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.