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Thank you notes to veterans decorate bulletin boards of a veteran's luncheon at Weber State University on Nov. 10. (Emily Crooks / The Signpost)

Veterans appreciate your gratitude. Here’s how they want to be thanked.

Air Force Staff Sergeant Nathaniel Cragun said that hearing the standard, “Thank you for your service” gets kind of old, but he said he likes when people “actually research the issues, look into the history and look into the role the military has played.”

This reflects a theme among the military personnel at the veteran’s day celebration held in the Shepherd Union Building Nov. 10. They appreciate it when people take the time to understand their sacrifice and talk to them about it.

Dee Gibson, Commander of the Utah department of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, himself a Purple Heart recipient, says he also appreciates a handshake along with the thanks. He said, “It’s been a long time coming, and especially for the Purple Heart recipients.”

Another alternative is to ask them questions about their service to show interest.

“People should not just say ‘Thank you for your service,’” Charlie Chandler, Veterans Services Coordinator at Weber State, said. “But you could ask them questions like, ‘When did you serve?’ ‘What branch of the service were you in?’ But never ask questions like, ‘Did you ever have to shoot or kill anyone?’ Wrong questions. But to be able to say, ‘Where did you serve?’ ‘Where did you go to basic training?’ Questions that open up a discussion.”

Involvement, discussion, understanding and sincerity were highlighted as some of the best ways to show gratitude.

“Just people understanding and having that inner appreciation, not just feeling obligated to go out and say, ‘Hey thanks for what you’re doing.’ Because anyone can thank anyone for what they’re doing. You can thank the garbage man for what he’s doing. But understanding the role that it plays I think is a lot bigger,” said Cragun.

Understanding can go a long way. Jay Wells, finance officer for the Purple Heart and Purple Heart recipient said he also likes when parents teach their kids about veterans.

“I went into Walmart one day and a little kid about 6 years old came up and he looked at me, and he said ‘Thank you for your service.’ And I said ‘You’re welcome.’ He went back and told his mom and dad ‘Mom and Dad, that man has a Purple Heart.’ …and I thought, ‘That is cool.’”

Another way to show veterans how cool they are is to show appreciation year-round instead of the feast-and-famine pattern that they sometimes experience.

Tanesha Schulte, military spouse and daughter, said people should thank veterans all year because they are in the military all year, not just one day. She compared veteran’s day to Valentine’s Day, saying that it is a special holiday but, “You celebrate your sweetheart all year, not just on one day.”

There are lots of ways to show your appreciation throughout the year. Veterans like being thanked for the sacrifices they have made. Remember to try to understand their service and involve them in discussion, not just say a cliche.

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