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New poll shows nearly half of veterans uncomfortable with phrase “thank you for your service”


The sound of a 21-gun salute filled the air Monday morning at the Coachella Valley Cemetery in Coachella, where veterans, active duty service members, family and friends gathered for a Veterans Day event to honor those who have served and those who are serving.

"Service to this country, one of the greatest countries in the world, is such an amazing feeling," said Sergeant Major Hank Eylicio.

Veterans we spoke with are not surprised to learn the results of a new poll, which shows that 49 percent of veterans and active duty service members are "uncomfortable" being thanked for their service.

The poll was commissioned by Cohen Veterans Network, a national non-profit network which provides mental health services to veterans.

"I didn't join the military just to be recognized, and say hey thank you for your service, but it is appreciated, I do appreciate that gratitude," said Indio U.S. Army veteran Roy Lagpacan.

Eylicio will retire next year after 35 years of service, which includes combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While appreciating being recognized for his service, he too is uncomfortable hearing "thank you for your service".

He says it brings to mind friends who have died while serving and those left with debilitating injuries.

"So when you thank a veteran just remember that he thinks a little bit deeper with regard to that thanks. He is remembering those who can't receive that gratitude," said Eylicio.

Air Force veteran Gene Hobdy says being thanked for his service makes him and other fellow vets wonder and ask themselves if they "could have done more" while serving.

"My PTSD comes from remorse, those who gave so much, those who gave all. Sometimes I feel I don't deserve as much as other people do," said Hodby.

According to the survey, vets and active duty members don't prefer gratitude in the form of a simple platitude.

They prefer an expression that aims for a more personal connection.

A majority of the vets surveyed prefer being asked questions like "where did you serve?", "where were you stationed?", and "what was your job while serving?".

Another approach Hobdy suggested is to express thanks and support to vets by saying to them:

"God bless our veterans, or, veterans are in our thoughts."

According to the CVN commissioned survey, 91 percent of Americans have used the phrase "thank you for your service".

More information about the survey can be found here:

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.


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