Three Curses of No Military Service: Almost Served Guy, Mr. Thank You and The Liar

| October 1, 2021

Yahoo News came out with an article yesterday that attempts to break down the groups of people that never served in the military.  The author divides them into three groups: 1) the Almost Served Guy, 2) the Mr. Thank You, and 3) The Liar.

I don’t know if it is as simple as that but the article was entertaining in its attempt to categorize.

The three curses

by Trent Reedy
Thu, September 30, 2021

All service members, no matter their military job or duty station, must eventually face three curses so universal that I’d be shocked to find a single one who has not encountered them.

The first curse is Almost Served Guy. Many who never served in the military love talking about how they very nearly signed up. Of course, there are many legitimate reasons why a person might not serve. One friend of mine wept because his asthma prevented his enlistment. But while my asthmatic friend’s situation was a heartbreaking tragedy, a true Almost Served Guy is just a tragic joke.

Almost Served Guy’s excuses are usually attempts at self-aggrandizement. He nearly enlisted, but he’s so tough, he worried he’d punch the angry drill sergeants. The Marines wouldn’t let him sign up as an underwater sniper recon space paratrooper. An Almost Served Guy once tried to impress one of my friends, a major who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan, by explaining he canceled his enlistment after receiving a football scholarship to a major university. “You could tell he’d never been in shape,” she said. “I just said, ‘Oh, cool.’ I don’t know why anyone would think I’d be impressed by that.”

The second curse is Mr. Thank You. Don’t get me wrong. No good American wants to go back to a 1970s-style situation with leftists spitting on returning soldiers. Soldiers appreciate gratitude. But Mr. Thank You takes it too far, saying things like, “I would have no freedom if you hadn’t served.” The U.S. military is crucial to preserving liberty, but Mr. Thank You talks as though that one service member personally secured his freedom to vote, take out a mortgage, or eat a hot dog. His gushing gratitude often just comes across as self-loathing. I encountered a Mr. Thank You once when out drinking with my best Army buddies. “Thank you so much for my freedom,” he said. “I didn’t have the courage or strength to enlist. I wasn’t as good as you.” It was super uncomfortable.

“I appreciate that.” I finally had to interrupt him. “But unless this is going to end in you buying me a beer, I’d like to return to my conversation with my friends.”

The final curse is the Liar. The worst of the Liars violate the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, which makes it illegal to lie about one’s service to claim jobs, money, or other benefits. Otherwise, it’s perfectly legal to lie about military service, and somehow, service members often get stuck listening to these stories. The Liar’s tales are usually ridiculous but harmless, as when a co-worker claims to have been an Air Force pilot shot down by the Soviets over the Bering Strait or when your barista explains he was this close to catching Osama bin Laden while on a secret mission in Argentina.

But once in a while, the Liar does something worse. Sgt. Lisbon served in my company as we trained for Afghanistan. He was a highly respected infantryman who’d passed through the difficult Army Ranger School and was qualified for explosives ordnance disposal, or EOD. Rangers are top-notch fighters, and EOD soldiers are explosives experts tasked with safely destroying unexploded bombs, a precise, technical job.

“You guys are combat engineers?” Lisbon sneered at my fellow engineer and me. “I need to see what you know before I let you handle explosives.”

The problem was that Lisbon never had Ranger or EOD training. In an infantry company, he might’ve been able to fake being a Ranger, but when working with explosives, especially on the EOD level, one must know what one’s doing. Had Lisbon attempted, with no training, to work with C4 plastic explosives or IEDs, he probably would’ve killed us. Fortunately, his lies were discovered, and he was busted in rank and stripped of authority.

The three curses — Almost Served Guy, Mr. Thank You, and the Liar — are real. Sooner or later, every service member encounters them.

*Some names and call signs in this story may have been changed due to operational security or privacy concerns.

Trent Reedy served as a combat engineer in the Iowa National Guard from 1999 to 2005, including a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Category: Stolen Valor, Stolen Valor Act

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Old tanker


Eric (The OC Tanker)

Thanks for hot keying the net smuck. Red-con 1. When’s chow.

I need coffee!!!


There is a 4th, the ‘ Hey do you know my cousin? He was in the Army too’ guy. I get this one all the time, as if every service member is required to know everyone else.

A Proud Infidel®™

I’m very familiar with that one myself!


I’d get odd stares when I said I was in the Navy. That stopped after a while.


Ah, yes, phone calls: “Can you find my son? He’s at Fort-something.”

USMC Steve

Only had that one time. I said, “I think so. Wasn’t he a cocksucker that got tossed out?” Conversation ended right there and then.


That 4th guy was really annoying. Even after being retired for eight years I still get them when they find out I served.

Bill Bunker

Fuck me, that one is annoying. You seriously think I know every damned sailor in the Navy personally? “Sure, me and the Admiral, we’re tight!” Give me a break.

One great thing about being retired is not having to smile and be polite to the general public because uniform. Now I can tell them where to go, in detail, and the worse is that the Boss squares me off after for being a grumpy old shit.

Name edited to protect PII.


What a great compare/contrast, the so-called combat engineer above and combat engineer Stern in the previous article!


Just had one last week: “I tried to join and even got sworn in but when they took my blood pressure it was too high so they put me out.” Was even better than the guy two weeks ago who was “sworn in , sent to a post in Oklahoma for training then while there they found out I had not gone through Basic so they threw me out.” Was a busy month for ’em.


I keep hoping that some day I will run into that draft dodger I saw getting thrown out of the Pentagon in the fall of 1967. I lived up at the Naval Annex, at Quarters K. You could see everything from up there, just not details bu that useless twig was wearing all dark clothing, quite visible from where I was even if I couldn’t see details.

I keep hoping he’ll show up looking for bennies, just so that I can rip him a new one. 🙂

Oh, was that mean of me?


I’ve given a lot of thought over the years as to just exactly why “Thank you for your service” makes me uncomfortable and I think I’ve finally figured it out. The reason I don’t like hearing “thank you for your service” from someone is because, if I’m being honest with myself, I didn’t serve for them (or for you, or for anyone else.) I served because it was what _I_ wanted to do. I served for my own reasons. And I’d guess that most of us in the all-volunteer force probably did too. We served because we wanted the challenge of military service, or because we wanted to get out of the dead-end town we were living in, or because we were running with the wrong crowd and we knew that sooner or later we’d end up in jail. We served because the notion of going to State U., partying with the guys at Kappa Epsilon Gamma, marrying the girl from Sigma Epsilon Xi, getting a middle management white collar job at Initech putting cover sheets on the TPS reports and buying a 3 bedroom house in the suburbs just didn’t appeal to us. We wanted to travel the world, to see things most people never see, to do things most people never do, and to just live a “bigger” life. The other thing that bothers me about “TYFYS” is that it implies that military service is always a sacrifice, always a burden. As if we had some great career path lined up in the civilian world but we said “no, no, I will put that aside so I can serve my country.” (I mean, Pat Tillman might have done that, but most of us aren’t Pat Tillman.) That’s not to say that military service doesn’t have its burdens and its sacrifices – certainly it does. Whether it’s hours spent on guard duty when you’d rather be sleeping, deployments to 3rd world shitholes (where you are literally shitting in a hole), missed holidays, birthdays and graduations, relationships strained by long absences, or the very real danger of death or serious… Read more »


It wasn’t always a pleasure, but it was always a privilege.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

The other thing about the “TYFYS” crew is that a lot of them still think you were a fucking moron for serving, but it’s now socially unacceptable to say that in public…

Having served from 77-83 it was nice knowing which of my “friends” felt I was a jackass who was either stupid or wasting my talent for joining…

It was clear and obvious….

These days those same folks are all nice about our current veterans, but their belief veterans had no choice because of their lack of options persists…

I know some folks are genuine about the TYFYS remarks, but a lot of people use it like a stranger saying good morning…it means nothing and carries no useful weight.

It makes the person saying it feel good about themselves without any meaning or value beyond that.

Green Thumb

It is still prevalent and socially acceptable to say those things in liberal academia.


Even though don’t say bad sh*t now (TYFYS, you know) they’re still thinkin’ bad sh*t like back in the day; i.e., we collect ears, zap people with TA-312s and, if decent, are mentally “scarred” by service. I’m polite, but can’t resist screwing with idjiots.

Q: “What do you feel most killing terrorists?”
A: “Recoil!” (or “Job satisfaction!”).

Q: “How many babies did you kill?”
A: “37!” (any two-digit odd number works).

Q: “Didn’t you have nightmares?”
A: “On the anti-malarial drugs, I had dreams about bangin’ skanky chick’s so bad I had to take a shower when I woke up!”


Part of the reason for this is The Great Society.

I had a very interesting conversation with an old 101st Vietnam Veteran and retired colonel.

He described described graduating from high school as a young black man in the early ’60s looking for a job. The first question he was asked was ‘have you done your service’.

No one wanted to hire someone that was going to get drafted, everyone appreciated that the military made you a better worker, and most importantly, everyone saw it as every young man’s duty.

He decided to enlist, ended up volunteering for Airborne and later OCS, and the rest is history.

The Great Society attempted to the military as a jobs program and social engineering tool. As a result, public perception of military service changed- Vietnam amplified this. You were no longer seen as doing your duty and coming out as a better person, you were seen as someone who couldn’t find better path than the one the government gave you. This is also why guys like Clinton were admired for their repeated dodges of service.

Ironically, the communists and hippie’s real motivation for hating the military was based in their own classist view of society.


“But you’re too smart to be in the military– why?”

I’d rather they just “thank you” and we’re on their way… like Jack Nicholson said


what I get for posting on a phone…


Spot on Mj. I think that sums up a lot of us.

Green Thumb

Knew dudes that served to get their feet fixed, teeth fixed, college money, get out of trouble, get a job because they lacked credible employment skills, prove themselves worthy or, as one older guy did years back, got divorced and got bored.


That was nice dissertation, one I agree with and resemble very much.

Bradley SaintJohn

. . : w0w : . .
Thank You For Your Reply . . .
BEST EXPLANATION I have yet heard . .
Q. How should I in your opinion . say something about your service ? ? ? ?


A type of Mr. Thank You sits on a stool at a local traffic island begging for money.
When a vehicle with vet plates approaches he stands up and salutes.


I like the homeless “veteran” who upgraded his pants from BDU to ACU to MultiCam/OCP as time went on.


I was “Mr. Almost Didn’t Serve”. Doc found an undiagnosed hernia at MEPS. Rejected for enlistment (Oh, the outrage! I have a right to serve! /SARC/). Got it repaired, back to MEPS 6 months later. MOS I wanted (67T) had an 8 month waiting list. Told the career counselor I wasn’t interested in anything else, went to wait for the bus. He comes out in a bit, says hey, check this out. 31Q. I said yes. And 24 years years slipped away.


You must be a criminal mastermind! All signaleers are!!!! Devils hands,,, and all!!!😁😂😂😂☺️. I’m signal too. More articles15s a than any branch I’m sure!!


Never got an Article 15, but I damn sure earned a few. Thanks to some creative corrective training by my NCO’s, my record stayed clean. Often indicted, never convicted.




I’m civilian, but have been surrounded by veterans my entire professional and personal life.

Here’s why I say thank you for your service (without gushing):

Respect. Because you didn’t have to volunteer. It may have served your own purposes (getting out of a bad town, bad life, etc.) but you took the difficult path. And that is worthy of anyone’s respect.

Appreciation of real sacrifice. Veterans burn up a lot of their lives, even in a short enlistment. You use up your body, maybe even damage it. Some witness real atrocities, even during “peacetime” missions. Whatever your branch or rank, you live more than the average person. What was it Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the age, it’s the mileage.”?

Then, after all that, you have to get out and compete with civilian schlubs who have lived soft lives.

Why I say it to police officers also:

Not to state the obvious, but police officers take a lot of shite. I hope a positive statement negates at least one negative interaction. If it prevents him/her from burning out for a little while longer, then great.

I could go on, but I won’t. That might turn into gushing.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

Sincerity matters, and sincerity tends to be obvious (without gushing)….

I think we all appreciate sincerity…

But we all also tend to be aware that others have given far more than we have and that makes a lot of us feel uncomfortable for thanks we are not certain we deserve…

But we do appreciate your honesty and sincerity…

Green Thumb

“Appreciation of real sacrifice. Veterans burn up a lot of their lives, even in a short enlistment. You use up your body, maybe even damage it. Some witness real atrocities, even during “peacetime” missions. Whatever your branch or rank, you live more than the average person. What was it Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the age, it’s the mileage.”? ”

Fuck Yeah.




Kudos. Spot on.


I don’t want to make you guys squirm or upset you when I say TYFYS. I think thoughts and feelings are being projected onto the statement that (some) civilians don’t mean. The sentiment comes from a good place – at least in flyover country. Should we stop saying it? Should we replace it with a big ol’ smooch on the cheek? 😉


I’m not totally squirmy about it, but when someone I know to be a veteran of Viet Nam, Korea, or even WWII thanks me, i just don’t feel worthy of it. They all went through far more than I ever did. It’s still appreciated, but I feel I should be thanking them. And that includes all you miscreants, dickweeds, and deplorables here at TAH.


The thing that bothers me most about TYFYS is that it seems to have become almost an obligatory response to finding out that someone served. It’s as if people are afraid someone will castigate them for NOT saying it when they discover that someone serve in the armed forces.

So is that TYFYS a genuine expression or is it just “what you’re supposed to say?”

Maybe it’s just me but it always feels like an awkward ritual to me. The person finds out I’m a veteran and then says the obligatory “TYFYS” and I mumble a quick “thank you” or something like that. It just feels stilted and unnatural.

I’ve never felt like my service was a sacrifice, so it’s not something you need to thank me for.

A gold star mother or a disabled vet is more worthy of a TYFYS than I am. Or a rose on a grave at a military cemetery. Those are the ones who sacrificed.


I do understand what you’re saying on a certain level. If I told any of the veterans in my life right now TYFYS they would all say “Awww, I didn’t do nothin’.”

We (the civilian people) also love you because you are humble and self-deprecating.


Actually, on second thought, the SF guys would just kind of grin, and wouldn’t say a thing.


I think one of the biggest things that always irks me about the “TYFYS” crowds, is even though they mean well, is they generally assume we had no where else to go BUT the service. “Aww…thank you for being the lowest echelon of citizen and having no other viable means of self sufficiency, so you chose to be cannon fodder!”

On recruiting duty, I had a fairly well to do area and put in quite a few kids who families earned high six figure incomes. They could’ve done anything, and lots of times were being groomed to either enter the family business or go the Fortune 500 route, but…they wanted MORE. And there is nothing wrong with that. I came from a single parent HH (my old man died when I was 16), I didn’t want to put undue financial burden on my mom, so I joined when I was a senior. I was smart, but lazy. Sure, I could’ve taken student loans but with no discipline I would’ve failed out of school and probably STILL be living at home.

Now? I retired 4 years ago: graduated college 3x over, have no debt, have owned 2 houses and support a family of 5. The military gave me stability, and imparted values in me that you just don’t find anywhere else.


I worked with a fellow who interjected, “I almost joined the Marines” one too many times.

A young lady in our department had been an admin clerk in the Army (I don’t recall her MOS). She was almost painfully shy.

One day a group of us were at lunch and I had asked her about some of her experiences (I was Petroleum Supply which during my time was 77F) and of course the would-be jarhead scoffed at her “soft” training, and said, “Some of us can’t just go the easy route. That’s the difference between us, I guess.”

She softly, but audibly and sharply responded, “No, the difference is that I didn’t ‘almost join’.”

He found a new lunch crew from that day forward, and was not missed.


Oh, Bravo! Nicely done!


Boom! She shoots, she scores!

Hack Stone

Then she said “Now go get me a samwich, bitch.”

Hack Stone was out of boot two or three days when he met his first bullshitter. Went into a bar with Hack’s older brothers and their buddies, and of course all the attention was centered on yours truly. Guy comes up to Hack and starts spreading the fertilizer.

Stolen Valor Guy: I have seven Purple Hearts.

Hack Stone: Seven Purple Hearts? How many tours did you do in Viet of The Nam?

Stolen Valor Guy: Oh, I never went to Vietnam. I was a Drill Instructor, and everyone time a recruit would drop a hand grenade, I would cover him with my buddy, and they would give me a Purple Heart.

Hack Stone: That’s not how it works.


In a perfect world, she wouldn’t have demanded the sammich until after she had donned a strap-on and made him her bitch after gallons of tears, ear-piercing screeches, and unstoppable rectal bleeding.

A Proud Infidel®™

I once Worked a job as a “Telepest” (Not a bit proud of it, but it paid the bills until I found something better) where I had some girl at the next desk tell me that she was in the USMC and the way she said it tripped my ACME® Bullshit Detector™, so my next question to her was “Where did you do Basic, Welnor or Camp Ferris?” to which the reply from a real USMC Vet would be a hearty “FUCK YOU, I did Boot at…” to which her reply was “Camp Ferris” after which I said “Okay” because I needed that job at the time and she was in a clique with the supervisor so…


My Dad was a WWII combat mortar man.
He passed at the age of 82 quite awhile back.
At his funeral, I realized that I had never thanked him for his service.

Flash forward to about 23 years later.
My wife and I were waiting for a tour bus just outside of Hale Koa in Hawaii. As we were waiting, I saw an elderly gentleman in a wheel chair wearing a WWII veterans cap, surrounded by his wife and family. My guess is they were going to the Arizona monument.

I said to my wife “just a minute” and walked over to him. When I got there,I stuck out my hand and said “excuse me sir , I just wanted to thank you for your service”. A small tear rolled down his eye as we shook hands….his family became very quiet. I walked back to my wife.

As we stood there, she held my hand and squeezed it, and I swear I felt my Dad’s hand on my shoulder. Tears flowed down my face as we both stood there. Thanks Dad.

Dennis - not chevy

I was at a party at the local university when some big looking guy asked me if I belonged there. I showed my credentials that proved I did belong there. My presence confused the university big shots since I never went there as a student nor was I an employee. Next came the TYFYS and looks of pity. I had had enough, I reminded them that it is easier to get into college than it is to get into the military. I felt a certain satisfaction as I watched the pitiers hold their manhoods cheaply.

The Stranger

My personal “favorite” is the “ I got sent home from Basic/Boot because I kicked my Drill Sergeant’s/DI’s/TI’s ass.” I’ve run into about a half dozen of those clowns over the years, and it never fails to make me chuckle. Trying to land one on an instructor is damn near impossible, and even if you did, Drills would be coming out of the ground to kick your ass like Agent Smiths in the 2nd Matrix movie. Then the MP’s would have their turn:
“What happened to him?”
“He fell down the stairs.”
“This is a single-story building”

A Proud Infidel®™

I’ve had the same, I once had to work with an assclown who “called” himself a Veteran and then brayed to me about how he said he kicked his First Sergeant’s ass during USMC Boot Camp and was shown the door… I just said “yeah, right” and went about my day, I considered him a waste of time, flesh and oxygen after that.

Skivvy Stacker

I wish I had a million dollars for every time I’ve heard that one.
“I kicked my instructor’s ass”
And yet, here you stand, free as a bird, without a broken up face, in a wheel chair, with a glass eye, and a pair of hearing aids, at the age of 20.


Mel Brooks movie Life Stinks.
(Sailor) – “They call me Sailor, cuz I was almost in the Navy.”

Green Thumb

You folks at TAH should re-title it: Four Curses of No Military Service: Almost Served Guy, Mr. Thank You, The Liar and The Phildo.

The complexity of The Phildo brings its own “thing” to the game.

RGR 4-78

“The Phildo”

The Phildo served, but still feels his dick is to little.

Hack Stone

What about thanking those who served in other capacities? Have any of you reached out to Psaul Of The Ballsack to thank him for serving the residents of Montgomery County by performing court imposed community service? Those malt liquor cans on Rockville Pike ain’t going to pick themselves up.

Prior Service

I don’t “get” the thank-yous either, but one of my proudest days was flying into San Antonio for my daughter’s graduation from USAF basic. I took her out on the town in her dress blues. We are walking along and people are saying “thank you for your service.“. I am unshaven and in civvies but am now conditioned to look when I hear it, but they are saying it to my daughter, not me. What?? So cool of her to join and for me to hear it as a dad, not the service member. Is it awkward? Yes. But it’s my firm belief that most people mean well by it and we should just figure out how to take it gracefully (I still haven’t…).

Daisy Cutter

One day, I went to a restaurant for lunch. Several of us were in uniform. It was a small town not used to having military in uniform. As we filed in, an older guy sitting with his family stood up and rendered a hand salute and held it. He then proceeded to sing, very loudly, “God Bless America – Land That I Love.”

The man’s family squirmed and to be quite honest, I did too. I struggled to define my uneasiness because I didn’t want to think anything was wrong or inappropriate. I think my uneasiness was partly because I didn’t know how to respond as this played out for two minutes – hold a thumb’s up, look at the menu, return the salute?. I think a quick, snappy hand salute on the man’s part would have sufficed.

Later, a few of us walked over and thanked him and asked him about his service – since often they have served as well.

To this day I have never fully comprehended why I felt uncomfortable at the disruption. If it was something that man wanted to do, who am I to deny him of it or make him feel bad for doing so?

Hack Stone

September 1983, Hack Stone is back home on leave for his older brother’s wedding. Some time during those ten days home, Hack participated in a softball game with his brother’s friends. One young man comes up to Hack and tells him that he enlisted in The Marine Corps. Hack asks him what MOS did he sign for. Slacker guy replied “Walking point for Recon patrols.” Hack responded “That’s not an MOS. Wouldn’t you just know it, he shipped to Parris Island and was back in New Jersey a few weeks. He told Hack’s brother that he could reapply in six months. The Marine Corps’ loss is the Viet Congs gain.


I think there is another, even worse category: The ‘I’m Gonna be a Cool Guy Guy’

This is your friends kid that comes to the cookout and finds out you were in the service, then tells you very matter of factly that while whatever you did was okay, he is going to be a (Pick one or write in your favorite: SEAL, Marine, Ranger, Green Beret, Combat Controller, Space Shuttle Door Gunner, Delta Operator, _____________).

He will condescendingly inform you that you don’t really understand which branch is better, which job is better, or even which units are better, because he’s been on Reddit and he once talked to a recruiter who said that he was definitely a top candidate based entirely on the 5 minute conversation they had in the Home Depot parking lot.

I had this kid come over to the house. He noticed my old regimental colors and a print I have of the 504th crossing the Waal river (famous from A Bridge Too Far). He then proceeded to tell me that although the Army did some cool stuff back in WWII, they were now a defensive branch, which is why he’s going to join the Marines (in two years when he graduates), who seize the terrain so the Army can hold it.

I tried very gently and politely to explain what the branches actually do, and he wasn’t having it. I finally told him to shut up and come back when he’s actually done some of the things he admires others for doing, and maybe we would talk.

I see him every now and then when I take the kids to GameStop, where he works these days. Never even enlisted.


You should very loudly greet him, “HEY, HOW’S IT GOING MARINE?!?! OOOHHHH RAHHHHH !!! Oh,wait… “ 😄🖕😛
Gee, that would be a dick move, wouldn’t it?
Sorry, I *can* be a bit of a dick sometimes.


“….sometimes.”? mmmmkay…if you say so.


HEY, that was *completely* unnecessary!!!.
I thought it was patently obvious.
You’re just mad OAM loves me more!!!


“The Marines wouldn’t let him sign up as an underwater sniper recon space paratrooper.”

..and the coffee went straight up my nose. BZ!


What’s so funny? It’s a really hard MOS to get, and a lot of guys would rather just stock groceries at Food Lion if they can’t pursue their dreams.

Skivvy Stacker

I almost got that MOS, but they needed me more in Supply Administration. You really gotta be tough when you’re a Recon SEAL Paraglider Snipehunting Combat Infantry Supply Administration Marine.


I recently had a young female on LinkedIn tell me ghost she’s an 18D. I asked her where she’s stationed. She says “Fort Worth”.


I recently had a patient tell me he had been in in CAG.I asked where he went to SF Combat Dive School he told me Bethesda MD…I said oh,… that’s….interesting and pretty much let it go after that.

Nothing surprises me anymore.


Paul of the Ballsack from Phildo’s SPECOPS academy runs it, so I heard, all the troops are certified and then assigned to the USS Jaguar for ultra top secret missions.
Good to see you back posting IDC. 👊🏻


Yeah, they get the Endor clasp on their Battle of Hoth campaign ribbon, too.