There seems to be something of a backlash lately against the phrase, “thank you for your service” that is uttered by so many, everywhere around the nation, to members of the military and veterans. I have seen quite a few articles expressing a similar point of view; that being that people should stop saying it because in doing so they delude themselves into thinking that they are thereby absolved of the responsibility for doing anything more.
I am not among those who feel this way. While my husband was deployed I heard this phrase often, from both friends and strangers. For me, it was somewhat comforting to feel that, even if only for the brief moment that the words were being offered, someone’s thoughts were of gratitude for his sacrifice. The energy of that served to fill my storehouse at a time when I was running on empty. I acknowledge that the phrase can seem trite and inauthentic, especially to soldiers who return from serving in a war zone to less than ideal conditions at home – suffering from PTSD, facing a scarcity of jobs, dealing with assorted stresses associated with re-integrating into civilian life… These are not conditions that can be vanquished with the utterance of a few simple words.
There is always more that can be done, and undoubtedly more that should be done. If you truly feel thankful, marry that thought with action, and the sincerity of it will become evident. You can get involved with a local veteran’s group, or offer assistance to a particular military family with whom you are acquainted (based on what they need), or donate money to causes that benefit veterans or active duty soldiers. It is my hope that people will be moved to do these things and more, contributing beyond the oft-said words of appreciation.
But the essence of it is that it all begins with an expression of gratitude. An attitude of thankfulness for the sacrifices our military members and their families make. An acknowledgement that there is indeed something to be grateful for. Speaking these words does let the soldiers themselves know that they are thought of, and appreciated by the wider community. And though it seems that some don’t think that means a lot, I think it’s an excellent start. As long as it doesn’t end there.
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