Military Discounts Are Not Entitlements

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[Nords note:  This guest post resonates with me, so I’m putting it up a week early.  Before the Veterans Day retail craze kicks off the holiday shopping season, I’d like to share this important reminder from Rick Kuehn of GruntRoll.

Please remember why the holiday exists and thank your local veterans.]

So, you’re like me. You walk up to the register at a popular retail store; there are three people in line behind you.  Although you’re only twenty minutes from a military base, you’ve done your best to grow your hair out and blend in with the civilian population. You’re facing the same dilemma so many of us feel: is it embarrassing to ask for a discount solely because you’re in the military?

The act alone is not embarrassing at all. The technique in which you make your request determines whether you’re a fiscally intelligent shopper or a privileged jerk. The American “Support The Troops” movement is powerful and effective for helping those who sacrifice know exactly how much their efforts are appreciated. As an unintended consequence, some members of our community are beginning to feel like superior citizens.

As members of the strongest military in the world, we need to “play the part”. According to this Reddit, employees of retail stores are reporting unsatisfactory behavior from both military members and spouses. Some of the military members and spouses cause a scene, even described as “throwing a tantrum” simply because they didn’t receive a military discount. If this is you, you need to stop immediately.

When I get to a checkout register (at almost every store I patronize), I’ll casually ask if they offer a discount.  Usually, the answer is “no”, and I politely thank them and proceed with the transaction. Because these military discounts are fairly common, most cashiers have been asked before.  You aren’t going to hurt our image by politely making the request, but you might save yourself a significant amount of money.

When a cashier informs you there’s no military discount at his or her location, you only have one option. You thank them and pay as a normal customer. Your behavior affects the public’s perception of the entire military and Veteran community, and arguing with the cashier makes us look like spoiled children.

Consider how the public would view the military if we all behaved in such a fashion. If this sort of behavior continues, our country loses confidence in the powerful image of the military we’ve all worked so hard to create.  If you know the company does have a company-wide policy which includes a discount for military personnel (like Home Depot or Lowe’s), then feel free to politely ask to speak with a manager.

Always remember: today’s support for the men and women who don our uniforms is unwaveringly high, but this wasn’t always the case. Somehow we went from the low point of being spit on when returning from war to acting like we should be fanned with palm leaves. There needs to be a middle ground, and I hope we can all find it soon.

Rick Keuhn runs GruntRoll, an informational website about military discounts.

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WHAT I DO: I help you reach financial independence. For free. I retired in 2002 after 20 years in the Navy's submarine force. I wrote "The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement" to share the stories of over 50 other financially independent servicemembers, veterans, and families. All of my writing revenue is donated to military-friendly charities.

  1. This posts exposes many issues. On thing that comes to mind first is how does one who is not military retired, or carries some other form a permanent ID, such as a VA heath care card ,ever prove they are a veteran or have an association with the DOD. There are vast population groups i n the military, National Guard, honorably discharged who served less than 20 who really carry no form of ID which may qualify for some supposed “discount”. That on the surface seems to be a fairness issue right there.

    Another is the constant confusion in the military community what is an entitlement and what is a benefit. Military retired pay for those with 20+ is an entitlement, written into US Code title 10. Tricare for military retired, for example, is a benefit, and subject to modification and change, or even going away, depending on congress, food for thought.

  2. It will probably not surprise you that I LOVE this post. I wish I had written it. I want to shake hands with the person that wrote it. I am jealous that you got to publish it.


    Comment? Question? What's on your mind?