1Just be our friends.
It’s super easy to say thank you to someone, and it’s even easier to do it to a Veteran on Veteran’s day, but I’m going to let you in on a little secret… it doesn’t mean anything. We know you’re just saying it because you’re supposed to. We’ve been groomed to thank Veterans our entire lives. Honestly though, we don’t want the words; we want the action. We want to be treated like normal-functioning humans, because that’s what we are.
2Light your House Green
Every year, Veterans at Cornell handout free green light bulbs to sororities, fraternities, and anyone else who desires to support Veterans. It’s quite simple; just change your porch light for one night. This gesture shows Veterans that Cornell students care about us, and that matters because we represent less than .002% of the student population.
3Stop Commenting on our Age
Most Veterans are 4 – 8 years older than their peers. This gap isn’t actually huge, and the older you get, the more you’ll realize this. We don’t call you “kids” or “children” so please don’t call us “old”. We have a ton of life experience and if you embrace us, we might tell you some awesome stories.
4Don’t Equate Us with the Military Industrial Complex
We understand that many college students oppose war. Believe it or not, many of us left the military because we feel the same way. I can’t speak for every Veteran but it’s safe to say we departed the military with just reasoning, and I assume it wasn’t because we loved it. Undergraduate Veterans were typically enlisted, which means we weren’t calling the shots. We were pawns, and we want to move passed this.
5Try Not to Assume We Support Trump, Many of Us Don’t
Only 44% of all active-duty troops support Trump and his policies. While Veterans do believe in the Constitution and freedom of speech, which we fervently fought to defend, we’ve successfully worked alongside people from all over the world. If there’s one group of people who understand the importance of diversity, it’s Veterans.
6Tread Carefully on Certain Topics
When I first arrived at Cornell a student asked me if any of my friends died while serving. This question hit me like a brick. I had lost friends, but I didn’t want to talk about it with a stranger. Would you ask anyone else this question? I don’t think you would, so please don’t us. It’s invasive and be incredibly triggering. We might open up eventually, and in fact it’s very healthy to do so, but give us some time.
Really, the best way to say thank a Veteran is by saying “hi”. We don’t want extra privileges or handouts, we want to be accepted by our peers, and we want to excel in whatever industry we decide to work for. We’re tenacious, outgoing, vociferous, and ambitious just like you!