Great Questions to Ask a Veteran

An elderly veteran salutes during a ceremony

Rememberance Day & Veterans Day

November 11 marks an important day for both our US & UK clients. In America, Veteran’s Day is a day intended to honor and thank all military personnel who have served, or currently serve in the United States Armed Forces. In Great Britian, Rememberance Day marks the day WWI ended and also functions as a memorial day to honor and remember all those who have died in the line of duty during any war.

One journalist found that while it is custom to offer a “thank you for your service” to the veterans you see in your community, many of them find this to be rather dismissive. Instead, one veteran suggested to, “Start a conversation with us. Ask us how we are, if we need help, if there is something you could do to help us in that moment. You can even ask us what happened. Don’t ask us if we killed someone, but maybe ask if we have a story to share. A lot of us want to share what happened, but we just don’t know how.”

Starting a Conversation

StoryCorps, an organization whose mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories, has put together a list of great questions that you can ask a veteran, or someone who has lost a loved one in combat.

We hope you will use these questions in your senior care communities to create meaningful conversations with those who have bravely served their country and with those who may want to remember a special person today.

MILITARY

  • When were you drafted or when did you enlist?
  • What do you remember about the day you enlisted?
  • How did you tell your family and friends that you were joining the military? Are there any conversations that stand out from that time?
  • If you enlisted, what were some of the reasons that you joined the military? How did you choose your branch of service?
  • How did you imagine military life before you joined? How did your perceptions change after serving?
  • What was basic training like?
  • Can you describe a funny moment from boot camp?
  • What are some of the things you remember about adapting to military life?
  • Where did you serve during the war?
  • If you deployed overseas, how did you tell your loved ones you were being deployed?
  • How did you stay in touch with family and friends back home?
  • What are some things you remember most about your deployment?
  • If you saw multiple deployments, how did they differ from each other? How did you change?
  • Can you describe how you felt coming home from combat?
  • Was there anything you especially missed about civilian life?
  • Is there someone you served with that you remember fondly? Can you tell me about him/her?
  • What are some fun things you and your friends did together while you were deployed?
  • Did any of your military friends play pranks on each other? Can you describe a funny one?
  • Did you ever get caught breaking any rules? Did you ever get away with something you weren’t supposed to do?
  • Did you ever learn something about a fellow service member that surprised you?
  • When did you leave the military? What was that process like?
  • What were your first few months out of the service like?
  • Was there anything or anyone that helped you during the transition from military to civilian life?
  • Do you have advice for others transitioning out of the military?
  • How do you think your time in the military affected you?
  • What did you learn about yourself?
  • What are some of your hopes for the future?
  • What phrase or word will never be the same now that you served?
  • When you were first discharged, what are some things about civilians that were difficult for you to deal with?
  • Is there anything you wish civilians understood about military service?
  • What are some habits you developed in the service that you like? What are some that you dislike?
  • What are some things you miss about being in the service? What are some you are glad to have left behind?
  • What has been difficult to communicate to family and friends about your military service?
  • Do you have advice for other military couples?
  • If you have children, what do you want them to know about your military service?
  • Remembering the Fallen: What was your relationship to _______?
  • Remembering the Fallen: Tell me about _______.
  • Remembering the Fallen: What did _______ look like?
  • Remembering the Fallen: What is one of your favorite memories of _______?
  • Remembering the Fallen: How did you find out about _______’s death?
  • Remembering the Fallen: What has helped you most in your grief?
  • Remembering the Fallen: Do you have any traditions to honor _______?
  • Remembering the Fallen: Do you have any funny stories about the two of you together?

REMEMBERING A LOVED ONE

  • What was your relationship to _____?
  • Tell me about _____.
  • What is your first memory of _____?
  • What is your best memory of _____?
  • What is your most vivid memory of _____?
  • What did _____ mean to you?
  • Are you comfortable/ can you talk about _____’s death? How did _____ die?
  • What has been the hardest thing about losing _____?
  • What would you ask _____ if _____ were here today?
  • What do you miss most about _____?
  • How do you think _____ would want to be remembered?
  • Can you talk about the biggest obstacles _____ overcame in life?
  • Was there anything you and _____ disagreed about, fought over, or experienced some conflict around?
  • What about _____ makes you smile?
  • What was your relationship like?
  • What did _____ look like?
  • Did you have any favorite jokes _____ used to tell?
  • Do you have any stories you want to share about _____?
  • What were _____’s hopes and dreams for the future?
  • Is there something about _____ that you think no one else knows?
  • How are you different now than you were before you lost _____?
  • What is the image of _____ that persists?
  • Do you have any traditions to honor _____?
  • What has helped you the most in your grief?
  • What are the hardest times?

© 2003-2019 StoryCorps, Inc.

Ways to use StoriiCare on Veterans Day or Rememberance Day

Use the Playlists feature to look up songs that were popular during the war.

Use the Places feature to look up significant locations: where they lived, where they went to basic training, places they were stationed, or places they had fond memories of.

If you ask any of the questions listed above, record the conversation you have on your phone or tablet and upload the audio file to your resident/service user’s Profile in their Media folder.

Take and upload photos from your Veterans Day/Rememberance Day service or event to your care community’s Media folder.

StoriiCare is a care management and activity recording software for senior care providers. To schedule a free demo of our innovative and intuitive platform, click here.

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