It was meant to be part of a social media tribute on Memorial Day weekend. On Saturday, the Army posted a video on Twitter featuring a scout in fatigues who said his service gave him the opportunity to fight for something greater than himself, making him a better man. In its next tweet, the Army asked: “How has serving impacted you?”
The post received thousands of responses. But many were probably not what the Army was looking for.
Instead, the call-out provided what some felt was a rare platform to spotlight the darker consequences of military service, as tweet after tweet described lifelong health complications, grief over loved ones lost, sexual assaults gone unpunished, and struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
“The public just doesn’t hear about it,” said Brandon Neely, 38, a former Army specialist who posted about his PTSD. “They don’t hear about the guys, these veterans, that don’t sleep, have night sweats, are irritated. Some guys get really bad anxiety, depression.”
The Army didn’t respond to a request for comment. But in a series of follow-up tweets, it thanked people for sharing their stories.
“Your stories are real, they matter, and they may help others in similar situations,” the Army said. “The Army is committed to the health, safety and well-being of our Soldiers. 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.”
The response disheartened Briley Kazy, 19. “They were like, this is very important to us, made it seem like they are doing as much as they can,” she said. “But they’re not.”
Neely said the federal government does not do enough to take care of soldiers who return from their service. “Hopefully, these politicians can do something to fix the system that’s broken,” he said.