I'd prefer that if you declare, or vote to declare, war you should be required to serve as a rifleman in that war.
In "For Us The Living" Heinlein describes a system where we only go to foreign war by a direct vote. Those who vote to go to war must serve, those who don't vote are second round draftees and those who vote not to go to war are the last to go. In the book the war vote happened three times and not one of those times did the vote succeed and we stayed out of war.
I like that system and my guess is we would would have saved a ton of blood and treasure since 1965 if we used it.
As far as thanking vets I don't usually do it but on some rare occasions I have. Pretty much only after talking with them and finding out what they did and how they feel about it. I also come from a military family and blindly thanking someone for service is nothing my father or any of my uncles who served ever did so just not something I grew up with.