As an anarchist, do I thank the troops for protecting my freedom? No. Do I thank them for defending freedom? No.
But I do thank them. Not for serving, but for taking my spot. I support the troops in my own way (usually by voting for people who promise not to send them to war), and I bristle at the thought of disparaging soldiers the way I do police. But should there be a difference?
I despise cops because they routinely shatter the law and get away with it. But I don't despise combat soldiers (drone operators can suck a fart out of my ass, fuck you, war isn't a goddam game, and fuck your double-tap-kill-first-responders bull shit, you should be held for war crimes) who also routinely break the law and get it covered up. Why is that? Left over jingoism from my neoconservative days?
No, it's because for the most part, these are kids. Kids who've been lied to from day fucking one, brainwashed and manipulated into thinking that America stands for freedom. Let's kill that notion right now, unless Deming, New Mexico seems like your idea of "freedom." These are kids who are duped into literally signing their freedoms away to become a slave to the government; they own you, they decide if you live or die, you are replaceable.
Maybe instead of "thanking" and "supporting" our troops, we should set some time aside to say, "I'm sorry."
Maybe one day, when the troops are saying their oath to protect this nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic, they'll actually mean it, and then we can thank them for our freedoms.