12 Proper Responses to ‘Thank You for Your Service’

Updated

Have you served in the military? If so, you’ve probably lost track of the number of times people have said “Thank you for service.” Family members, store clerks, and even strangers have likely said it dozens (or even hundreds!) of times. 

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Even if you’ve heard something over and over again, you still may not be quite sure how to respond to it. It can be hard to know how to take praise. This holds doubly true when you’re just doing your job. These go-to responses can help you know what to say the next time someone thanks you for your service. 

How to Respond to ‘Thank You for Your Service’ to a Close Family Member or Friend

Friends and family members are (ideally) always supportive. They are often incredibly proud when their loved ones serve in the military. Even if you tell them not to, they may continue to thank you for your service. These responses may come in handy:

1. “I’m glad you’re proud of me. Your opinion means a lot.”

Odds are that if you entered the military, your parents raised you to be an upstanding person. No matter how old you get, their approval likely means a lot to you. If so, let them know.

2. “Thank you for everything that you do.”

Members of the military aren’t the only people who have chosen a noble profession. Maybe your dad is a teacher. Maybe your mom is a doctor. Maybe your sister is a social worker. If they thank you for your service, you can turn right around and thank them for theirs, too. Turnabout is fair play!  

3. “I couldn’t do it without you.”

Your spouse is often your biggest cheerleader and teammate. You may be serving overseas but they hold down the homefront. They often have to relocate far away from friends and family. They end up being a single parent for a lot of the year. When they thank you for your service, you can thank them for the role they play. 

4. “You don’t have to thank me, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

Not every veteran or member of the military likes hearing the phrase, “Thank you for your service,” and that’s okay. This is a firm but polite way to nip it in the bud to people you see regularly. If they persist, you can be more explicit about why you don’t need to hear it. But this is a kind and subtle way to redirect the conversation. 

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How to Respond to ‘Thank You for Your Service’ to a Stranger or Acquaintance 

It can often make you feel awkward or uncomfortable when an acquaintance or stranger thanks you for your service. After all, they know nothing about you. They don’t know your motivations behind serving. They don’t even know if you enjoyed it. Here is an assortment of responses for you to keep in your pocket if you feel like you’re put on the spot.

5. “Thank you for saying that. What do you do for a living?”

Take this opportunity to ask about that person’s job and you can even ask follow-up questions. Is this person a teacher?

Ask him what subject and grade level he teaches. The teacher may then ask you more about your role within the military. It gives you a chance to let talk about the branch you served in and your role. The advantage of this is that the person you’re talking to may get to know another military acquaintance a little better.    

6. “It was my honor.”

This is a simple and elegant response to someone you don’t know well. It acknowledges what they’re saying. It’s also a very positive response, when you may be tempted to downplay your service. It’s a great alternative to a modest response. 

7. “Thank you. I appreciate your support.”

Of course you will happily tell your partner “Thank you for your support,” but it may feel strange to say it to someone you don’t know well. In this case, though, you’re just thanking them for making a supportive comment.   

8. “I was fortunate to do so. Serving gave me access to a lot of opportunities I would not have otherwise had.”

It’s an unfortunate truth, but many people end up entering the military because they don’t have many other options. People often enlist to receive benefits and a steady paycheck. It may also give them an opportunity to receive higher education. This response is a gentle way to educate people that the military has benefited you.    

How to Respond to ‘Thanks for Your Service’ in an Email, DM, or Text

It can actually be a lot easier to deal with someone who says “thank you for your service” in writing. For example, some people like to send a thank you note to the veterans or active duty military members on Veteran’s Day.

You don’t necessarily have to respond if someone shoots you a message or text thanking you for your service. You could simply acknowledge it with a thumbs-up emoji. But if you would like to respond, here are some ideas.

9. “You’re welcome.”

This may seem like a really simple response, but it’s worth mentioning. You don’t always have to overthink your response. A simple “You’re welcome” is a classic response to any form of gratitude.  

10. “It was my privilege to serve.”

Some veterans and active-duty military members don’t feel comfortable simply saying, “You’re welcome.” This is because many military members don’t look at their service as something they did as a favor to someone.

They feel as though they got as much out of their service as they put in, if not more. They may also have just seen it as a duty or a calling. If you’ve got this mindset, this short but sweet sentiment captures it pretty well.

11. “Thank you for all you do.”

You can personalize this response a lot more in writing. If the person you’re talking to has helped you in your way, you can thank that person for his service. Does this person serve the greater community in some way? If so, you can reference that, too.  

12. “No thanks are necessary, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

Again, not every military member enjoys being thanked for his or her service. This is a firm but polite way to acknowledge their thanks before keeping the conversation moving to other topics. 

What To Say When Someone Else Says, “Thank You For Your Service”

Sometimes civilians just don’t know what to say when they’re faced with someone who has served in the military. That’s why they might say something like “Happy Memorial Day,” not realizing that Memorial Day is a day of mourning. 

This is why “Thank you for your service” is such a go-to phrase for so many people. It seems safe to them if they don’t have much understanding of military life. There’s no one proper response to “Thank you for your service.” Just like there are many ways to say thank you, there are plenty of ways to say you’re welcome as well. Hopefully, this list will help give you some guidance. 

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