WASHINGTON — Veterans Day is a holiday across the U.S. created to honor former military members, and many express their gratitude by thanking vets for their service in the armed forces. But according to a poll commissioned by the Cohen Veterans Network, 49% of veterans don't actually like to be thanked.
The Cohen Veterans Network is a national not-for-profit organization of mental health clinics for post 9/11 vets and military families. The poll results show 49% of vets feel uneasy with the expression, "Thank you for your service."
Cohen Veterans Network polled among 2,019 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 218 are U.S. military veterans or active duty service members.
According to the poll, 91% of civilians have thanked a veteran for their service, but nearly half of the veterans and active-duty service members who participated in the poll feel uncomfortable being thanked.
When asked if they were comfortable when civilians say "Thank you for your service," a veteran staff member at the Cohen Clinic said yes.
"I do feel very uncomfortable when civilians say thank you for your service, because I don't know what to say back," the staff member said.
The poll also found that 88% of Americans believe there should be more programs available to help the divide between military members and civilians.
Additionally, 24% of Americans said they would feel uncomfortable talking to a veteran they just met about their service in the U.S. military.
So what can you do instead?
The poll revealed that a majority of veterans and active-duty service members wouldn't mind if a civilian asked them them the following specific questions about their time in the military:
- When did you serve? (71%)
- Where were you stationed? (71%)
- What was your job while serving? (73%)
The Cohen Veterans Network said instead of thanking a vet for their service, show support in a way that's personal and meaningful instead.
For example, "I appreciate you and all of the sacrifices you and your family have made."
The poll also said 58% of the service members polled prefer other donate or volunteer with a veteran-related organization to show their appreciation for the military.
While 39% of people polled weren't sure how to start a conversation with a veteran, the study said to just ask a question to learn about their service.