Tips for Military Appreciation
Congress designated May as National Military Appreciation Month in 1999 to ensure that our nation was given an opportunity to publicly demonstrate their appreciation for the sacrifices and successes made by service members past and present. But what does that really mean?
I am commonly approached by people who learn about my military service with good intentions, but I feel as if sometimes people do not know what to say if they have never themselves experienced life in the armed forces. Therefore, I wanted to convey to everyone four tips for military appreciation based on surveys done by active military and military veterans by military.com.
Tip No. 1. Skip the sympathy – give gratitude.
There is an old cadence that I remember from my Army days that says, “Don’t you cry him no tears, he don’t need your sympathy, he’s an airborne ranger, that’s all he’ll ever be.” Members of our modern military chose their service, unlike veterans from the past who may have been drafted into service.
Regardless, a “thank you” and encouraging words make us proud. Conversely, telling us that it must have been hard and apologizing for how difficult our time in the service was does not exactly make us feel warm and fuzzy, so skip the sympathy.
Tip No. 2. If your business offers a discount – let people know.
First things first; most veterans are not looking for a handout. That being said, a lot of businesses have military discounts if you ask for one. Because most of my brothers and sisters-at-arms won’t ever ask for it, if you want to show your appreciation for those that served by offering a military discount, post a sign. Not only will more military folks potentially frequent your business, but it gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your appreciation.
Tip No. 3. Please don’t ask me about Blackhawk Down or Lone Survivor.
Yes, I understand that Hollywood has done a spectacular job of portraying all military service as torturous and dismal. The unfortunate reality is those events did occur (not necessarily the way you saw it in the movie), but the majority of service people have never experienced something so intense as what is portrayed in the movies, and trust me; those that have don’t want to talk about it. That being said, try to avoid cliché moments or questions about specific missions that a particular serviceman was involved in.
It makes a lot of veterans (especially combat veterans) uncomfortable. You’re better off just giving us a smile and if you’re really curious about what we did the better question is: “What did you do in the military?” That gives a service member the opportunity to tell you as much, or as little, as they feel comfortable with.
Tip No. 4. Don’t forget the spouses.
We know everybody appreciates the hard work and dedication of those with “boots on the ground”. What many people don’t recognize is there are just as many spouses and children who serve their country because their husband or wife is deployed. What that means in simple terms is that these civilian spouses not only function as single parents, but there is also the added stress of knowing that your loved one is in harm’s way. In other words, thank the spouses. If it wasn’t for them, our service members’ lives would be far less pleasant.
If you really want to show your appreciation to a military family that you know has a loved one on “deployment”, do something nice that’s unexpected, mow their lawn, help watch the kids when they’re playing, give a spouse an afternoon off just to breathe. Those gestures of kindness are far more valuable than most people realize.
If you want more information about military events and the military community, feel free to look up resources on military.com or other websites that support our service members and their families.