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Army Gets Heartbreaking Answers After Asking, "How Has Serving Impacted You?"
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=24110"><span class="small">Daniel Politi, Slate</span></a>   
Tuesday, 28 May 2019 12:47

Politi writes: "In the middle of people expressing pride in their service, many others posted of a much darker reality to military life, including tales of post-traumatic stress disorder, other health problems, and sexual assaults, to name a few."

Veterans parade. (photo: AP)
Veterans parade. (photo: AP)

Army Gets Heartbreaking Answers After Asking, "How Has Serving Impacted You?"

By Daniel Politi, Slate

28 May 19


ust before Memorial Day weekend, the Army posted a question to its Twitter followers, “How has serving impacted you?” The tweet was part of a thread honoring servicemembers and included a video of Pfc. Nathan Spencer, a scout with the Army’s First Infantry Division. “To serve something greater than myself,” Spencer says in the video. “The Army’s afforded me the opportunity to do just that, to give to others, to protect the ones I love, and to better myself as a man and a warrior.” The Army likely was hoping for messages in that vein, and it got them. But in the middle of people expressing pride in their service, many others posted of a much darker reality to military life, including tales of post-traumatic stress disorder, other health problems, and sexual assaults, to name a few.

“I am a Navy vet, I was a happy person before I served, now I am broke apart, cant even work a full 30 days due to anxiety and depression,” Jeffrey Scott wrote. “I am in constant pain everyday. And I think about killing myself daily.”

Another answered the Army’s question by referring to the “Combat Cocktail,” which includes “PTSD, severe depression, anxiety. Isolation. Suicide attempts. Never ending rage.” Serving “cost me my relationship with my eldest son and my grandson,” he added.

One Twitter user identifying herself as Karen replied to the Army’s tweet by saying she lost her virginity “by being raped in front of my peers at 19” and then got married to “a nice guy who was part of my unit.” But following the invasion of Iraq, he “came home a changed man who beat the shit out of me.”

Karen was one of many women to detail instances of harassment and abuse while in the military. Another woman wrote that she was “assaulted by one of my superiors.” She reported him but “nothing happened to him. Nothing. A year later, he stole a laptop and was then demoted. I’m worth less than a laptop.” Another woman wrote that she suffered from “PTSD, depression, anxiety, nightmares” due to “sexual harassment during my service that nobody was ever held accountable for.”

Some wrote about how they saw their loved ones deteriorate after serving. One mother said she was “proud” when her son signed up to serve. “That young man with his whole life in front of him is now broken mentally and emotionally beyond recognition and the Army isn’t helpful,” she wrote. Another person wrote on behalf of her friend: “My sweet friend David can’t answer you. He committed suicide a few years ago after a couple tours of Afghanistan.” Nathan wrote about how he found his mother “in the closet after her tour in Aghanistan with a knife” and how firework sounds still scare her. “It’s impacted me because my mom won’t ever be the same mentally,” he wrote. “So thanks for that.”

Although many characterized the replies to the tweet as a social media fail for the Army, others disagreed. “Some say this thread back-fired but this is just the thread that is needed each memorial day so we remember the sacrifices military members and their families make and how we as a country need to understand the true cost of service and improve our support,” Mike Schmidt wrote.

The Army thanked all those who contributed their story to the thread. “As we honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice this weekend by remembering their service, we are also mindful of the fact that we have to take care of those who came back home with scars we can’t see,” the Army wrote.

To everyone who responded to this thread, thank you for sharing your story. Your stories are real, they matter, and they may help others in similar situations. The Army is committed to the health, safety, and well-being of our Soldiers.

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+26 # Moxa 2019-05-28 18:22
All of these people did indeed sacrifice--thei r health, their sanity, and in some cases their lives. But though it may seem rude or even cruel to say so, the question that arises is what was the sacrifice FOR?

No one, especially grieving family members, wants to think that their loved one died for spurious reasons. But the problem requires holding on to two very different thoughts at the same time. I have no doubt that many people (not all) go into the military to serve their country, and even to do good in the world. That is their goal; and it is their belief that that is what they are doing. But the reality is that most wars are based on lies and propaganda. They are fought in the name of democracy but in fact for oil, war profiteering and power. The people who instigate these fraudulent enterprises don't give a fig about the people who are being killed or injured--physic ally or mentally.

There is nothing contradictory about having high ideals and being duped at the same time. We don't like to discuss it this way because we feel we owe something to the people who put themselves in harm's way. But while it seems ungenteel to say their sacrifice was in vain, it is frequently true. We can grieve the loss of men and women whose ideals were high. The sorrow of it is even more poignant because it was so unnecessary. Rather than thanking people for their service, it may be more appropriate in some cases to say, I'm so sorry for your loss and for your betrayal.
+7 # Glen 2019-05-29 06:08
Thank you Moxa. It is difficult to express the frustration and anger due to war and more war and the damage it has been doing to human beings everywhere. You said it nicely.
+4 # 2019-05-29 07:04
I am waiting for the day when parents and loved ones have a million person march in DC to tell our so called leaders what they feel about how they feel ab their sons and daughters and loved ones being lied tor in “service to our country”.
+4 # ddd-rrr 2019-05-29 07:31
Thank You, #Moxa, for writing this true and important comment!
+4 # chrisconno 2019-05-29 09:55
Those with the power to use and abuse our troops have done just that, abuse. While we pay exorbitantly the contract militaries to do all the jobs we used to train our soldiers to do while our soldiers are the ones in harms way to protect the business of oil and contract military. I hate seeing our homeless veterans. They are the victims of our train wreck of a corporate democracy. We should be going to war for the all the reason we have been going to war since Korea. Money.
+2 # DongiC 2019-05-29 22:37
War is so terrible. It inflicts such a severe price for all those connected to it, soldiers as well as civilians. It should really be banned forever. Why can't an international organization like the UN be used to settle disputes among its various members? Why can't the causes of war be researched so humankind can finally eliminate this curse forever? Why can't we turn our weapons into ploughshares even thought munitions makers would scream "bloody murder."