The Best Way To Show Respect to a Veteran Is To Learn About Them

How can people show their respect and thanks on Veteran's Day? originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question.

Answer by Dan Rosenthal, U.S. Army Infantry, RSTA (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition), on Quora:

The best way to show respect to a veteran is to learn about them. If you're going to give thanks to us, you should know what it is you are thanking us for. You should know what we do, how we train, what it is like for us to fight, what our jobs are like on a daily basis, etc. You should know the struggles we go through with an incompetent and non-functional VA system; you should know the challenges that veterans face in reintegrating to civilian society.  And then, you should decide for yourself if, and how, you'd like to honor us.

On patrol during Operation Iraqi Freedom, at a soccer stadium in Baghdad. I'm in the sunglasses.

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You can pay respects directly to the fallen. When I lived in the D.C. area, I would visit Arlington Cemetery and pay my respects to the fallen from my unit, and others -- both friends, and strangers.  I lost a good friend on November 12, 2003,  in Iraq; so I'd make the trip twice in short succession.  Now that I'm no longer in the area, I pause to pay my respects. Since 2003, every day, I've worn a bracelet on my wrist in his memory.

You can take the time to study legislation that affects veterans.  Get mad when politicians vote against or block critical veterans legislation (for instance, Sen. Coburn's atrocious blocking of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention Act -- the bill eventually passed 99-0). Learn what legislation is out there (a good resource: House Committee on Veterans' Affairs legislation page). As we go into election season, if you really care about veterans, examine the voting histories of the candidates on VA issues. 

Donate to Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), an organization actively working to better the lives of veterans through both programs and advocacy.  And be careful what organizations you donate to.  I won't tell you how "not" to spend your money, but I'll simply say that there are many veterans out there who have had negative experiences with Wounded Warrior Project for their aggressive, bullying, litigious stance against other Veterans Service Organizations, and disagree with the org's poor financial management. (Wounded Warrior Project spends 58% of donations on veterans programs; Small veterans' charity sued for "unfair competition" by Wounded Warrior Project).

Don't buy into paid patriotism. Going to an NFL game where a "hometown hero" is featured is not patriotism. It is a scam that costs millions of taxpayer dollars for little to no tangible benefit.  You're not respecting veterans by rooting for the National Guard car at a NASCAR race.   We are not show animals for public display, and we're not an marketing brand to be plastered on a logo-strewn car.  Veteran's Day is about honoring the sacrifices that we, as people, as soldiers, make.  Tailgating at the game is great -- especially when the Ravens win (lol not this year) -- but let's not pretend that it's in any way related to those sacrifices.

Consider hiring a veteran. Despite a growing focus in the military on transitional assistance into civilian life, and numerous "Hire a Hero" programs, we're going through an economic recovery and the job market is rough. Hiring a veteran not only truly shows respect for our service (by recognizing the unique skills, leadership, and experience we bring to the position), but it can be a great move for your company.  Jon Davis' answer to What are the advantages of hiring someone who has been in the US military is an incredible breakdown of why this is the case.

Doing any of these things would be a tangible, real, effective way to show your thanks and respect to vets.

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