What Not to Ask a Veteran

by Megan Hawker, MA, IMF #65325
ACI Clinical Specialist
Captain, Medical Service Corps, US Army Reserves

The number of veterans entering universities and the civilian workplace is climbing. The respect and support from others in these environments is appreciated. Unfortunately it is easy for the well-meaning questions of interest or support from civilians to come out the wrong way. People have the best of intentions and want to show their support, appreciation and respect to service members. However, sometimes what is good intentioned ends up having a negative result. To avoid any mishaps, here are several key pointers on what ‘not’ to say.

1. Did you kill anyone?

This question gets casually thrown out with the sensitivity and gravity as “how ‘bout this weather”? With the potential to evoke unpleasant memories, guilt and thoughts of traumatic experiences, this question is highly inappropriate, yet unfortunately common.

2. How was it ‘over there’?

To date (16APR13), there have been 6,664 deaths and 50,639 US service members wounded in action in the global war on terrorism. The estimated number of Iraqi, Afghani and Pakistani deaths is debatably estimated between 158,000-202,000. The perceived lack of awareness or consideration to the gravity of these conflicts can make a benign question feel insulting.

3. What at is your opinion on ____[anything politically related]?

Just like civilians, the opinions of veterans and service member vary from one extreme to the other. It is the duty of the warfighter to do their job, regardless of their personal opinions on current operations.

4. Was it worth it?

The price of war is devastating, particularly to the warfighter. Many of the costs will remain yet to be seen even years following the end of war. The notion of being able to put a price or a worth on the number of lives that have been lost or touched by any war is a cruel reminder to service members that have stood beside those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Now that we’ve covered what ‘not’ to say, look for next month’s blog on the best ways to communicate appreciation, compassion and support for our service members. Stay tuned!

Also, be sure to check out last month’s blog, The Paws-itive Benefits of Pet Ownership if you haven’t already, ACI’s New Veteran Module, and share your thoughts with us on Twitter @ACISpecBenefits, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+!

About ACI Specialty Benefits

ACI Specialty Benefits ranks in the nation’s Top-Ten providers of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), corporate wellness programs, student assistance, corporate concierge, and work/life services to corporations worldwide. ACI partners with clients to Perk Up employee engagement and performance with benefit programs that improve morale, productivity and the bottom-line. With a 95% customer retention rate and over 7 million lives covered. ACI remains a privately-owned specialty benefits corporation, headquartered in San Diego. For more information, visit www.acispecialtybenefits.com or call 800.932.0034.
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