Days ahead of an annual holiday when Americans remember those who died while serving in the armed forces, the US Army’s Twitter account asked people how their time in the military affected them and received an outpouring of grief.
How has serving impacted you?
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) May 23, 2019
The question drew some 10,000 replies since it was posted late last week – many of which were anonymous or included details that could not be independently confirmed, but which paint a harrowing picture of the toll America’s wars have taken on those who fought them.
“OEF, OIF PTSD with chronic pain,” one Twitter user wrote, using the US military’s acronyms for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the abbreviation for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Wars that cost US much
The US launched the war in Afghanistan in 2001 and the Iraq war in 2003. The conflicts left thousands of American service members dead and many more wounded. US troops are still deployed in both countries to this day.
“My dad came back from fighting in Iraq and was abusive, constantly angry, paranoid, and following that went through a lot of therapy but his mental and physical health is still off and he was definitely changed through all he had been through,” another user wrote.
Read more: US cannot win the war in Afghanistan
“My son served and did one tour of OEF, he made it back, re-enlisted, and shot himself in the head,” said another.
“Depression, anxiety, still can’t deal well with loud noises. I was assaulted by one of my superiors. When I reported him, with witnesses to corroborate my story, nothing happened to him. Nothing. A year later, he stole a laptop and was then demoted. I’m worth less than a laptop.,” another Twitter user wrote.
Depression, anxiety, still can’t deal well with loud noises. I was assaulted by one of my superiors. When I reported him, with witnesses to corroborate my story, nothing happened to him. Nothing. A year later, he stole a laptop and was then demoted. I’m worth less than a laptop.
— schmox (@IvoryGazelle) May 25, 2019
“How did serving impact me? Ask my family.”
Not all the replies were about the toll taken by combat.
“I was forced to resign my commission while serving in Kuwait during the first Gulf War because I am gay. I received an ‘other than honorable’ discharge despite excellent performance reviews,” one wrote.
Heard about the project on @openargs I am a West Point graduate Class of 1987, was given an other than honorable discharge for being gay while serving in the Persian Gulf War my previously interview for a book is captured https://t.co/jtbF6EQFtn pic.twitter.com/r7glQdxBDs
— Mark Landes (@usmagrad87) May 24, 2019
An other than honorable discharge is the most severe military administrative dismissal. It can follow a former soldier well into civilian life, leaving them ineligible for benefits and making it difficult to find work.
The Army thanked those who replied to its official account, saying: “Your stories are real, they matter, and they may help others in similar situations.”
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.
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) May 25, 2019
“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.”
US Army twitter, after receiving so many stories by so many people who had suffered at the hands of war shared a video to support them in the time of their pain and suffering.
As we approach #MemorialDay, we remember those who died while defending our great nation. We also honor the sacrifices of their families who bore the grief and sorrow of loss.
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) May 26, 2019
AFP article with additional input by GVS news desk