One of them's on my Friends List: stagger_lee77 has done a stint in Iraq and Kuwait and lived to tell the tale (as well as get happily involved with supremegoddess1 once she got back to the Carolinas). She has tales: harrowing and hilarious and horrifying, sometimes all at once.
I have veterans in my family, too. Dad served a full 26-year stint in the Navy: he served in a radar program, a missile program, RIO duty on five aircraft carrier cruises from 1971 to 1983 -- he was the back-seat flier on F-4 Phantoms and F-14 Tomcats, doing almost everything but fly the plane -- and Air Ops duty on his last cruise (U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, August 1988-February 1989, the cruise that included the second Gulf of Sidra incident). Dad was the air traffic controller for all of the Kennedy's planes that were on patrol (i.e. not launching or landing on the carrier, which is its own huge job supervised by the Air Boss). As far as I know, he never got shot at. He'd joined the Navy in 1968, after he and Mom had gotten married; at his 1994 retirement ceremony, Mom noted approvingly that Dad had "never turned in his 40 for two 20s." The two of them now live in Dundee, Oregon, about 30 miles from my home. He's fully retired, and does woodworking, cooking, serious exercise (with Adapt Training in Beaverton), and lots of reading.
His dad was a veteran, too. During World War II, Irv Walsh first got stationed in Alaska's Aleutian Islands, in case Japan ever decided to attack the U.S. that way. After V-E Day, Irv was dispatched to Europe, for clean-up duty and POW supervision. I wonder if he ever dealt with genuine Nazis. (My mom's dad was unable to join the military for the war because of his eyesight.)
One of the men in my office is a veteran in his 30s. I also work a couple of buildings and a skybridge away from the Portland VA Hospital.
And when I was in high school, an older substitute teacher of mine told my class about being among the first troops to reach Hiroshima after the bombing.
They are the veterans I can think of. I'm sure I know more people who are, and I'm just unaware of that part of their lives.
I'm thinking about the veterans. And when I went out this morning to get groceries, I briefly put my hand over my heart when I passed a flag set out for Veteran's Day.