Just what do you say to a Veteran to honor the sacrifices they have made for our country?

Does “thank you for your service” come to mind?

Do you know how those 5 simple words make a veteran feel though?

“Really awkward,” says Rico Roman, a retired Army Staff Sergeant who had his left leg amputated above the knee when wounded by an improvised explosive device while serving his third tour in Iraq in Feb. 2007. “I don’t go looking for that kind of recognition. I just say thank you back to people because I know they are sincere, but sometimes I feel very awkward.”

Other veterans spoke out on Army Times voicing the awkwardness of hearing ‘Thanks for your Service.’ “I respond with thanks for saying so. But my buddies and I say it to each other in funny voices on Veterans Day. The public doesn’t know any better,” says one veteran. I read this article back in February about veterans wincing at reflexive gratitude.

I honestly get it. I also know no one sets out to make any veteran feel uncomfortable when they say “Thank you for your service,” but it’s up to us civilians to reframe what we’re saying.

This beautiful Missouri Vietnam Veterans Memorial and Veterans Grove is just outside the entrance to the College of the Ozarks near Branson.

What is the appropriate thing for us civilians to say to veterans so we don’t come across as shallow?

“There’s really no right or wrong thing to say,” says Roman. “There’s some guys that may really need to hear a thank you that day.”

Veterans Day is the day set aside to celebrate and honor all those who have served honorably in the military. Veterans Day is largely intended to thank living veterans for their service and to acknowledge that their contributions to our national security are appreciated.

I don’t like fake and I don’t throw around words loosely. It’s exactly why I don’t want to say something mainstream that may come across as meaningless to those who have served our country.  The problem is I end up saying nothing, because I truly don’t know what to say. I’m working on that.

Here’s what I want to voice to all of our veterans. “I’m in awe and humbled by your courage and strength. I am so grateful you chose to serve when most of us are too afraid, unwilling or unable. You are the true hero in this world and deserve the pedestals that we mistakingly have placed professional athletes and other high profile Hollywood individuals on. I hope you know how much I appreciate your sacrifice and service.”

We all know actions speak louder than words. Veterans say the best thank you that you can give them is to lend support and get personally involved.

How do we know where to begin to support our Vets? 

Keith and I with Rico at Ability360 in Phoenix!

Roman loves Operation Comfort. This Texas based non profit is the reason he is a USA sled hockey paraolympian with a gold medal from Sochi in his hand. While recovering at the Brooke Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Operation Comfort urged athletic Roman to try sled hockey even though he knew nothing about the sport.

Donate what you can to the Semper Fi Fund, which has a matching campaign to raise funds for wounded, critically ill and injured veterans. The challenge is one of the largest matching campaigns in the history of veteran non-profits. Now through December 31, 2015, donations to the Semper Fi Fund and America’s Fund will be matched, dollar-for-dollar.

CNBC also listed their top 10 charities that support veterans if you want more ideas. Let’s make a difference in the lives of our veterans and really thank them for their service by getting involved!

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