"Go Beyond Thanks:" New Survey Reveals We Should Do More Than Simply Thank Our Veterans for Their Service

Friday, November 10th, 2023

 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