Just before Memorial Day weekend, the army told a question to its Twitter followers, " How has dining influenced you? " Tweeten was part of a thread honoring service members and included a video by Pfc. Nathan Spencer a scout with the army's first infantry division. "To make something bigger than myself," Spencer says in the video. "The army gave me the opportunity to do just that to allow others to protect those I love and to improve myself as a man and a warrior." The army probably hoped for messages in that friend and it got them. But in the middle of people who express pride in their service, many others have written about a much darker reality for military life, including stories of post-traumatic stress disorder, other health problems, and sexual assaults just to name a few.
"I am a marine father, I was a happy person before I earned, now I have been broken down, can not even work full 30 days because of anxiety and depression, " Jeffrey Scott wrote . "I have constant pain every day. And I'm thinking of killing myself daily."
Another answered the army question by referring to " Combat Cocktail "which includes" PTSD, severe depression, anxiety. Isolation. Suicide attempt. Never ending anger. "Serving" cost me my relationship with my eldest son and my grandson, "he added.
A Twitter user who identified herself as Karen responded to the army tweet by saying she lost her virginity " by being raped in front of my peers of 19 "and then married" a nice guy who was part of my unit. "But after the invasion of Iraq he came home to a changed man who knocked the shit out of me . "
Karen was one of many women to get details of cases of harassment and abuse 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, a laptop stole and was then demoted. I'm worth less than a laptop." Another woman wrote that she was suffering from " PTSD, depression, anxiety, nightmare "because of" sexual harassment during my service that no one was ever responsible for. "
Some wrote about how they saw their loved ones deteriorate after serving. One mother said she was "proud" when her son volunteered to serve. "The young man with all his life in front of him is now broken mentally and emotionally beyond recognition, and the army is not helpful" she wrote . Another person wrote on behalf of his friend : "My sweet friend David can't answer you. He committed suicide some years ago after a few trips in Afghanistan." Nathan wrote about how he found his mother " in the closet after her trip in Afghanistan with a knife "and how fireworks sound still scare her. "It has affected me because my mother will never be the same mentally," he wrote . "So thank you for that."
Although many characterized the responses to the tweet as a social media that failed for the army, others disagreed. "Some say this thread is fired, but it's just the thread that is needed every day of the day so we remember the victims military members and their families do and how we as a country must 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 aware that we must take care of those who came home with scars we cannot see," the army wrote .
] Help us continue to cover the news and issue important to you – and
get ad-free podcasts and bonus segments
members' only content and other great benefits.
Join the Slate Plus