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‘Thank you for your service’ not always most meaningful to military veterans

By Miranda Cross-Schindler

On Veterans Day and throughout the year,  many want to thank veterans for their service, but is saying "Thank you for your service" enough? The statement has become the standard, and although it is always a safe thing to say to a veteran, actions speak much louder than words when it comes to showing your support of our returning veterans.

Nicholas Bures, a senior political science major and OEF Wisconsin National Guard member, says, "What tends to mean a little more to me than a simple thank you are the gestures by people who take time to ask me questions and learn about military service."

"I also feel valued when I see people volunteer their time in the veterans community. Chippewa Falls has a homeless program for veterans and they always welcome donations, volunteers to cook a meal or plan events. Another way to help is to make a donation to the Freedom Honor Flight so a WWII or Korean veteran can fly to Washington D.C. to see the memorials that honor their service."

Institutions of higher learning throughout the county are creating a new array of programs and services to attract and retain veteran students returning to communities. At UW-Eau Claire, our motto is "They Served. We Care." If you look at the variety of quality services we offer to our veteran students, you will see that we live our motto.

Here are some ways you can show your support:

  • Thank them for their service by creating and supporting a veterans center on your campus. If your campus already has one, stop by with your lunch someday and strike up a conversation or bring in baked goods with a personal note.
  • Thank them and show your support by attending campus events that are military related.
  • Thank them by creating or attending a faculty/staff training session that covers military culture, transition topics and campus resources.
  • Thank them by including a line in your syllabus that acknowledges veteran services on campus. This shows your knowledge of the available support services.
  • Thank them by volunteering time at local veterans organizations or with your campus student organization.
  • Thank them by sharing your own veteran status and offering your time and assistance when needed.
  • Thank them by getting to know them. Take time to ask questions and learn what they have been through versus being afraid or disinterested.
  • Thank them by stating, "Thank you for deciding to serve in the military and defend my right to sleep soundly at night, vote, go to college, have a family, etc."

When veterans return from serving their country, will you be ready to serve them? How will YOU thank them for their service?

Miranda Cross-Schindler

Miranda Cross-Schindler, who served in legal administrative support in C Company, 187th Battalion, in San Antonio, Texas, from 1999–2001, is the military education benefits coordinator at UW-Eau Claire. Miranda provides benefits counseling to UW-Eau Claire's approximately 300 veteran students, advocates for the needs of the university's Veterans Center, advises the student Veterans Club and promotes veterans benefits in the community.