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‘Please don’t thank me’ — What are the best ways to honor military veterans and active duty?

A woman holds up a sign that says
A woman holds up a sign that says "Thank You" during the Veteran's Day Parade on November 11, 2013 in New York City.
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

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On this day when we honor veterans of military service, what are the best ways to show our appreciation? Is it in verbally thanking someone in uniform for his or her service? 

KPCC's Veterans and Military Reporter John Ismay, a veteran himself, talked to AirTalk about his thoughts on verbal appreciation and what service members he has spoken with have shared with him. Ismay says sometimes showing appreciation is more important for civilians than for actual service members.

"I think the person who is in uniform is pretty OK with being in uniform or else they wouldn't have volunteered, or they'd probably get out," he said. "[Civilians], they have this feeling that they want to share [with service members]."

Some professional sports teams in Major League Baseball have thanked service members by introducing them between innings. A recent Senate review of military recruitment spending shows that nearly $7 million in federal money has been paid to pro sports teams to honor service members. Ismay said that he feels while receiving appreciation is nice, giving money out to show appreciation can change things. 

"Whenever someone wants to say thank you or appreciate what we do, it basically always comes from a good place and you can't be upset," he said. "When it's just sort of done as a result of somebody getting paid, that's a different story."  

Ismay says some military service members don't feel appreciative of this kind of military spending.

"I think talking to [military] friends of mine [who have gotten out] or seeing what they post [on social media], they feel like it's emotionally manipulative," he said.

So what is the best way to show your gratitude to a service member? Here are some ways that members of the AirTalk audience, including some veterans, said that people could give back:


John Ismay, KPCC’s Veterans And Military Issues Reporter