12 Facts About Veterans Every Civilian Should Know


Civilians are lucky people. They get to go about their daily business and not worry about what happens overseas in dangerous parts of the world. Those concerns fall on the shoulders of the military.

After they retire from active service, veterans want civilians to know a few things about their lives both as active service members and as retirees.

  1. Military veterans aren’t all infantrymen.

There are so many jobs in the military. Civilians have absolutely no idea how many jobs there are and what skills it takes to do them. Of course, many veterans have fought on the lines, but more jobs take place behind the scenes.

  1. Not all veterans have PTSD.

This is a big misunderstanding. Some veterans do have PTSD, but most never see any fighting and are not traumatized at all. Some military service members spend the majority of their days on computers or in hospitals or working on vehicles. These types of jobs might be stressful on their own, but not stressful enough to result in PTSD.

  1. We appreciate being asked about what we did in the military.

Since we didn’t all serve on the front line, it is not appropriate to assume we did. Instead of assuming we held a gun on an adversary, we prefer that you ask us what we did during our service. We are more than happy to talk about our jobs and how we supported our country. We even love being thanked and we love being thanked with little treasures like ChallengeCoins4Less.

  1. Military families may not travel overseas with us, but they are involved in our service.

When military service members are active, they spend a significant time away from their family members. As we move around the country or the world, our families do not always get to go with us. But, they stay involved in what we are doing and where we are doing it. Our spouses end up taking care of our children on their own – it’s almost as if they are serving their country by supporting us while we serve the country.

  1. Military service does affect people who serve.

Even if we do see combat or end up with PTSD, serving in the military does change us. We learn skills that we might not have learned in school. We learn discipline. We become physically fit. We spend time away from our families and we build relationships with people who committed to the military, too. Depending on where we are stationed, we might not see combat, but we might see extreme poverty or debilitating diseases. Military service members see things that the average civilian would never imagine.

  1. We volunteered for service.

Even though we are paid as military service members, we did volunteer to join. The United States Armed Forces does not have required service time, so anyone who wants to serve the country needs to voluntary join. There are not many countries that do this, so US military members are unique in their true dedication and commitment to the country. We didn’t have to volunteer, we could have done what civilians do – go to college, live with our families, enjoy vacations. But, instead, we chose service.

  1. Military service members respect each other.

We are taught to show respect to each other and you will see us do that. It doesn’t matter what branch we are in, we show respect to everyone else who has served or is serving. We understand the commitment, the dedication, the obligations, and the struggles that we all face. We know what our families have gone through and we understand that military life is never easy.

  1. Military people are regular people.

We aren’t superheroes. We don’t wear capes and we do put on our pants one leg at a time, just like everyone else. We have flaws. We get sick. We wish the world was a better place and we do the little bit we can to help make it happen. If you saw us on the street without our uniforms on, you wouldn’t know we weren’t civilians. We are just like you.

  1. We appreciate being thanked.

We are just like you. We appreciate being appreciated. But, we would never ask you to say anything if you don’t want to.

  1. There are more Gulf War veterans alive than other war veterans.

You might not realize the stats about veterans, but there aren’t many World War II veterans left in the world today. And, Vietnam Veterans are getting older and Korean War veterans are, too. There is also a significant number of veterans who have not fought in an official conflict but are considered peacetime veterans. If a veteran hasn’t served in a war, their time is no less valuable that veterans who have.

  1. Most members of Congress have not been in the military.

This is a notable stat, too. It fits with the statistics about the declining numbers of citizens who choose to join the military. In the mid-century, the majority of people in the House and Senate served in the military. Now, only about 20% have service time. Considering the military decisions that Congress makes, it is notable that the majority of people who are elected into office have no experience on which to base their decisions. This is a bit troubling. This trend will most likely continue unless something happens to put a priority on serving prior to running for office.

  1. Military families – on average – move every few years.

This is one of the most challenging aspects of being in the military. Consider the work it takes to pack up and move. Then, to unpack and learn about a new environment. Our children have to change schools several times in their young lives. Our spouses often have to move without our help and without much help from families – simply because they might not live anywhere near family. Our spouses have to deal with utilities, banking, grocery shopping, driver’s licenses, and so much more. We appreciate their dedication and support more than you could ever know.