A viral Army tweet paints a harrowing picture of the sacrifices made in military service

popular

Coast Guard recruits and personnel hold a Memorial Day ceremony. Photo: Petty Officer 2nd Class Richard Brahm/U.S. Coast Guard.

On the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, the U.S. Army tweeted a video of Pfc. Nathan Spencer with the 1st Infantry Division, who said the Army has given him the opportunity to "give to others, to protect the ones I love, and to better myself as a man and a warrior."

Then the Army tweeted a simple, open-ended question: "How has serving impacted you?"

The responses took on a life of their own.


More than 11,000 stories poured in — many of PTSD, anxiety, depression, sexual assault and harassment, loss, and more.

"I spend sleepless nights wracked with guilt because none of the horror and suffering I've seen even matters," one tweet reads.

"Sexual harassment every day. Experiencing sexual assault. ... A fear that never leaves me," reads another.

"My Grandfather was a Marine who served in Vietnam as a foot soldier. What he saw broke him."

"Even on my bad days I remain proud of my service — but I worry a lot about how casually we seem to commit to war, and how easily we ignore the effects."

Reports released this year by the military don't show a much more optimistic picture. In 2018, active duty Army suicides reached a five-year high; suicide among active-duty Marines reached an almost 10-year high; active-duty Navy suicides hit a record high. Sexual assault in the military also reached a four-year high in 2018.

One Twitter user replied that the Army's tweet was "a giant fail." No, it may not have gone as planned, but it did exactly what it needed to do — it prompted a brutally honest conversation about our shortfalls in taking care of veterans and active-duty service members.

"To everyone who responded to this thread, thank you for sharing your story," the Army said in response on Saturday afternoon. "Your stories are real, they matter, and they may help others in similar situations. ... 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."

If you're thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) to reach a trained counselor. Use that same number and press "1" to reach the Veterans Crisis Line.

SEE NEXT: The Pentagon's fight against suicide could be making things worse

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Two military bases in Florida and one in Arizona will see heat indexes over 100 degrees four months out of every year if steps aren't taken to reduce carbon emissions, a new study warns.

Read More Show Less

This Veterans Day, two post-9/11 veterans-turned congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation to have a memorial commemorating the Global War on Terrorism built on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Read More Show Less

Between 500 and 600 U.S. troops are expected to remain in Syria when all is said and done, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley said on Sunday.

Milley's comments on ABC News' "This Week" indicate the U.S. military's footprint in Syria will end up being roughly half the size it was before Turkey invaded Kurdish-held northeast Syria last month.

Read More Show Less
Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during a fund-raising fish fry for U.S. Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Iowa), Saturday, Nov. 2, 2019, at Hawkeye Downs Expo Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Associated Press/Charlie Neibergall)

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — On Veterans Day, Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg is proposing a "veteran-centric" Department of Veterans Affairs that will honor the service of the men and women of the military who represent "the best of who we are and what we can be."

Buttigieg, who served as a Navy intelligence officer in Afghanistan, said service members are united by a "shared commitment to support and defend the United States" and in doing so they set an example "for us and the world, about the potential of the American experiment."

Read More Show Less
Democratic 2020 U.S. presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders speaks during a Climate Crisis Summit with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (not pictured) at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, U.S. November 9, 2019. (Reuters/Scott Morgan)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders promised on Monday to boost healthcare services for military veterans if he is elected, putting a priority on upgrading facilities and hiring more doctors and nurses for the Department of Veterans Affairs.

To mark Monday's Veterans Day holiday honoring those who served in the military, Sanders vowed to fill nearly 50,000 slots for doctors, nurses and other medical professionals at facilities run by Veterans Affairs during his first year in office.

Sanders also called for at least $62 billion in new funding to repair, modernize and rebuild hospitals and clinics to meet what he called the "moral obligation" of providing quality care for those who served in the military.

Read More Show Less