Some United States veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are speaking out about the “thank you for your service phenomenon.”
“Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service? Many people, it turns out,” according to a New York Times report.
Mike Freedman, who served as a Green Beret, refers to this issue as the “thank you for your service phenomenon.”
The New York Times reports: “To some recent vets — by no stretch all of them — the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters. To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.”
“‘Thank you for your service,’ … is almost the equivalent of ‘I haven’t thought about any of this,'” according to Freedman.
Some veterans “find that “something in the stomach tumbles” from expressions of appreciation that are so disconnected from the “evil, nasty stuff you do in war,” suggests Tim O’Brien, a Vietnam War veteran and noted author who was interviewed for the New York Times article.
Many veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan attend classes at my campus, Northern Illinois University. I think that students and faculty at NIU and other universities would benefit from reading the article in the New York Times and reflecting on how to communicate effectively with veterans and how to discuss their military service.