Like many people, when I see a military veteran, I will say “Thank you for your service.” Of course, this is a sincere expression of gratitude and it is appreciated. However, I’ve recently been in the company of veterans at The Homefront Foundation and have learned more about their stories, and this has opened my eyes to these men and women as unique individuals with widely different experiences.
The Homefront Foundation, a non-profit founded by Matt and Mark Fetterman, twin brothers and former navy helicopter pilots, helps returning veterans learn to tell their stories as a way to reconnect with their communities after serving. Mark and Matt taught me that most of us don’t know much about veterans and often assume that they are either heroes or PTSD victims. “In truth, most of us are neither,” the Fettermans told me. “Most of us have done our job, and now we’re ready to come home.”
One veteran’s story had more to do with a difficult life he led prior to his service that caused him to find purpose in the military. And another described how returning to civilian life was truly traumatic as he struggled to fit in to new and unfamiliar circumstances.
So as we celebrate Veteran’s Day, see if you can go beyond the simple “Thank you for your service!” and engage a veteran in conversation.
Like all of us, their stories are unique, and will provide greater insight into who they are and why they served.
Ariel works with many non-profits as part of Ariel Serves, our outreach program. We provide these organizations with development opportunities to help their groups and members communicate with impact and build authentic relationships to support their missions.
To learn more about our outreach program, contact us.