Memorial Day weekend is meant to be a time of reflection to honor the Americans who have served, so two days before the weekend the U.S. Army reached out to veterans via Twitter to ask them to share how their service had impacted their lives – and it’s easy to say it backfired.
The innocent tweet was intended to stir up stories of patriotic pride, and while some did share positive experiences about how their time gave them self-confidence, an overwhelming amount shared dark and heartbreaking tales. The stories came from both veterans themselves and people who had met or were the family of service men and women. Tales ranged from vets who had returned with debilitating posttraumatic stress disorder, to those who had ended up committing suicide.
According to reports from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, about 30% of Vietnam veterans, 12% of Gulf War veterans and 11% to 20% of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom veterans are living with post-traumatic stress disorder. As for suicide rates the numbers are disproportionately affecting vets, with more than 6,000 veterans dying by suicide between 2008 to 2016 and an average of 20 veterans dying by suicide each day between 2013 and 2014.