KIRO NEWSRADIO OPINION

Colleen: How do you thank a veteran?

Nov 10, 2023, 1:00 AM | Updated: 11:10 am

Image: A U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran attends a Memorial Day event at the Santa Fe National Ce...

A U.S. Army and Vietnam War veteran attends a Memorial Day event at the Santa Fe National Cemetery in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The cemetery is administered by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. (Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, Dave and I spoke with Dan Clare, a Marine and Air Force veteran who now works for the Disabled American Veterans Organization.

Their mission is to make it easier to claim veterans’ benefits, among other things. Other things they do include helping veterans shed the stereotypes that hold them back in civilian life, something as basic as getting a job.

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“Unfortunately, if someone has PTSD or a traumatic brain injury from military service, there’s that ‘crazy veteran stereotype,'” Clare said. “It’s fairly pervasive, and it makes it a lot harder for veterans to reintegrate into civilian life.”

Coming home after seeing, experiencing, and sometimes becoming victim to the horrors of war, then being ostracized, left unhoused, unwanted, and underappreciated. Yeah, that’ll give anyone an edge.

And I think the stereotype goes beyond the workplace. That’s why it sometimes feels awkward to thank a veteran, that man in the grocery store with his military hat, the co-worker who you know battles the invisible scars of war every day.

But Clare said to do it anyway, even if the conversation makes you or them uncomfortable.

“Veterans are a very humble group of people. But I think that they appreciate it. You know, you don’t necessarily want to lead a conversation with, ‘how many people did you kill when you were in Iraq?’ We hear from people sometimes that there’s some awkward interactions there,” Clare said. “But veterans should want to talk about their service. And even if you lead with something awkward, don’t be afraid to do it because veterans are tough people. They’re tough, competent people.”

“They’re going to work you through it. And I think we’ve seen in the surveys we’ve done that overall, veterans really appreciate those thank yous,” Clare said.

Thank you is the least we can do. The Disabled American Veterans Organization also needs volunteers to help care for veterans. It’s a good way to show someone still cares beyond enjoying our freedom.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Colleen: How do you thank a veteran?