What to Say on Veterans Day: How to Thank Those Who Put America First

What do you say to a veteran on Veterans Day? We detail the dos and don'ts of saying thanks.

Published October 26, 2023
female U.S. soldier wearing 2023 OCP uniform outdoors

November 11th is the day we honor our veterans and the sacrifices that they made to keep our country and its citizens safe. These selfless individuals put their lives on the line for our safety, gave up luxuries that we enjoy every day, and prioritized the needs of the many over the few. 

For those folks wondering what to say on Veterans Day, we detail the best greetings to use this November!

Is It Appropriate to Say Happy Veterans Day?

Unlike Memorial Day, which is a day of remembrance and reflection for the military members we have lost, Veterans Day is an occasion that is meant to honor the men and women who chose to put their lives on the line to serve and protect.

However, for the veterans who served in combat and lost brothers and sisters in the line of duty, Veterans Day is not always a day of celebration. It can also be a reminder of the loved ones they lost.  

What this means is that saying the phrase "Happy Veterans Day" may be welcomed by some, but not all. 

Need to Know

Most veterans note that the best thing to say is "Thank you for your service."

Veterans Day Greetings: Other Ways to Say "Thank You for Your Service"

For the veterans you pass on the street, but don't know personally, the best things to say are simply "Thank you for your service" or "Thank you for your commitment to our country." Conversely, for the veterans that you know saw combat, you can be a bit more descriptive with your thanks. Here are some Veterans Day greetings to consider:

  • I appreciate your sacrifice. 
  • Your bravery is a blessing to us all. 
  • Thank you for safeguarding America's freedom.
  • I am so grateful for your courage. 
  • We applaud and appreciate your dedication to our country.
  • The promise of tomorrow is present because of people like you. 
  • We are forever indebted to you and your military family for the many sacrifices you made. 
  • I applaud your patriotism. Thank you for your service.
  • Our history is shaped by heroes like you.
  • You deserve all the blessings for your bravery.
  • Your dedication to our country is admirable.
  • You have my respect and gratitude. 
  • Thank you for being the reason for the season. We have our freedoms because of your commitment and we thank you!
  • I want to share my heartfelt appreciation for your service. You are a shining example of what all Americans should strive to be.
  • Your past efforts are not forgotten. Thank you for being an impactful part of history. 
  • No matter if you served right here at home or in the trenches abroad, your work mattered. Thank you for putting our country first. 
  • Immeasurable sacrifice deserves endless thanks!
  • Thank you for inspiring Americans at home to put others first! You are an exemplary example for our future.
Quick Tip

A phrase like one of those above, or a heartfelt Veterans Day quote, can also be a powerful way to say thanks on a card or social media message. 

What to Say on Veterans Day: Things to Remember This Holiday

When you greet a veteran with gratitude, it's important to remember that every person's experience in the military was different. Don't assume that you know what they went through. While some veterans saw combat, others served as meteorologists, repairmen, and medical staff members. These non-combat roles are essential, but didn't necessarily bring the same sacrifices as those who served on the front lines. 

By making assumptions, you may inadvertently make the veteran feel less deserving of praise or that their time in the service was less meaningful than others. If you don't know a veteran's military experience, it is best to keep your thanks generic.

Also, not all veterans want to reminisce over their time in the military. If they choose to share on their own accord, then feel free to engage, but otherwise, it is best to not pry. Just share a kind word about your appreciation for their dedication to our country. 

Two Generation USA Military War Veteran Senior Family Men
Need to Know

Helping military families is a great way to give back this holiday season. Research shows that many veterans struggle with their adjustment to civilian life. Many also feel the imprints of war long after their return home. By taking the time to show kindness and give support to these individuals, you can serve as a meaningful part of their time at home. 

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

While many veterans appreciate the recognition, most will tell you that they don't want thanks. Instead, they want their fellow Americans to help their brothers and sisters in need. It's important to remember that Veterans Day is a time to honor these individuals. What better way to do that than to sacrifice for those who sacrificed for you?

This Veterans Day, you could aim to volunteer at an organization that helps vets or donate to a nonprofit that provides resources to wounded or homeless veterans. Consider visiting a VA hospital to talk to vets in your region. You can also get a group together to build homeless bags to hand out in your community. Events that aim to honor our veterans can be an amazing opportunity to show your gratitude as well.

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What to Say on Veterans Day: How to Thank Those Who Put America First