For the Association of the United States Navy, this is a day we circle on the calendar.
Today, AUSN celebrates the Veterans of the United States Armed Forces. There are 18.2 million Veterans in the United States today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the demographics have been changing drastically in recent years, with Gulf War-era Veterans surpassing Vietnam War-era Veterans to become the largest share of all Veterans.
If you’re a civilian, you may wonder how to treat this day. Do you wish Veterans a “happy” Veterans Day? Do you thank them for your service? Do you simply reflect?
There’s nothing wrong with thanking a Veteran. But this Veterans Day, consider an alternative: ask a Veteran about their service.
A recent poll found that around half of all Veterans were uneasy with being told, “Thank you for your service” — not because they found the sentiment offensive, but because they didn’t know what to say back. And also, it seems like an easy box to check.
The poll also found that Veterans want people to connect with them on a personal level about their service. They’re happy to share their own reflections about their service, and they find it much more appreciative than a simple “thank you.”
So on this Veterans Day, we offer a profound “thank you” to all those who have served their country, and we ask all those who haven’t to reflect, and to take the time to have a meaningful conversation with a Veteran today.