot and ever-supportive of our military and those who serve therein. Previous to that occasion, I loved the opportunity to thank them. Seeing that behavior changed my mentality about it forever, although I’m holding out the thought that those servicemen were in a tiny minority.

Sunny2's avatar

I just say, with a smile,“You’re welcome.”

woodcutter's avatar

Depends on who it comes from. I think doing that has a certain PC smell to it to some.

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cookieman's avatar

Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I see, in this post-draft world, going in the military as a career choice. My uncle was in Korea, my father Vietnam, and two cousins in the navy twenty years apart from each other. My godson just left for an 8-year service.

And while this is an admirable choice of career, I don’t feel it is any more deserving of appreciation than one who chooses to be an EMT, or school teacher, or social worker.

Are they thanked for their service also? Not in my experience, and certainly not in the cloying, PC, pseudo-patriotic way some people speak of the military.

Conversely, there are people who vilify service people as they would police officers.

In my opinion, the choice of career means nothing independent of the character of the individual. Canonizing someone for that choice is equally as useless as vilifying them.

I say, keep your “thank yous” to yourself. If you really have an interest in supporting any of these careers, do so with your time and your money and your letters to state and local government and with your votes.

bookish1's avatar

@josie: Good point. I feel like, since we don’t have a draft system anymore, that makes it all the more important to remember the people who serve voluntarily. I know that many regard it as a career, but most of the vets my age that I’ve met signed up for economic reasons, because their families couldn’t afford college otherwise, etc. And these soldiers bear the brunt of the political reality that a nationwide draft would just be political suicide, after Vietnam.

@gambitking: Thank you for sharing that story. I’ve never heard of something like that, but I’m not surprised. I’m sure it must be hard to reconcile the “support the troops” mentality with the indifference and rejection alot of civilians have for veterans, especially when they take out their opposition to war on veterans, which I think is so wrong headed and infantile. Hearing from a veteran my age about how he felt patronized definitely made me reconsider, as well. Hence why I asked the question.

@bossob: It is indeed an outrage. I remember during the second Iraq War, when it came out that soldiers didn’t have adequate body armor or armored vehicles. It was disgraceful. And it’s also unforgivable when the politricks want to cut funds to the VA.

@Sunny2: Thank you for sharing your perspective.

Thanks to all; I appreciate the input.

bossob's avatar

I sometimes wonder if the current propensity to thank a vet is fueled by guilt from the rejection of vets during the Viet Nam era when I served, and I wonder how much of that fuel comes from self-serving politicians. Nevertheless, I’m glad to see increasing civilian support for the wounded vets that the war-hawks discard when they’ve ceased to be useful.

As I mentioned, my tour of duty was comparably easy, except for one important topic: There were two prevailing trends at the time: the majority of young folks despised the military, and long hair on men was ‘in’. When I was stateside, my military haircut made me stand out like a sore thumb, and that made it nearly impossible to get layed! I’m still not over it! LOL

woodcutter's avatar

@cookieman Its different from a career choice. Its a contract. You just can’t get out because of personal problems or location dislikes. Usually it is 12 hour days, no overtime pay. It can and often is hard on families. When the military tells you you have to deploy, you will deploy and you don’t need to like it much but you will go when and where they say. Sometimes you leave family back and deal with the separation. You have to mentally tough to deal with the life. Most people would say fuck it and get out at any opportunity. Mostly it is a job most could not do even if they wanted to.

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s nice, but not required. Gratitude is one of the most powerful contributor to happiness, both for the sender and the receiver. It’s more powerful than “smoking cannabis”.

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