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The Army Asked ‘How Has Serving Impacted You?’ And Veterans’ Raw Replies Are Like A Punch In The Gut

The U.S. Army last week asked soldiers and veterans on Twitter to share how serving affected their lives—and it seems like the biggest PR disaster they could’ve envisioned, as thousands told tales full of grief, death, pain, and affliction.

Service members, military veterans, and their friends and family gave over 11,000 responses to a tweet from the official U.S. Army account asking, “How has serving impacted you?”

The tweet was a followup to a Twitter video and thread honoring Pfc. Nathan Spencer, who described how being in the Army gave him an opportunity to “serve something greater” than himself.

However, when the army asked the public the same question, their replies were anything but positive. Many recounted experiences with physical and mental disorders including PTSD and severe anxiety, sexual assault, suicide, drug addiction, and other debilitating effects of military service.

(TRIGGER WARNING)

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According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD is a common affliction in veterans. Around 11-20% of soldiers who served in the Iraq War or the war in Afghanistan have PTSD, reports the VA, and at least 30% of Vietnam War veterans have PTSD.

The department has also found that of the 20 million veterans in the United States, fewer than half actually receive benefits from the VA. Furthermore, suicide rates among veterans have been on the rise across the nation.

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While the raw, devastating reactions were certainly not what the Army had in mind, they followed up their initial inquiry with a message of support:

“Your stories are real, they matter, and they may help others in similar situations,” read the tweets. “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 are a veteran in need of help, call the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255.