“Go Beyond Thanks:” New Survey Reveals We Should Do More Than Simply Thank Our Veterans for Their Service
Data Reveals Half of Military/Veterans Surveyed Feel Uncomfortable or Awkward When Someone Says the Phrase “Thank You for Your Service” to Them, Increasing to Nearly 70% Amongst Younger Veterans
SAN ANTONIO – As the nation prepares to observe Veterans Day this year, USAA hopes to challenge the nation to go beyond simple gratitude to create real, positive impacts in the veteran community. A new survey sponsored by USAA reveals disparities between young military/veterans and their older counterparts in how they prefer to be recognized for their service. The survey was conducted by Endeavor Analytics and YouGov.
Of note, nearly 70% of younger military/veterans say they feel uncomfortable or awkward when someone says “Thank you for your service” to them. Conversely, only 24% of military/veterans aged 65+ say they feel uncomfortable or awkward when someone says the phrase to them.
"This data shows that military service members and our veterans want Americans to go beyond small talk to connect with them on a deeper level, including learning more about their service, honoring each veteran’s service in ways in which they feel comfortable talking about it,” said retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert F. Whittle, Jr., SVP, chief of staff at USAA.
In response to these findings, this Veterans Day, USAA is introducing a new campaign hosted at USAA.com/veteransday that encourages Americans to “Go Beyond Thanks” to honor our military and veterans by going beyond simple gratitude to create real, positive impacts in the community this holiday and every day.
This approach also encourages conversations about mental wellness, asking for help and veteran suicide prevention to break stigmas around such topics. USAA sees a connection between having such meaningful conversations and the veteran suicide prevention initiative Face the Fight™ that USAA launched with founding partners Humana and Reach Resilience, an Endeavors Foundation.
The survey also found that older military/veterans are 76% more likely than the younger generation to connect with each other in person on the holiday, with younger military/veterans preferring to connect via social media.
“We know that personal connection is a critical component to mental health and suicide prevention,” said Katy Dondanville, Psy.D., UT Health Science Center San Antonio. “Rather than simply offering our thanks, we should be looking for ways to go beyond small talk and create more meaningful connections with veterans and better understand their service.”
USAA’s goal is to make a positive impact in the veteran community and honor those who have dedicated themselves to the service of our country.
“We owe our veterans a debt of gratitude, but we also owe it to them to build a supportive community around them,” said Wayne Peacock, USAA president and CEO. "And that community must find ways to have meaningful and tangible impacts on our veterans’ lives. That’s our duty, and it’s why we are advocating for the public to go beyond traditional words of gratitude on Veterans Day."
This week, many Americans will see examples of social influencers that will “Go Beyond Thanks,” including NFL player Aidan Hutchinson (@aidanhutch97), gamer Stone Mountain (@stonemountain64), and digital creator Ayumi Lashley (@ayumiofficial). The survey also revealed 28% of civilian respondents do not know or are not sure why we celebrate Veterans Day. USAA believes there is an opportunity to educate the public on why we observe Veterans Day each year and inspire all Americans to check in with a veteran, as it can mean so much, especially if they are struggling.
USAA teams up with The American Legion to Go Beyond Thanks
USAA is also teaming up with The American Legion to “Go Beyond Thanks” by providing three legion posts with new exercise equipment centers. As veterans increasingly connect and engage in conversations with fellow veterans through exercise in their quest to remain fit, USAA is providing this equipment at posts in Las Vegas, Noblesville, Ind. and San Antonio. The equipment is scheduled to be installed in the coming months.
“The American Legion posts are a place to serve and advocate for our veterans and the military community”, said Waco Hoover, who is leading the Be The One platform for The American Legion. “A key goal of Be The One is to go further upstream than the point of crisis to identify solutions that will improve mental health and reduce veteran suicide. The installation of these exercise centers will enhance the experience of our veterans and further cement these posts as a place they can convene and remain physically and mentally healthy together.”
To learn more about how you can “Go Beyond Thanks” this Veterans Day, please visit USAA.com/veteransday. To learn more about Face the Fight, a coalition established by USAA, charged with raising awareness and support for veteran and military suicide prevention, please visit wefacethefight.org.
Source: Endeavor Analytics x YouGov Custom Dataset among U.S. Veterans/Military Personnel (n.1639) & General Population (n.844) ages 18+. Fielded 9/22/2023 – 10/11/2023. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all US adults (aged 18+).
Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking, and investment and retirement solutions to more than 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served, and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, USAA has offices in eight U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 37,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.
About Face the Fight
Founded by USAA in 2023, with the Humana Foundation and Reach Resilience, an Endeavors Foundation, as founding partners, Face the Fight® is a collaborative effort of corporations, foundations, nonprofit groups, and veteran-focused organizations charged with raising awareness and support for veteran and military suicide prevention. The mission of the initiative is to break the stigma of seeking help, increase conversation about the problem and complement the efforts of Veterans Affairs (VA), Department of Defense (DoD) and many others to stop veteran suicide. To learn more about Face the Fight, find help and join the fight, visit wefacethefight.org. Media resources: To access Face the Fight assets, including a Fact Sheet, video and graphics, visit the USAA newsroom.
About The American Legion
Since 1919, The American Legion has fought for the veteran community as the largest veteran service organization in the country, with 1.6 million members across more than 12,000 posts throughout America. The American Legion played an instrumental role in the passage of the GI Bill and in the creation of the Department of Veterans Affairs. Now, The American Legion is focused toward tackling the greatest challenge veterans face today: ending the stigma surrounding asking for mental health help. The American Legion launched its Be The One initiative with the goal of ending veteran suicide. To learn more, visit legion.org.