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When Vets Come Home: 5 Things You Should Say (and 5 Things You Shouldn’t)

Veterans and experts share personal advice on how to talk to those back from the front lines.

If you’ve ever stopped or stuttered midsentence when talking to a vet recently home from war, you wouldn’t be alone. Not knowing what to say to returning soldiers is a common struggle says Mike Liguori, a former Marine who served during the Iraq War and is now director of community at Unite US, an online platform that connects current and former military members and their families.

Well-intentioned friends and family members may say something that actually increases stress or negative emotions: Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, affects up to 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs. With no official blueprint on how best to help military members ease back into civilian life, we surveyed a range of vets and experts to tell us what’s helpful — or hurtful — for vets to hear from loved ones.

MORE: Bravery After Battle—How This Navy SEAL Uses His War Wounds to Help Fellow Soldiers


What Not to Say

ALSO: How Doing Something With Veterans Does Something for Them (And America)


What to Say

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Feifei Sun is a staff writer at NationSwell. She previously worked at Time and Vanity Fair.