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How to Talk to a Veteran this Memorial Day Weekend and Always.

Mortgage and Lending with Academy Mortgage NMLS# 1452954

Many of our young men and women who are military have now served during a “wartime” and this matters on how we speak to them. As a daughter of two veteran parents, and the wife of an Iraq War Veteran I live this every day. I have been exposed to the military world since the day of my birth and I have been educated multiple times over the years on what can be talked about and what is off limits. As civilians we need to know how to speak with our veterans so we can better serve them with any need they have. They are home but many are wounded; some with obvious injuries and many have invisible scars. We may respect them for their sacrifices but what we say can counter that without even meaning to. If you work with veteran clients on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis this is some good information to store away somewhere and remind yourself often. Remember the only question you need to ask your clients is “Have you served?”

A really great article to read is from www.TheStory.org - Things Not to Say to a Veteran. It may require 5 minutes of your life but it is by far one of the best articles I have read on this subject and I highly recommend taking the time to read it. You can find the article by clicking this link


Listed below are some of the major points that I definitely felt were valuable since I live with a soldier that suffers from the invisible on a daily basis and the majority of my clients now are veterans.

1)      We say “Welcome Home” and “Thank you for your Service”

2)      We listen without judgement and without the need to respond. If a Veteran decides to open up to you just let them and even if you are busy with a million things to do, take the time. 

3)      Never ask them “what it was like over there?” or “how many did you kill?” or even say, “I bet you saw some terrible things over there”. This can bring up some unhealed wounds. If they want to talk about it to you that is one thing but don’t bring it up in order to try to relate with them or start a conversation.  As a civilian, we can never relate with their experiences.

4)      If a Veteran calls you please call them right back, even before your other clients if need be. They really do need to know that you are on their side. They expect the people they work with to be prompt and have their "back" especially if you have promised them to always answer their call or be there when they need you. If you say to a veteran you are “available 24/7” they may hold you to that, so be careful with your promises and if you make them please follow through.

5)      Another thing to remember is that rank matters with veterans so brush up on it when you have a chance. Knowing even a little about what they do goes a long way for these man and women.

6)      And remember, (this is my all-time favorite from the article from www.thestory.com), do not say I am glad you made it home safe because many of their comrades did not and many of them are not feeling safe or ok, so just say “thank you for your service” and leave it there unless they open up to you about their experiences.

I hope this helps you when you come across one of our many veterans. Please take the time to read the article above because I think it could open your mind to many things especially over this Memorial Day weekend. Remember this weekend isn’t just about BBQs.  Make sure you thank a Vet daily if you can. Because of their selflessness we all experience more freedom than we would without them.  They should receive all of our respect, loyalty and integrity. 

Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I wish them all the best this year and I think the main thing is just to listen and be willing to listen to them

May 28, 2017 02:49 PM
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

To give back what was given is upon us all....

May 28, 2017 03:21 PM
John Pusa
Glendale, CA

Natalie Fallbach Great post about always how to talk to a veteran.

May 28, 2017 04:42 PM
Dave Halpern
Dave Halpern Real Estate Agent, Inc., Louisville, KY (502) 664-7827 - Louisville, KY
Louisville Short Sale Expert

In my book every day is Memorial Day. My father was liberated by American soldiers in WWII.

The USA is a force for good in the world. I bow my head in gratitude to all American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep America and the world free.

May 28, 2017 05:07 PM
Claude Labbe
RLAH / @properties - Washington, DC
Realty for Your Busy Life

Nice suggestions Natalie.

It hadn't occured to me, as #4 suggests, that promptness may be seen differently by a Veteran than by other people.

May 28, 2017 05:14 PM
Fred Griffin Florida Real Estate
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Hi, Natalie.

        You make many great points in your post. 

       #3  I joined the Air Force a few weeks after the Fall of Saigon.  The Vets who brought me up had seen and done things that they will only talk about with other Veterans - or not talk about at all.   Today, my relatives who were in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan feel the same way.   Give the Combat Veterans their space.  They earned it, they need it, they deserve it.

May 28, 2017 05:38 PM
Nancy Laswick
United Real Estate - Phoenix, AZ
Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun

An excellent post Natalie Fallbach filled with great advice. I am married to a Veteran whose has dealt with those invisible wounds, you wrote of, for the last forty five years. Healing can be a long and painful process but time and patience can heal even the deepest wounds. 

May 28, 2017 08:23 PM
Bunny Terry
Keller Williams Santa Fe - Santa Fe, NM
A Different Kind of Realtor in the City Different

What an elegant and real reminder to be mindful of what and how we speak with Veterans, Natalie. Mindfulness and gratitude are key, you're absolutely right - we'll never truly know what it was like being out there - so let's be grateful for all our men and women who have served in any capacity this Memorial Day.

May 28, 2017 10:22 PM
Kat Palmiotti
eXp Commercial, Referral Divison - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Thank you for sharing this. I wll read the article. I've recently started working with more service men and women and this information will be useful.

May 29, 2017 03:45 AM
Nick Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Realty ONE Group Advocates 484-237-2055 - Downingtown, PA
Selling the Main Line & Chester County

Good article, having a son who is a veteran I totally relate. Thank you family, parents and husband for their servie and to you as well, for you to serve in your own way.

May 29, 2017 06:58 AM
April Swenson
Coldwell Banker Ocean Shores Brokers - Ocean Shores, WA
CRS and Managing Broker - Ocean Shores Real Estate

Thank you for sharing. This is so important. Thanking a veteran for serving and really mean it is good for them to hear, even if it is in the store.

May 29, 2017 08:59 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Natalie- this is a wonderful post to help us learn to speak with veterans. My husband was an F-4 pilot and I'm going to share this with him. I'm also bookmarking this.  None of us means to be insensitive to our veterans but with this information perhaps we can be more thoughtful. 

May 29, 2017 03:11 PM
Natalie Fallbach
Academy Mortgage - Albuquerque, NM
Senior Loan Officer, Military Housing Specialist

Thank you all for your comments! This is a wonderful community. I am honored to be among you. Thank you for caring and listening to this perspective. I know every soldier will be different and my husband reminds me that we do not have to walk on egg shells. Just say "thank you" and mean it . They knew what they were potentially sacrificing when they signed the dotted line and appreciate you acknowledging that. Mixing up Veterans Day and Memorial Day (which is often done) is not offensive to most veterans but I have yet to meet a veteran that enjoys a happy memorial day email or call. I have received several today in my inbox and it just got under my skin. We can do better than this as an industry.

May 29, 2017 10:04 PM
Mick Michaud
Distinctly Texas Lifestyle Properties, LLC Office:682/498-3107 - Granbury, TX
Your Texas Lifestyle is Here!

Great points.  I have a brother serve in Afghanistan.  He's still active Army.

May 30, 2017 08:59 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Natalie,

Good reminder. Thank you. I usually do not pry, because some relatives who served took decades to finally part their lips & tell their stories. It cannot be easy to be 22 & have one arm left of your four limbs. I see some of the injured, when out near Walter Reed.

May 30, 2017 06:40 PM
Endre Barath, Jr.
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices California Properties - Beverly Hills, CA
Realtor - Los Angeles Home Sales 310.486.1002

Natalie, I read your post and interestingly  some points I agree others I just pause.... Veterans do not need to be talked to differently than any other person we all want to be treated with courtesy... same rules apply to police officers, and anyone who does something that no one else chooses to do :  If they chose to serve their country in a capacity that is not always appreciated they did it on their own volition. I chose to serve my country as an Airborne Ranger Infantry Captain to thank my country... I do not ask for any one to thank me on Memorial Day... that is a day of somber remembrance for those who did not come back from the battle field... Any other day I just ask for  courtesy just like you would like to be treated. On Veterans Day feel free to thank me and you will get the same answer: I did it in appreciation of my country no thank you needed.

Now if you really want to thank me than learn the difference between Veteran's and Memorial Day... Endre

May 30, 2017 10:57 PM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
Retired New Hampshire Home Stager

Excellent information. We certainly don't want to make anyone uncomfortable. Sometimes people who don't know what to say avoid veterans and that makes it all the more awkward.

May 31, 2017 04:23 AM
M.C. Dwyer
Melody Russell Team at eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Felton, CA
MC Dwyer-Santa Cruz Mountains Property Specialist

Thought provoking, even though I am a daughter of a veteran.

May 31, 2017 07:19 AM
Doug Kaller
Academy Mortgage, Reno, NV - Reno, NV

Thank you for sharing "The Story." I think most of us struggle in these situations. Hopefully, I will be better prepared in the future thanks to your post.

May 31, 2017 10:33 AM
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

We are reminded to be sensitive to all people's needs.

Thanks for giving honor to our VETERANS

May 31, 2017 05:29 PM