Tomorrow is Veterans Day (although it’s also being observed today). Many of us would like to take this opportunity to show our appreciation . . . but what’s the best way to do it? In a recent survey, nearly 70% of younger veterans and military personnel say they feel “uncomfortable or awkward” when someone says, “Thank you for your service” to them. It’s mostly a generational thing. Only 24% of military and veterans 65 and older say they feel uncomfortable with it . . . possibly because they’re more used to it.
USAA is using that stat to challenge people to go beyond small talk like that . . . and create “real, positive impacts in the veteran community.” They suggest a few ways you can do this . . .
1. Reach out. Make the first move to connect with a veteran. Make a call, send a text, grab a coffee . . . letting someone know you care is taking action.
2. Ask engaging questions. Open up a two-way conversation. Rather than basically just telling them “thank you for your service,” you can ask open-ended questions about their life and interests. (This is mostly for friends, acquaintances, neighbors, and co-workers. Some veterans may also find it uncomfortable and awkward if they are in the grocery store check-out line, and you start probing, “So, how’s your life? Are you married?”)
3. Actively listen. Be fully present by removing distractions and making eye contact. Giving someone your undivided attention is a sign of respect.
4. Join an initiative. Support and / or spread awareness for veterans causes . . . like “Face the Fight,” which is taking on suicide in the military community.
USAA suggests WeFaceTheFight.org for more info. They provide social media messages to help you spread the word, along with links where you can give, and resources to support veterans in need of help. Military.com has more suggestions on how to honor veterans, and CharityWatch.org has a list of top-rated veterans and military causes.