It is not normal that all Americans can be programmed to speak with one voice about anything. Yet, the rote, knee-jerk 'Thank you for your service' response uttered to anyone saying he is/was a vet is our unusual collective experience.
To thank someone you imply you are grateful for what they have done for you. 'Thank you for your service' extends to vets of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. Let's consider the Vietnam war where our 'mostly' men, were drafted or deceived into participation there by governmental warmongers into murdering three million innocent men, women and children within their own borders. These acts include hundreds of My Lai-type incidents according to the DoD. So, just what the hell are 'you' thinking these hapless, misguided and abused men were doing there on your behalf?
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are much the same in that neither nation possessed the means or will to do harm to the people of the United States. Still, in Iraq we used depleted-uranium munitions that resulted in hundreds and likely thousands of babies being born horribly deformed and often dead. So, again, please explain to me just what service the vets you thank provided while engaged in these atrocities in Iraq?
I know this comes across as harsh but but this continued self-deceit will ever more promote crimes against humanity 'over there'. I suggest that instead of 'thank you for your service' we all say please forgive us for allowing you to be so abused in this way by our government. This might well prove itself to be therapy addressing the epidemic of those suffering PTSD. Regarding this last I am sure that a man who uses violence to defend his home and family will not experience PTSD; there is no karmic debt in self defense or defense of others. However, using violence against others even though sickly justified by a corrupted sense of patriotism does cause soul damage; ie: PTSD.
Last, this hoped-for shift in perspective could initiate in the US citizenry the necessary self-reflection to honor with action your request to be forgiven by all those suffering vets. A reasonable beginning would be to put an end to the militarization of our football games. More and better, bring our military home, reduce it by half and use most of the remaining to support Americans experiencing the horrific ongoing effects of climate change--we pay these military costs anyway. It is time thank you for your service becomes a sane, sensible and meaningful utterance.