After servicemen and a civilian stopped a terrorist attack on a train in France, and a veteran saved lives in Oregon during a mass shooting Thursday, 23 ABC spoke with local veterans to find out what motivates them to run into harm's way.
According to the U.S. Census there are 21.8 million veterans in the country. Those who spoke with 23ABC say they all have a lot in common.
"When we join the service they give us all these tools for our toolbox," Marine Corps. Veteran Melvin Lee said.
Lee said after serving any serviceman is more aware of their surroundings.
"Before it wasn't that bad, I'd look at it, at people every now and then in a crowd, but you really just learn to take everything in look at everything, start analyzing people," Army Veteran Jeremy Bethell said.
Marine Corps. Veteran Hulio Torres described them as having a head on a swivel.
"We're kind of watching hand movements you know gestures, we look for an odd situation and are on the alert," Lee said.
This awareness isn't something they can turn on and off-- once a serviceman, always a serviceman, they say. But they don't mind it.
"It's not as taxing, it doesn't take much energy it just happens, you just do it," Bethell said.
So when it comes to taking action-- there's no question.
"It would be very hard for any of us to stand idly by and not do anything seeing something like that happen," Bethell said.
Saying they're proud of their brothers over the past few months who have put their life on the line.
"Chris Mintz, tremendous job, my hat's off to you brother, thank you for that... He's going to be in America's heart for years to come so he's the ultimate warrior," Torres said.
"They show exactly what the veteran's community is all about, we're still here to protect foreign and domestic," Torres said.