Twitter has long enjoyed a reputation as the preferred social media platform among navel-gazing journalists, Russian bots, and crybaby politicians. But it's also a perfect medium for veterans to get together and do what comes naturally: waste time, troll each other, swap scuttlebutt and gouge, and generally gripe about whatever ya got to gripe about.
This Veterans Day, we thought we'd share the vets on Twitter who are must-follows — on sports, on news, on partisan sniping, and even (very occasionally) on military affairs. It's not exclusive, it's not exhaustive, and it's not in any particular order; it's also media-heavy because, well, hey, we're a media organization.
A list like this always misses a lot of good follows, and we encourage you to make your own nominations in the comments for your fellow readers.
In the meantime, if you don't know these folks, get to know them. They're (mostly) friendly!
Funny veterans on Twitter
If Weird Twitter and Vet Twitter had a baby, and she joined the Marines and went to Afghanistan, she'd be almost as funny as Kate, Duffel Blog's self-identified "fart jokes" contributor, who also did that jarhead deployment thing.
"Putting the pun in pundit," as she says, this Duffel Blog contributor is followed by VA undersecretaries and terminal lances alike. If you peek into her TL, you can see why.
Uriarte, the brains behind Terminal Lance, takes on all comers on Twitter, befitting a Marine with the extra swagger that accompanies lighter, blood-stripe-free trousers. Come for the comics, stay for the passionate defenses of chocolate peanut butter and dogs.
Who is the Warax, besides a Dr. Seussian sockpuppet account that tweets sardonic left politics and mil stuff? Nobody knows, but he/she/it purports "to speak for all veterans." Which is a refreshing thing you don't hear from most veterans who actually try to speak for all veterans.
Duffel Blog founder, former Business Insider defense editor, launcher of 1,000 podcasts, sites, and ventures: This guy has too much energy, even for a Hollywood Marine. But if Uncle Sam's Misguided Content producers have a commandant, Szoldra is it.
Yeah, I know: You were already following them. Keep up the good work.
Sure, he's a friend of our site, which is why we overlook his Ohio State tweets. But his "drunj" military history threads, Star Wars strategy lessons, and general mix of booze tweets and reflective-belt memories make him a must-follow.
"Bluto" is in the Army, writes for Total Frat Move, and went to college in the small-school mid-Atlantic scene. That's about all I know about him, apart from the fact that he's funny as hell. Follow and judge for yourself.
Veterans in "Media Twitter"
I went years as a fan of Ryssdal on NPR's Marketplace without ever realizing he'd done nearly a decade as a naval officer. About the only issue with his Twitter is it's not as fun as listening to him on-air.
The New York Times has always had good conflict reporters, but Chivers — now on the Times magazine staff — combines the world-weariness of a former grunt officer and the doggedness of a local cops-and-courts with a flair for the literary and an eye for the absurd.
You will not find a nicer guy IRL or on Twitter, nor a guy more knowledgeable about ordnance and explosives — probably to be expected out of a former Navy EOD and Amnesty International crisis adviser. Ismay's now working with Chivers at the Times' magazine; expect lots of riveting stories literally pieced together from downrange munitions.
TM, as he's known, cut his teeth as a military affairs reporter at the Washington Post, and is now a part of the New York Times' veteran superteam. But his experience as an enlisted grunt with the 1/6 Marines probably helped him hone his sharp Twitter BS detector and excellent taste in sleeve tattoos.
Now a Washington Post reporter after stints at the VA and Stars & Stripes, Horton was one of the original infantry milbloggers a decade ago, whose "Army of Dude" blog was jam-packed with photos, poignancy, and good wry Texas humor. The blog is defunct, but the spirit lives on in the Twittersphere.
Chad is a former Marine. Chad reports for Stars & Stripes. Chad is frigging hilarious, insanely generous toward vets on Twitter, and incredibly organized, as his superior lists of Twitter vets and his very superior beard demonstrate. For downrange anecdotes, vital news, and facial-follicle updates, you must follow him.
I know, I'm pretty naval-service heavy here, but Larter — a Navy vet who's as comfortable discussing DDG collisions underway as he is parsing Pacific and Mideast political developments — is also a Phillies fan, like me, so he's in tune with his anger and sorrow.
A former Marine who's broken huge stories on some of the Corps' biggest issues in recent years, LaPorta is a great tweeter, if not the best dad, as his tweet above shows.
Bishop is a former Marine grunt who traded his rifle for a camera and has been documenting America's forever wars ever since — first at the Times, and now for NBC News. Nobody does sarcasm or spotlights our forgotten deployments better.
Carl is one of the best reporters around on any beat, and a vet of the Marine Corps and Army, and a self-deprecating tweeter with an unquenchable thirst for truth and precision. As the war in Iraq ramped up, he actually left his investigative journalism job to join the National Guard, deploying to the Sunni Triangle. The San Diego Union-Times is lucky to have him, and we're lucky to have his tweets.
Mike, a 3rd Cav and Desert Storm vet, launched the Houston Chronicle's Observation Post blog and tweets a terrific smattering of mil news, weird news, news news, and anything else going on that day in Katy, Texas. Miss his TL at your own peril.
Kesling was a proud East Coast Marine officer with a tour in Fallujah before becoming a military reporter extraordinaire for the Wall Street Journal. He's a two-day Jeopardy champion, which is even more impressive for a Marine. But no surprise when you check out his feed.
A contributing editor at SOFREP and a Green Beret vet, Derek is a rare bird: an operator working in media who's not taking himself too seriously. He's also all over the place politically and funny as hell. What more do you need out of your feed?
Vets in Sports Twitter
Do I really need to introduce this guy? No, I don't. He will make you laugh. He will piss you off. He'll even talk about MMA once in a while. He's the dude.
Okay, you've probably seen the ESPN Mag cover. But if you're not Twitter-following Ennis, a Marine veteran and amputee who can kick your ass in the great outdoors, you're missing out on major motivation. “It’s the six inches between your ears and what’s behind your ribcage that really makes the difference,” she tells ESPN. Fuckin' ay.
It feels criminal to put Riggle — actor, comedian, professional NFL win-picker, retired Marine Reserve lieutenant colonel — in the "sports Twitter box," given what a Renaissance man he is. Did they have court jesters in the Renaissance? Did they have any who could bust out a dozen pull-ups while making you pee your pants laughing? I don't know. Follow Rob Riggle.
Boyer did six years as a Green Beret before walking on to the Texas Longhorns football team and signing an NFL contract as a long-snapper. But he may be best known for his attempts to mediate between protesting quarterback Colin Kaepernick and vets who think Kap's protests are anti-American.
How are you not already following this guy? Iraq Marine, host of SB Nation's Uffsides, and all-around hilarious sonofabitch, Ufford also has excellent taste in Halloween costumes.
When's the last time a Naval Academy pitcher made it to the majors? Before Mitch Harris, it was 1921. But the reserve officer and former Cardinals righty changed that in 2015. If you need daily motivation, Harris will provide.
"Chaps is a troll," one profile of the Barstool podcaster says. "He has no qualms with this title." He's also a medically retired Marine handler for bomb-sniffing dogs who was shot in Iraq and enjoys trolling as therapy. Follow him and ask him about Cecil the Lion sometime.
Vets doing (mostly) serious tweeting
Lowe, who enlisted in 2002, has had multiple deployments with the National Guard in a variety of jobs. These days, she curates militaria at the Smithsonian — and tweets terrific history and military motivation.
If you're not following McGrath, you're not as well-educated on naval affairs and serious conservative politics as you should be. Period.
Former Navy SEAL and four-star admiral, now the chancellor of the University of Texas system, McRaven plays it straight on Twitter, but his down-home values — public service, public education, public compassion — still come through loud and clear.
If Marcus Aurelius had been chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and got a Twitter account in his retirement, he'd be Martin Dempsey. While most vets on social media are braggy, loud and standoffish, Dempsey goes another way. If you feel a little ashamed at your assclownery after checking his TL, it's working.
An Arabic linguist who made a splash with Love My Gun More Than You, a gritty memoir of war in Iraq and a woman’s experiences in uniform. As the VA’s top advisor on issues affecting women, her feed is a steady stream of motivation, real talk, and thoughtful story links.
A former Army infantry officer and National Security Council staffer from East Tennessee whose Arabic ain't bad, whose blogging is top-notch, and whose longtime avi is a Lego jihadi? Come for the geopolitical analysis; stay for the bourbon recommendations.
Having left the Army for law and think-tanking, Carter writes on civil-military affairs at Slate and is a veritable one-man mil-news machine on Twitter. His analyses come from a liberal perspective, but are always rigorously argued and good-humored.
Veterans of left-wing Twitter
Just when you think you've got Bethea pegged, you don't. A vet of Bowe Bergdahl's battalion who was one of the first to call the Taliban prisoner a deserter, Bethea has been a humorous, hard-as-a-mother voice of left politics. Like, socialism left. Ooh, scary! And profane. And, very often, not wrong.
Another friend of the site, Francis Horton — aka "Army Strang" — has deployed to Afghanistan, Iraq, and 10 other countries as a public affairs soldier. When not writing us fabulously hilarious explainers and hosting podcasts with Bethea and fellow Army vet Adrian Bonenberger, he's killing us softly with those tweets.
Germano's 20-year career as a Marine officer wound down in controversy when she was relieved of her command at MCRD Parris Island — which she maintains to this day was retribution for her speaking out against sexual harassment, low expectations, and double standards directed at women in the Corps. Today, she's still on the offensive for gender equality in the service — and tweeting it early and often.
Veterans of right-wing Twitter
In addition to being a seasoned operator and author, Parnell stumps tirelessly for POTUS 45 and vets' charities. He tweets red meat for sure — including a lot of his Fox News hits — but does it in a far more civil, congenial way than some of his counterparts. This probably means he'll run for office soon.
He blocked me on Twitter, even before I wrote this. I still try check in from time to time, because where else can you see a reserve naval intelligence officer being so wrong so often? It's a lot harder now, since he protected his tweets Nov. 10, after being reported by multiple users for doxxing a woman who accused Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of sexually molesting her when she was 14.
O'Neill was in DEVGRU. He shot Bin Laden in the face, according to him. His Twitter is dedicated to reminding people of this, and of the fact that it makes his opinions correct. He's right sometimes, and he's entertaining most of the time.
T&P; veterans on Twitter
Um, yeah, did you think we were going to skip this opportunity for shameless self-promo? Come on.
James, a former Marine combat correspondent, is our resident expert on howitzers, eight-point covers, and first-person shooters. Hey James: Tweet more!
Adam's gone deep on military recruiting, vets at Standing Rock, and this guy who ran a full marathon with his ding dong out. Have you heard his podcast? You should hear his podcast.
He makes really good videos, we swear. Just maybe not when he's recording calls to "real" women on Periscope.
Has former Marine, Ranger Up vet, and Strike Force Energy spokesman Jack Mandaville made you soil yourself as you laugh-sobbed uncontrollably at his I'm A Dirtbag, Maybe The Biggest Dirtbag Ever shtick? No? Watch moar Jack Mandaville videos. I love this beautiful, absurd hunk of childless dadbod.
A veteran of the 75th Ranger Regiment and the author of two damn good books, Marty is an operator-whisperer: He gets shadow warriors to talk. Is it because he understands them, or because he's a great journalist? Both, we think. Which is why we sent him to Afghanistan to report for us.
There are so many people we wanted to include! Got more suggestions for veterans to follow on social media? Drop 'em in the comments for all to see.