Veterans: 'Welcome home, thanks for your service'

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WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) -

Those are the words that some local veterans hope you will say to those who have served in the military.

"A lot of us think that thank you is really for the guys that gave the ultimate sacrifice and never came back. They're the ones that should really be thanked. Rest of us just want to be welcomed home," said David Blanding, Navy veteran and volunteer for the Kansas Honor Flight.

He remembers not getting a warm welcome back home.

"When the Vietnam vets came back, it was an entirely different world. We were called names. We were spit on, all kinds of things, because it was a different era," he said.

A recent poll commissioned by the Cohen Veterans Network, a national not for profit network of mental health clinics for post-9/11 veterans and military families, showed that nearly half (49%) of veterans and active-duty service members feel uncomfortable being thanked for their service.

"Welcome home is all we really want. The best way to thank us is just to honor all veterans, regardless of their age, older vets, brand new vets," said Blanding. "The guys, ladies in uniform today need us, especially this time of year, because you take for granted you're going to have Thanksgiving dinner with your family."

Blanding's son is also a military veteran. He said the words of gratitude are appreciated but can sometimes make him feel uneasy.

"We don't do it for recognition. We really don't. So, when someone comes up and says, 'Thank you for your service,' it kinda catches me off guard at first. I did (enlist) because of 9/11," said Josh Blanding, Marine veteran.

He added, "In my eyes, if you truly want to thank a vet, go support one of the foundations for them, go visit the hospitals, go see the veterans and actually thank them in person."

The Blandings ask people to think beyond the words and what it means for military men and women to come home.

"What we really want them to do is just remember there's thousands and thousands of veterans that are serving today that are deployed overseas. They will be away from their families. Just think of them and pray for them while they're out serving," said Blanding.

To view a list of ways you can support veterans, click here.

To donate to the Kansas Honor Flight, click here

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