Why ‘Thank You For Your Service’ Bothers Some Veterans

There’s a problem with telling a service member, “Thank you for your service,” because it absolves the thanker of any … Continued

Why ‘Thank You For Your Service’ Bothers Some Veterans

There’s a problem with telling a service member, “Thank you for your service,” because it absolves the thanker of any sense of responsibility beyond those five words. While said with the best of intentions, that phrase serves to highlight the disconnect between those who served and those who did not.

After speaking with Marine veteran Hunter Garth and thanking him for his service, New York Times reporter Matt Richtel realized the level of discomfort on the young veteran’s face. As he dug deeper into why that one phrase elicits so many emotions, he unearthed a trove of reasons with one of the most poignant being: “I pulled the trigger,” said Garth. “You didn’t. Don’t take that away from me.”

James Clark

James Clarkis the Deputy Editor of Task & Purpose and a Marine veteran. He oversees daily editorial operations, edits articles, and supports reporters so they can continue to write the impactful stories that matter to our audience. In terms of writing, James provides a mix of pop culture commentary and in-depth analysis of issues facing the military and veterans community. Contact the author here.

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