Asking a family member or friend questions about their military service can be a hard thing, especially if you have little or no experience with the military yourself.

Often, former members of the military will open up to other veterans. If you have someone who is a veteran and willing to help you in your family history interview, consider bringing them along.

It’s important to recognize that there may be questions or subjects that will bring up difficult memories for a military veteran. Here are some good questions to use as starting points when interviewing veterans:

  1. “What was day-to-day life like?”

One of the more innocuous and light-hearted questions, having a veteran describe day-to-day life can often lead to some funny stories and moments.

If you’re lucky, asking this question can open the door to follow-up questions about squad members they mention, responsibilities they had, and even hard things that they had to go through.

  1. “Is there anything you would say to current members of the military?”

Listening to a veteran give advice and reflect on their service can be a powerful experience.

While this question is more introspective and might require a pause in the recording while your veteran thinks about their response, the time is well worth any time spent waiting.

An excellent follow-up question to this might be, “Is there anything you wish you’d known before you began your military service?”

  1. “How has your appreciation for your country grown through your service?”

If you choose to ask this question, be prepared for an energetic answer. Having them speak of their commitment and love for their country is one of the greatest questions you can ask a veteran.

While the answers can vary, this question can bring feelings, opinions, and emotions to the front of a military interview better than any other.

Happy interviewing!