You’ve Just Been Thanked for Your Service — Now What?

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Being thanked for your service is one of the most difficult things you could ever go through as a veteran. We’re here to help. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Hey Battle Buddy,

Did a civilian just thank you for your service? That’s a damn shame, and I’m sorry that you are having this terribly awkward experience. But don’t worry, we’re here to help guide you through it.

First, understand that when a civilian thanks you for your service, they’re really saying, “I think it’s super cool that you used to blow shit up and kill people.”

Now, keep in mind that civilians are extremely bloodthirsty in nature and spend a remarkable amount of time listening to podcasts about serial killers and watching Netflix shows about people getting gruesomely chopped up back in the 1980s. They love death, and in their twisted minds you’re the embodiment of it, which is exactly why they thank you.

Secondly, it’s important to know that civilians have absolutely no idea that you spent the majority of your military career filling sandbags and masturbating in porta-shitters. In their minds, troops are out there every day fighting valiantly for freedom — i.e., killing. Listen, let them believe that. If you pop that bubble, they might take away Veterans Day. Best to let sleeping dogs lie, because those 10% discounts at Applebee’s and Texas Roadhouse are worth it.

So then how should a veteran respond when somebody thanks them for their service? Unfortunately, there is no one bulletproof response that will work 100% of the time. Every situation is different. With that in mind, we came up with 10 expertly crafted responses to “Thank You for Your Service” and compiled them into a convenient list for you here.

Oh, and thank you for your service!


  1. If approached by a couple, stare at their spouse longingly and say, “I didn’t do it for you. I did it for her.” Hold awkward eye contact until they walk away.
  2. “Thanks! I’m a third-generation Taliban, believe it or not.” Immediately take off running after this as they’re probably going to call the cops.
  3. Smile politely and hold out an open hand until they put something of value in it.
  4. “Thank you! I heard they’re bringing the draft back, though, so let me be the first to thank you for your service, brother!” Then grab some popcorn and watch as they frantically order a one-way ticket to Mexico.
  5. “You’re welcome.”
  6. Immediately whip out your phone and say, “They know. Get me the fuck out of here. I’ve been compromised.” Then return to the conversation like nothing happened.
  7. Express thanks and then stoically recount a really long and boring story from your time in the military. “No shit, there I was, on staff duty …”
  8. Thank them for whatever it is they do. “No, thank you for selling quality used cars at low low prices, Chip.”
  9. Say “Annnnnnd?” after they thank you, implying that there are other things that they should be thanking you for. Then wait and see how many compliments you can get out of them before they give up.
  10. “Thanks, I just shit my pants. Where’s the bathroom?”

Read Next: Inside One MARSOC Team’s Fight for Justice After False War Crimes Allegations

Eric Miller is a former Army Combat Medic from Parkersburg, West Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and has worked with homeless populations and veteran services throughout the state. He is an avid outdoorsman and has recently become interested in woodworking.
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