5 Things You Shouldn’t Ask A Veteran (Or Their Spouse)

As many of you know my husband, Mike, is a veteran. He served in Afghanistan 7 years ago. He made it home just in time for Christmas that year. Since his safe return, we have moved away from military life and on to other life adventures.

As Remembrance Day in Canada approaches we take the time to remember those who serve, past and present. I am incredibly thankful that my soldier made it home more then ever this time of year. And while most people take the time to thank Mike for his service this time of year, some most defiantly like to ask very prying questions.

It seems like the same questions get asked every year. And, to be honest, they are intrusive and triggering… and just not appropriate. Even though most questions come from an innocent curiosity, it’s best to just avoid questions about their time overseas. You really never know what can trigger someone. If you know a veteran or their family and you would like to say something, just a simple thank you will do. Maybe even buy them a coffee.

But please, stay away from asking these.







5 Things You Shouldn’t Ask A Veteran (Or Their Spouse!):

How Could You (Let Your Spouse) Leave Your Family To Go To War?

Did You (Your Spouse) Kill Someone / See Someone Die?

What’s The Worse Thing That Ever Happened To You Over There?

What Was It Like Over There?

Do You (Your Spouse) Suffer from PTSD After?

How Could You (Let Your Spouse) Leave Your Family To Go To War?

Why shouldn’t you ask these things? Well you may have the best intentions, all  these questions have one main thing in common – they can be triggering. A soldier may have come home, but that doesn’t mean they are not fighting their own battles. And it takes a lot of time to fight those inner battles.

So please, as we take time to remember those who have served or are currently serving, remember to be sensitive and understanding.

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  1. Maria says:

    I think above all its just a matter of common decency… The questions you mentioned are just way too personal for anyone to ask a veteran, and I mean to a level of indelicacy for even friends.

  2. corinne & kirsty says:

    To be 100% honest with you, asking these questions would have never crossed my mind. They are so personal that as long as the person does not open to me about it and just would not ask. As you said, intrusive and insensitive. But it is good that you remind people of that

  3. Brigette Collins says:

    I think these questions are honestly outright rude and inconsiderate. I have a cousin that served for several years and I could see the change from it. I think it is just tasteless and disrespectful.

  4. Ant says:

    Wow. I can’t believe some people would ask some of those questions. I’ve heard the “what was it like over there” before, Thanks for reminding people what not to ask. Unfortunately, I think that those who would ask aren’t avid blog readers. So important to address it to them when asked.

  5. Ana Vukosavljevic says:

    I think this is a great post and that everyone should read it. Some questions people really need to STOP asking. Thank you for this!

    • AlainaMonster says:

      I’m not an expert in the area by any means – but if I had to guess, I’d say it has to do with video games and TV shows that normalize killing on some level. But war is not a video game or TV show. It’s real life. And I think that people have a hard time seeing the difference.
      Thank you for your service and sacrifice <3

  6. Tiffany Yong says:

    I didn’t know it is insensitive to be asking “what is it like over there”, because I guess I’m really quite curious. But thanks for saying it out loud to let us know these are the taboos!

    • AlainaMonster says:

      And I completely understand why someone would ask these questions. I don’t think any veteran would think these questions were asked in anything but innocence. But a lot of soldiers lost their friends, family, and even a piece of themselves over there … and asking even this innocent question can be a huge trigger. I know a soldier who watched his friend get blown up, and any time he’s asked this question he just shuts down because that’s all he can remember about what it was like over there. It’s a dark time for many.

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