I picked up a new Army Veteran hat that I just bought yesterday and hung it up on top of my Desert Storm hat. My desert storm hat has a Combat Infantry Badge (CIB) pin on the front of it, and I considered placing the pin on my new hat. As I was doing this a thought came to me of a time when I first came home, I had not been back long at the ripe age of 21. I went into a convenience store and was buying something at the register (probably gas) and as I was leaving this young guy maybe a little younger than me was coming in the door.
I had my BDU (Battle Dress Uniform) jacket on with a CIB patch on it. This young punk was coming in the door and looked at the patch on my jacket and said, "Did you earn that?" I immediately went into homicidal ideation, I thought about doing some serious harm to him. But, after what seemed like hours, I told him in as shitty a way that I could and almost screamed at him "YES!" I am pretty sure I had an intimidating posture to put an emphasis on my point. Guess what? Instantaneously he became extremely intelligent and did not say another word.
If you see a person in public with military clothes on, a hat or something that signifies that they were in the military. Do yourself a favor and do not ask him or her about medals, badges, or any insignia they may have displayed right away, especially in a negative way. Tell them welcome home, and then gauge their reaction and if they want to talk to you they may open up some. But, do not take this as an invitation to ask personal information. Our military experiences have an extremely sacred and personal compartment in our minds and hearts that we place them in. Many of us do not even tell our wives, family or friends about what we did or saw.
We do not wear our military memorabilia because we want people to ask us about them, we wear them to remind us of shit we will never be able to forget. If you cannot understand that then you have no business asking us about anything.