The three subjects from 'The Way We Get By' waiting at the airport. L-R: Jerry Mundy, Joan Gaudet, Bill Knight. Credit: Sean CarnellLast night’s special Veterans Day broadcast of POV’s The Way We Get By prompted a tremendous response from PBS viewers — in fact, the most viewer emails, comments, tweets, etc. we’ve received in a very long time. Many U.S. service men and women and their families wrote to say that the film reminded them of the time they themselves met the Maine Troop Greeters, and how thankful they were that Joan Gaudet, Jerry Mundy, Bill Knight and the other greeters perform this important community service.

Here are a few of our favorite comments from POV viewers.

I would like to thank you for airing your program on the Bangor, Maine “Troop Greeters.” It once again stirred the emotions I felt when I returned to US soil after many months of deployment to a war zone. To see those folks there at all hours of the morning there to give us hug, pats on the backs and fellowship after many intense and sometimes traumatic experiences that come from combat let me know: “I’m safe now among people who care about me!” It was one of the major positive memories that I called upon to deal with difficult days that haunt me to this day. I will never forget the wonderful woman whom made me sit down with a cell phone and call my mother, wife and children to let them know I was home safely! After the phone conversation with my mother (who spent many sleepless nights, and cried in relief that I was again home) the greeter allowed me to cry on her shoulder and gently wiped the tears from my eye only as a mother could do. That is a memory I will carry through out my life.

My husband and I have been deeply moved by the film. At 82 and 76 years of age, we are saying, If Bill and Joan and Jerry can do something like this, so can we. They are an inspiration to us.

It is Veterans day and I came home from Vietnam 40 years ago. I wish we had been greeted like those in Bangor. The show brought back many memories and reinforced my resolve to make certain our military know I care for them and appreciate what they do.

On the way out of Bangor where I was visiting for surgery, I heard (maybe on the radio?) that there was a troop flight coming in. I just went in and sat and watched. What a wonderful feeling it was to see those people greeting the troops. I am now a widow of a Vietnam veteran, he died in January. It is wonderful to see how people treat out troops now no matter what they think of the war; it was not that way when our Vietnam soldiers returned.

Great documentary! Extraordinary giving of all of the volunteers, especially Bill, Joan, and Jerry. Thank you to all of the active military members and to the Veterans. I’d like to be a part of a greeters group here in Baltimore if you have any leads. Wish I could give Jerry a puppy, Joan all of her family under one roof, and Bill a companion. Even though I don’t know any of you, this documentary has made me care for all of you and want to be like you. Thanks for the inspiration.

I have seen things that I will have to live with for the rest of my life and the feeling of landing home safely on US soil is completely and utterly unparalleled. The only thing that made the experience better was the support of these men and women who came out and shook my hand at 3 in the morning! Thank you for recognizing these vets and civilians who not once, but twice gave me a free phone call to my wife, a proper send-off and a proper homecoming! Awesome.

After I heard the NPR interview with Aaron and Joan Gaudet on NPR (I think it was yesterday?), I was “web surfing” and discovered an organization in my upcoming new home town that serves homeless vets. Tonight I watched the film and experienced it as a good and proper meditation for Veterans’ Day, and it “sealed the deal” on my recently discovered volunteer opportunity. Thank you so much for your great work.

If you are inspired by Joan, Jerry and Bill to volunteer and support the troops in your local community, please enter your zip code on Create the Good’s Volunteering map. For those of you wishing to send comments to the Maine Troop Greeters and the filmmaker, please visit The Way We Get By area of the POV website. Scroll down to see other viewer comments and enter your own!

And don’t forget that you can direct your friends and family who might have missed the television broadcast to catch the film online for the next month on the PBS Video Player. It’s available to watch in its entirety through December 12.

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