Las Vegas Sun

April 21, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

A better way to thank a veteran

As a veteran who served in every clime and place for two decades, I find it interesting how it is now in vogue to thank veterans for their service.

Service members receive this from complete strangers, who mean well. This gesture frankly leaves me with a feeling similar to a weak handshake.

I am old enough to remember the Vietnam War and the senseless display of the civilian community toward service members as they returned home from a very complicated war that was lost at the strategic, political level but won at the tactical level by very brave and patriotic Americans. How the pendulum has swung.

I now wince when a service member is labeled a hero just for being in uniform. Is it necessary to dilute the term hero and add a gratuitous thank-you for our service?

Does that now make the media feel better? Does it make you feel better? Everyone feel good?

We all volunteered. We understand what we are getting into. Most serve honorably. I have been rewarded many times over. We volunteer to protect the values we are blessed with in a country that is still a jewel to live in. We do not volunteer to be thanked or to be labeled as heroes. Nor do we solicit for such proclamations.

Next time you see a service member, instead of thanking them, why not take the time to volunteer to give back to the local community? To this veteran, that is a sincere, more meaningful thank you.

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  1. The letter writer is correct. Not everyone who wears the uniform of this country is a "hero"; I reserve that title for those who have been killed or maimed, and those who have earned Purple Hearts, Bronze or Silver Stars, or the ultimate award for heroism, the Medal of Honor. Deciding to join the military during a war is Patriotic, but not heroism. There are also other reasons people join the military, not the least of which is purely economic: IT'S A JOB. I commend those who join voluntarily, and since there is no draft, all are volunteers. Still, they are the 1% who serve, and if necessary, fight this nations wars; once again Patriotic. Those of us who have served at least 20 years are compensated for that service for the rest of our lives; again purely economic. My pension is factored into my lifestyle, and helps me economically. That is thanks enough for me.

  2. Our Vietnam vets of yesterday who were mostly drafted to fight in a far away and unpopular war,were not treated very well once they returned home from the war front. Most did not ask to go but did so out of loyalty for their country when called upon to fight in a distant land.

    Today's veteran's are the sons and daughters of America's Vietnam vets of yesterday and other patriotic American families, are all volunteers fighting in far off lands.They all deserve a pat on the back for their courage to step forward and do the job that may cost him or her life or limb.

    I think Americans in general have come to realize that today's military people of all branches of service should not have to face any ridicule when called to war, like their brothers and sisters had to face during the Vietnam era.

  3. samspeaks: I served from 1968 until the Viet Nam war ended, and continued to serve until I retired in 1988.

    I never experienced any bad treatment, or ridicule after returning from any deployment.

    You are correct; most didn't ask to go: THEY WERE DRAFTED. Today's volunteers have an option: DON'T ENLIST. Those who don't face no penalty of any kind. Many joined for the opportunities military life provides, and others because they simply needed a job. Now, as the economy recovers, and sequestration is in effect, military entrance requirements are tightening up. Now, some willing to volunteer are not selected.

  4. Gary Lind,

    No doubt you and millions of others are true patriots for doing what was asked of you in time of war.We have a strong military, all volunteers who decided on which branch of service was best for them and the country.

  5. Peter, I was there too. I agree with much to all of what you said. I'd like to see the "thanks" as volunteering to held SENIORS / retirees, citizens in real need. Help the aged Vets, the widows and widowers of Vets, the adult children of Vets who didn't see much of their parents. It'd be just fine to help their friends too. I too don't need light lip service thanking "my service." I'm female and many people tell me to thank a Vet without their realizing I'M THE VET--command post, combat alert center, jet fighters on alert....

  6. Re LastThroes: You are correct. It was a great letter, and the weak handshake is the same way I feel about it. I served, voluntarily, even with a draft in place, and retired honorably. People who come up to me, and I must say, I don't advertise my service, should be wearing a paper bag over their head, unless they have served: the handshake will then be firm, and come from the heart.