DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way to react when someone says their loved one is being deployed?
Often times, people feel honored and excited to serve their country; however, most have some level of sadness and trepidation. I don't want to come off as thinking it is a death sentence, but I want to convey the proper sympathy.
GENTLE READER: If you must guess at people's unexpressed feelings -- always a highly risky endeavor -- why assume the negative? Miss Manners assures you that the relatives are well aware of the danger and do not need to you remind them.
You could just as easily say, "You must be very proud," and offer sympathy only if it seems to be requested.