I am a veteran of the United States Navy. I have been out of the Navy for almost a decade, and I still look back at that time in my life as one of the most important parts of my life. It shaped me. Looking back do I wish sometimes I would have stayed…. yes. However, I can’t change the past so here I am a Veteran not a member of the active duty ranks.
I am also a woman. I am a mother, a teacher, a sister, a daughter, a partner, a friend, and an aunt. I have many labels. For the most part I love these different aspects of my life. They all shape me and are a part of me. The side that gets glazed over the most is certainly Veteran.
There are awkward pauses and looks when I state that I am a veteran. People awkwardly thank me for my service (whatever that means because they have zero idea). After a conversation today with J (also a Navy veteran) and D (an active duty Sailor) we all came to the same conclusion “Thank you for your service” is overused and has lost a lot of meaning.
This past Veteran’s Day I told my students that by all means when you see a veteran thank them. However, take it a step further and engage them. This idea is not all mine I had a Navy Veteran friend post about this topic on Veterans Day and it has stuck with me.
Engage the veteran. Ask what he or she did, what branch they were in, where did they go. I promise you this would blow a Veteran’s mind if you asked these questions and took a few minutes to listen.
Today is not about running (although I did a 5k). Today is about being you and branching out. If you see a veteran I challenge you to ask them questions. If you are a Veteran reach out too. Ask questions about the person that says thank you. Maybe there is a reason they are thanking you. Engage. We can connect.
Until next time,
Go for a run, do something you are passionate about, be kind, engage, be you.