I've made no secret that I spent 12 years in the US Army and Reserve, with the vast majority of that time in the Reserve (in fact I was active duty only for my training time and a couple of extra activations).
Every time (lately) someone hears that I served, they "thank me for my service." I appreciate the sentiment, it's both good and nice that people now recognize it's not easy, and far more so than for me, it's extremely stressful for those who were deployed overseas to a combat area, and even more than just stressful, dangerous/scarring for those who served in combat directly.
To THOSE folks (who served overseas and in even more in combat), I express my deep and profound thanks and gratitude. The bottom line is, as soldiers, we go where we're sent, no matter the political leader or reason for the warfare. We (they) served, and that service is beyond honorable, it's self-sacrificial with the laudable and idealistic goal of protecting US citizens AND the citizens of the country in which they served. A simple thank-you is hardly sufficient, but at least on this webpage, and in person at that exact moment, it's all I have and all I can do.
But it's not all I can do in general nor is it close enough to "enough." If you TRULY are grateful, VOTE, exercise your civic responsibility, show honor to their sacrifice to give you that right by using it. If you are TRULY grateful, speak up, get educated, get involved, learn why our system of government works so well (mostly), and what you OUGHT to care about. But more than anything else, if you are TRULY grateful, vote for those people who will fund the Veterans Administration and PAY for the care those veterans. who were injured in service, deserve to receive. In short, put your money where your mouth is. Pay out of your pocket for their care, for the care of their surviving family members (for those who've died), for the care for the roughly 2 MILLION homeless vets who need mental health care and a warm meal. Saying "thanks" is nothing more than conscience salving lip-service letting you get away with doing nothing REAL if you don't back it up with action. So, put up or shut-up, I appreciate your thanks, but if you really mean your thanks, act, don't talk. Often times, when I hear "thank you", I want to laugh at it because it's such pablum, so hollow, without the actions to back it up. If you are acting to help vets, then that's FAR FAR more meaningful to me than any words, and I'm very grateful that you did/do. The point being, we've all been thanked 10,000 times, and if you aren't doing something (like pressing your Congressman to support veteran's benefits) then you're talking out both sides of your face and your thanks appear to be nothing other than hypocrisy. So ACT.