DENVER -- A new survey released by the Cohen Veterans Network shows 91% of American adults have thanked a veteran for their service in public. But the study also shows nearly half of veterans and active-duty service members feel uncomfortable receiving those thank yous.
"It was surprising, and yet it's not," said Kammy Bishop. "Nobody really joins the military to get personal thank yous."
Bishop is a Marine Corps veteran and the clinic director for Denver's Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic.
She says veterans are often unsure how to respond to being thanked for serving.
"There's a lot of discussion about not saying just thank you as a blanket statement, but being very specific. Why are you grateful?" she said.
The survey also revealed 39% of Americans are unsure how to start a conversation with a veteran.
"It tells us that we still have a divide between the veteran community and the civilian population," said Bishop. "We have some work to do."
Bishop's clinic provides counseling and resources for thousands of veterans and their families across Colorado.
The Cohen Veterans Network has launched a "beyond the thank you" campaign, aimed at finding more meaningful ways to thank veterans.
"When we talk to vets, most of them say it's about recognition of the sacrifice either they made personally, or their families have made," Bishop said.
Bishop says a simple thank you is better than saying nothing at all, but recommends broadening the gesture.
"Don't be afraid to ask, 'What branch did you serve in? How long were you in? Are you comfortable in talking about this? I'm curious to know, because I care to know.' That's what a vet wants to hear," she said.
You can find the full survey online.AlertMe