“Thank you for your service” was the theme presented by guest speaker Col. David A. Strauss (ret.) at the Veterans Day program held Friday, Nov. 10, in Watkins Auditorium in the Boling University Center at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
Strauss, a 39-year Army veteran, spoke to the audience about the phrase “Thank you for your service.”
“What is the service that veterans provide?” he said. “Is it getting up early in the morning and going and doing (physical training)? Maybe it’s deploying. No, I don’t think so.
“I think the service that we provide is that we willingly go into harm’s way to project the will of the United States on our adversaries. Don’t get me wrong; we do a lot of other things. We have operations and humanitarian operations, but when it gets right down to it, we stand in the way of someone – a nation or non-nation state – and we force them to do or to not do something.”
Strauss then asked if that is true, then what is the equal-value compensation that those providing military service receive? Is it the money? Is it the benefits?
“In my opinion, there is no equal compensation for what it is that we do as veterans,” he said. “If there is no equal compensation, perhaps what we should say is not ‘Thank you for your service,’ but ‘Thank you for your selfless service.’”
Strauss then asked that if there is no equal-value compensation, why do those who provide military service do what they do?
“It’s a word, and it’s a word that we don’t use very often these days: Honor,” he said. “It’s that selfless act of putting ourselves in harm’s way to protect our citizens and protect our American way of life so that others don’t have to, and there is no adequate compensation for that.
“It’s the sacrifice or willingness to sacrifice so that others won’t have to. We few stand ready on the wall so others won’t have to, so that they can pursue what the Founding Fathers decreed: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Strauss is a UT Martin alumnus, receiving a commission as lieutenant of infantry in 1993. He enlisted in the Army in 1983 after graduating high school, and in 1999, he completed the Special Forces Operational Detachment Officer Qualification Course and was assigned to the 7th Special Force Group (Airborne).
In 2004, he was selected to be a civil affairs officer, which he served until his retirement in 2022.
A native of Bradford, Strauss and his wife, Cheryl, now live in Elizabethtown, Kentucky. They have three children and four grandchildren.