When I was in basic training, my drill sergeants would always say, “Don’t thank me, thank your recruiter” when I thanked for them for teaching me something or helping me out. I didn’t understand it at the time, and it seemed a little odd to me. I get it now. Drill sergeants are bombarded by a thousand “Thank yous” a day from privates who have no idea about how to do anything or what the Army is even about. They didn’t want privates to thank them, they wanted us to learn and they wanted us to take action.

This Veterans Day, I am taking that lesson that was taught to me in the desolate Ft. Sill landscape and using it again.

Don’t just thank me for my service, do something.

There are myriad things anyone can do to thank me and those like me for our service without uttering the oft-used and often empty, “Thank you for your service.”

Help a homeless Vet. Look into ways to help Veterans in need in your community and surrounding ones. Veterans still have a high rate of homelessness. Secretary Shinseki has made it a priority to end Veteran homelessness, but we need help from local communities to accomplish that worthy goal. Research a charity in your area that helps the homeless or take some time to give out food and supplies at a shelter.

Hire a Vet. Veterans are especially hard hit in these tough economic times. If you own a company, hire a Vet. Get involved with organizations that give Veterans job training or provide opportunities for Vets to interview and be placed in a job. Know a Vet that needs some help with a job? Give that Vet some help with a resume, job search tips and interview help.

Do something for our wounded Veterans. There are tons of organizations that help our wounded troops. Do the research and find one that is reputable and do what you can to help. Some organizations even have coupons that you can use when you go to the grocery store that give you a discount and give some money back to the organization. Use ‘em. Buy that extra deodorant. You know you will need it eventually.

Get informed on national, state and local VA issues. Do the research. Look things up. Inform yourself. And vote. Get to know your Members of Congress and Senators, a good number of them host Veterans events. See if you can help out there.

So this Veterans day, don’t just thank me. Do something to get involved, do something for all of the men and women who served. Just try not to be too offended if I say “Don’t thank me, thank my recruiter.” I’ll try not to be too offended if you still feel the need to say thanks.

Brian McGough is a Veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. He was wounded in Mosul, Iraq and now works for the Department of Veterans Affairs in the Office of Congressional and Legislative Affairs.

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Published on Nov. 8, 2011

Estimated reading time is 2.6 min.

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  1. Troy November 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    That is not what he is saying, he is just asking people to action behind the words. Continue to thank them, just be open to other ways to thank them!

  2. Patrick Cuddihy November 14, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Bear the burden would be fine if only that burden were shared at the highest level, but it never is! Those politicians who have in some way contributed usually exploit and milk their fifteen minuets for self gain! When ever I hear of Vets, and in particular Marines, I am reminded of Ira Hayes and the song by Johnny Cash; the take your soul, your dignity and often your life from the security of the Oval Office, and when you have the audacity to survive and return home you are thrown to the scrapheap of humanity! Sure there will be the token gesture remembrance parades and speeches; after all there may well be a vote in it, but at the end of the day old soldiers are left to fade away into oblivion! My respect to the Marines, and to soldiers and navy everywhere, you earn your pay! But! Perhaps there was never a better time than the present to really defend ones country, to reclaim it back from Corporate Control before it’s too late; after all that is what the Constitution is all about!

  3. David W.Heiser November 13, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Brian, I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s a lot of hype around Veterans Day and plenty of discounted or free offers for active duty and veterans. And that’s all great. But then comes Nov. 12, 13, 14… And there are still too many unemployed and/or homeless veterans, those suffering visible or invisible damage, attacks on benefits by representatives who never served, etc. Most of us are not in a position to actually hire someone but we could send a card or small donation or steer a veteran towards the VA’s eBenefits or “My Next Move for Veterans” websites. Those of us fortunate to have a job could educate our bosses on the ease and benefits of hiring a veteran.

    • Brian November 15, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Agreed. Those are some really good ideas.

  4. SD Kintz November 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    You have just stopped me from thanking Veterans for their services. I did not realize that gratitude was offensive.

    • Brian November 15, 2011 at 9:51 am

      I think you misunderstood. I want people to do something. Get off your fifth point of contact to show me you are grateful for my service.

  5. Charles T. Cauthen November 9, 2011 at 11:07 am

    Brian, The Army makes good men out of boys. We learn a lot from our military training. Next Friday is our day to remember our losses, not the fallen, because as long as we are alive, They will never be forgotten. They can’t receive a “thank you for your service”. For the VA to “DO the RIGHT THING” would be more appropriate.

  6. Dan November 8, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Great advice on how to help veterans all year.

    However, I would like to take exception to ever being offended when someone thanks you for your service. If, like me, you were a Vietnam veteran who waited decades before anyone ever said those five little words, you may have a different outlook. Many Vietnam vets, when coming home were spat upon and called vile names. Many of us became “closet vets.” It was our generation of veterans that has made sure that the sacrifice of men and women in the military are never denigrated because of the politics of the time. I have only been thanked for my service 4 times. All of those “thank yous” came in the last five years and I appreciate them more than words can express.

    So, Brian and to all my fellow veterans and to those still on active duty, thank you for your service.

    • Troy November 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      I understand what Brian is saying, but agree with your point. Saying thank you, is the least that we can and should do every time we have the opportunity. While I served in the National Guard in the 90’s, but was never deployed, I have a hard time putting myself in the same group as someone like yourself. Thank you for your service!

    • Mike DOyle November 15, 2011 at 8:29 am

      Thank You Don for your service and sacrifice, Semper Fi.

    • Brian November 15, 2011 at 9:47 am

      There is no doubt in my mind that the amount of gratitude the troops today get is a direct result of the country’s guilt for treating returning Veterans for Vietnam as something to look down on and not treating them as something to be proud of. Most of you guys didnt have a choice, but you went, you fought, you bled and you sacrificed…for your buddies, for your country and for your own self.

      There is no amount of thanks I could ever give to the Vietnam Vets who were treated like crap, but I will never forget you all. I will never be the one to say that only my generation of Veterans matter. I will never forget and will do my best so that others dont forget either.

    • Diane November 17, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Thank you Dan! I appreciate your service so much. <3

      Note: I have a brother named Dan who served in the Vietnam War. And if it's you, come visit sometime! :-)

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