Of course, that assumes that all of the people out there claiming to be veterans actually are veterans. My police pals inform me that the only uniform most of these frauds have ever worn is an orange jumpsuit. A vet can always tell a fake – asking for a DD 214 and getting a blank stare back is usually a pretty good tip-off.
We vets aren’t victims. We aren’t pawns to be used to justify giving handouts to couch-dwellers. We aren’t asking for anything except to be taken care of when injured – and we shouldn’t have to ask for that.
Vets are humble – the guy who tells you how he was a war hero invariably wasn’t. But because our military has grown so remote from most Americans’ lives, many civilians are unsure how to express their gratitude toward their warriors. Here’s how:
If you see an guy in a ball cap that reads “World War II Vet,” “Korea Vet” or “Vietnam Vet,” ask about it. Make sure your kids listen. These heroes won’t be with us forever, and their stories need to be told. I remember speaking at a function and sitting next to an unassuming gentleman who turned out to have landed at Normandy. For a military guy, this was like being a garage band guitarist who got seated next to Pete Townsend.
Citizens often want to reach out to warriors they see in uniform around town or at airports. That’s great. A “Thanks” and a handshake, even a hug, is appropriate.
Now, this will fluster the warriors. The warriors will tell you they are just doing their job, and they mean it. Most warriors are baffled that someone is thanking them because they know so many people they feel truly deserve it. Thank them anyway.
Sometimes a warrior in uniform at a restaurant will find his tab paid when he asks for the check. This happens a lot. If you feel compelled to do it, any senior sergeant or officer will tell you to save that for the younger troops. They get paid less and they do the really hard work.
If you want to say “Thanks,” but you aren’t where there are a lot of warriors around, then why not help out Operation Gratitude or Wounded Warriors? Do you own a business? Think about hiring a vet. I did, and she’s awesome.
Regardless of how you choose to do it, on this Veterans Day, let’s honor our warriors – including deployed ones like my pals Jon and Don. Instead of treating them like losers in need of pity, let’s treat them like what they are – heroes.
The opinions expressed here are those of Kurt Schlichter alone and not of those of any governmental organization.