It’s my pleasure!

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Maureen Harback
  • 92d Medical Operations Squadron Commander
Several years ago, I was browsing in a popular electronics store in uniform on my way home from work when a strange man passing by mumbled something my direction and gave me an unusual glance. At the time, my husband and daughter were in different departments of the store and I felt the urge to search them out and escape. Later, from the safety of my car, I realized that man may not have been threatening my life. I turned to my husband and thought out loud, "I think that man just thanked me for my military service." And, I didn't have a chance to thank him. 

Soon after, I was again running errands during lunch at a local off-base store when I passed a couple who made eye contact, smiled and clearly said "Thank you for your service!" This time I was ready...or so I thought. I confidently smiled back and was ready to proudly respond but they were well on their way when I finally came up with, "Uh, thanks?" 

So, my dilemma began: what do I say when someone thanks me for my military service?
I believe, in most cases, when we receive that random "thank you" it is not personal--they don't know me or what I do-- it is their way of expressing their support of the military as a whole. They appreciate that we volunteered to serve and acknowledge that we are a country a war, a time when service may lead to the greatest sacrifice. 

I am proud to be a part of the military and my response to those who express their appreciation for our sacrifice should reflect that pride. My response should not only speak for me but provide a voice for my fellow service members. A simple, reciprocal "thank you" is adequate, but not quite enough. 

How do I capture the pride and appreciation I feel somewhere between a simple "thank you" and a short speech? 

While I contemplated this question, my parents came to visit. And, as is customary in my family, my father pays for meals when we eat at a restaurant. So, after dinner that night, I thanked my dad for dinner and he responded, "It's my pleasure!" And, at that moment, I realized I had it. That says what I feel when someone thanks me for my service. It captures the pride and enthusiasm I feel toward the Air Force and my fellow service members and the appreciation I have for the acknowledgement of our service. 

So, now when I am fortunate enough to hear someone say "Thank you for your service," I smile, stand tall and respond, "It's my pleasure! Thank you for your support." 

We are fortunate to be serving at a time when a majority of citizens appreciate our many sacrifices and often speak up to express that appreciation. So, the next time a citizen thanks you for your service, what will you say?