Five words are all it takes to make the difference in a service member's life. We see men and women all the time who are either currently serving in our Armed Forces or wearing apparel that tells us that they served. I strongly encourage you to take a moment, stop them, and say, "Thank you for your service."
My dad used to have a sticker on his laptop from the Military Order of the Purple Heart that read, "If you enjoy your freedom, thank a vet." The truth in that statement is part of the reason why our Nation has been so successful in defending our way of life. With very little exception, our military services have been an all-volunteer force. Today, every man and woman in uniform is there, defending us and our families, because they raised their hand. We can go to sleep at night in peace, without fear because our Nation asked for their help, and they stepped up to the plate. We need to be sure that our veterans know how much we appreciate their sacrifice.
There's never an inappropriate time to thank a service member. No matter where they're going or what they're doing, it's always the right time to stop them for a few seconds and to thank them. In elevators, on mass transit systems, at restaurants, in airports, in shopping malls, or even just walking down the street. Whenever you see a service member in uniform, stop and thank them.
It's important to not just thank those currently serving. We are where we are today thanks to the countless veterans who've served in armed conflict and in peace time throughout the past century. Many of the older veterans are easily spotted with their signature hats or jackets. You might even spot a few others who have custom t-shirts or who are wearing the pin of a service medal that they earned. When you see one of these individuals, thank them, too! The thanks from a member of the public means a lot to those currently serving, but even more to those who served honorably long ago. It's a reminder to these older veterans that their service is not forgotten.
I've written many times about setting the right example for your kids, and this is another small habit that you need to pass on. At any time, in any place, when you see someone who is currently serving in the military or a veteran who served in days gone by, give them the courtesy of five simple words to express your gratitude, "Thank you for your service."