Today, the United States Army sent out a simple tweet asking “How has serving impacted you?”.
How has serving impacted you?— U.S. Army (@USArmy) May 23, 2019
It wasn’t meant to be self-congratulatory, if anything it was a call for honest engagement. Unfortunately, it opened up what became a social media nightmare right before the Memorial Day weekend.
Negative comments poured in regarding everything from suicide and PTSD, to stories from family members regarding their struggle for benefits after losing their loved ones in conflict.
These weren’t just recent cases either. Veterans that left the military years ago recalled their difficulties dealing with the VA on cases regarding Agent Orange and chronic pain conditions that have turned them to pills and alcohol.
It was one of the saddest social media threads I’ve ever read.
To be fair, many of these problems fall on the Department of Veterans Affairs, who has taken action to improve case turnover and the level of care given at their facilities, unfortunately there is still much work to do.
I suppose I should answer their question if I’m going to write about it. “How has serving impacted me?”
It was the greatest honor of my life. I was an 18 year old kid from Apopka when I enlisted and got to see the world. I served almost eight years with some of the best friends I’ve known before recieving an honorable discharge and coming home. I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
Unfortunately, the Army left me poorly prepared for life afterwards. Awful transition services, challenges securing health benefits and GI Bill payments, along small business aid that does little to aid a veteran that’s starting a small business.
That poor treatment is what got me writing letters and then blogging, which ultimately lead to working in media and communications. This is where I’m at now.
I suppose the verdict is still out.
But what I know is that there is still much work to do and I hope maybe when the Army asks this question again in a couple of years, there will be stories with much more happier endings.