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Old 30th May 2019, 05:10 PM   #1
Checkmite
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US Army PR tweet doesn't quite get the intended result

Last week, the US Army's official Twitter account posted a short video of a young soldier in training (or perhaps recently out of it), explaining that Army life has made him a "better man and warrior". The account then followed up with a tweet asking the public, simply,

Quote:
How has serving impacted you?
What follows is perhaps one of the saddest and most depressing Twitter "threads" I've ever read, as for days literally hundreds of former servicemen and women of varying ages, along with children and family members of veterans, have told stories of injuries, illnesses, alcoholism, domestic violence, rapes, debilitating PTSD, suicides, and a common thread of refusal of help by military and veteran's services. Tales of formerly bright and vibrant young people returning from deployments and rarely leaving their rooms, veterans having to do their grocery shopping at night because they cannot handle crowds, and broken, perpetually-drunk fathers who survived Vietnam and made their children swear while young that they would never join the military, abound.

Needless to say, most definitely not the kinds of comments the tweet was fishing for; and they throw into sharp relief how poorly at least this country looks after the people it asks so much of.
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Old 30th May 2019, 09:45 PM   #2
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I did 20 years in our military, and during that time, I came into direct contact USAF, US Navy and US Marine Corps servicemen and veterans. I made a lot of friends.. some temporary, some not. I am still in contact with some of them to this day, more than 30 years later.

Now, I'm sorry, but what I am about to say might offend some people, and might come off a bit preachy, but your country, the USA, treats its war veterans like garbage. They appear to have a status of little more value than a disposable commodity; when they have been used up, they are thrown away and forgotten about. Your prisoners are treated better than your veterans.

I think this probably started (or at least became a lot worse) after the Vietnam War... a war that the American people grew to be ashamed of and wanted to forget, so they treated the returning servicemen accordingly. The responsibility for this is bipartisan too... both the Dems and the GOP are equally to blame for the current situation.
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Old 30th May 2019, 11:25 PM   #3
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I think the starkest difference is between the way in which politicians appear to treat veterans, feigning concern, giving respect, promising all kinds of things and the way in which veterans are actually treated. I think the latter would be less egregious (though no less unacceptable) if the former weren't so pronounced.
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Old 30th May 2019, 11:48 PM   #4
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Could be totally wrong, but I have always had a feeling it is down to sheer numbers in the US these days.

Never seen a western country with so many people having connections with people who have been connected to the military.

Kind of a individual issues kind of get lost in amongst the masses, kind of thing.

When they first come back from being deployed they get attention and lots of solemn "thank you for your service" (which being from NZ I have always kind of cringed a bit seeing. It is a me issue. And see why the US does it, just not something we do) every time they shake hands with someone.

Then she is bye bye, you'll be right...Oh look more back. Lets have a party again.

"What is happening with the last lot? Pretty sure they are fine. Have you meet Major "####"? Just got back. Thank you for your service son."

As I say.

Could be talking pants though
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Old 30th May 2019, 11:57 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by cullennz View Post
Could be totally wrong, but I have always had a feeling it is down to sheer numbers in the US these days.

It's about money.

Looking after veterans costs money. That means more taxes.

It's very nearly always about money.
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Old 31st May 2019, 12:01 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
It's about money.

Looking after veterans costs money. That means more taxes.

It's very nearly always about money.
Maybe. But I doubt very much all of the actual senior grunts who have actually "been there" care more about cost than fellow vets...........Well you would hope

Politicians obviously do though
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Old 31st May 2019, 01:10 AM   #7
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I have to say that in what is ostensibly "peacetime" I'm, like cullennz, surprised by the amount of current and ex-servicemen there seems to be from the US, even this forum has a high number of vets, it seems. Perhaps it is as a result of policing the world?

Also, like cullennz, I find the whole "thank you for your service" thing no more than a platitude that serves the issuer far more than it serves the receiver.

Without wishing to sound callous I do wonder exactly what a potential recruit expects from his/her time in the military? It is a well known fact that one will be heavily institutionalised and expected to fight in the harshest of circumstances with a seemingly non-existent support network in place both during and after service and that being the case, what is the motivation? Any US vets on here willing to give us their take on why they signed up voluntarily.

It reads awfully like I'm saying that they deserve what they get if they go in with their eyes open and, if they go in with blinkers on, then.... they deserve what they get and it's difficult to make a case that that is not what I mean. I'm an outsider and I'm confused, I supposed.

It's looks like, that from Vietnam era onward, support has not been what it should have been but I wonder what those involved in that side of the military might say?

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Old 31st May 2019, 07:42 AM   #8
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I'm surprised at the number of people here who perceive an increase in the number of veterans. The total is actually trending downward. Between the dramatic shrinkage in the size of the military, the shift to an all volunteer force (which sees far more military people serving twenty or more years), and the passing of most of the WW-II veterans, the number of living veterans has decreased substantially.

Our last big war was fifty years ago now, with a peak establishment of over 3.5 million. Current force is just over a million.

It's possible that the perception of increased numbers is caused by a willingness of veterans to self identify. When I joined (1973) the social climate was much less tolerant of military folk. Now there is a good deal more respect shown for those who have served.
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Old 31st May 2019, 08:07 AM   #9
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I suspect the UK has little reason to think its veterans fare any better; there are just fewer of them. I'm sure there was a thread here (though I can't remember the topic, sorry) where a statistic emerged suggesting roughly one in six men were ex-military in the US vs about one in twelve in the UK.
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Old 31st May 2019, 08:33 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Pope130 View Post
I'm surprised at the number of people here who perceive an increase in the number of veterans. The total is actually trending downward. Between the dramatic shrinkage in the size of the military, the shift to an all volunteer force (which sees far more military people serving twenty or more years), and the passing of most of the WW-II veterans, the number of living veterans has decreased substantially.

Our last big war was fifty years ago now, with a peak establishment of over 3.5 million. Current force is just over a million.

It's possible that the perception of increased numbers is caused by a willingness of veterans to self identify. When I joined (1973) the social climate was much less tolerant of military folk. Now there is a good deal more respect shown for those who have served.
I believe so. We've had Swiss members who don't post that they are veterans, yet every male above a certain age has to serve. Here in Thailand, in Korea, in many countries there is a universal conscription and while getting out of service is a national sport among the well-to-do, the vast majority of males serve. It may be because of that that you don't hear them talking about. It's no claim to exceptionalism if everybody serves.
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Old 31st May 2019, 08:36 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
I believe so. We've had Swiss members who don't post that they are veterans, yet every male above a certain age has to serve. Here in Thailand, in Korea, in many countries there is a universal conscription and while getting out of service is a national sport among the well-to-do, the vast majority of males serve. It may be because of that that you don't hear them talking about. It's no claim to exceptionalism if everybody serves.
Presumably another difference is what service may mean. For the US, there’s Iraq, Afghanistan etc. For the Swiss, there are barracks in Zurich and Geneva.
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Old 31st May 2019, 08:45 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Giz View Post
Presumably another difference is what service may mean. For the US, there’s Iraq, Afghanistan etc. For the Swiss, there are barracks in Zurich and Geneva.
What I found interesting is that the VA determines who does "wartime" or "peacetime" service. Gulf I ran from its start to 2000. Gulf II ran from Bush Junior's commencement to "the present day". For that reason, we have a helluva lot more "wartime" than "peacetime" vets.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:06 AM   #13
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I recently looked this up, about 7% of the US population are veterans of one sort or another and only about 1/2% are currently in the military.

I suspect the vast majority of us are fine and do fine. I don't have much to complain about how the VA treats me because I've never gone to them, nor do I actually know anyone who has. I think that says all you need to about the VA.

The way we treat the disabled and traumatized is slowly improving though. Back when I pops retired, they figured he'd be dead within 5 years despite the fact that he was only 36 at the time.

I also think all the "thank you for your service" stuff is pretty creepy and weird.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:10 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I recently looked this up, about 7% of the US population are veterans of one sort or another and only about 1/2% are currently in the military.

I suspect the vast majority of us are fine and do fine. I don't have much to complain about how the VA treats me because I've never gone to them, nor do I actually know anyone who has. I think that says all you need to about the VA.

The way we treat the disabled and traumatized is slowly improving though. Back when I pops retired, they figured he'd be dead within 5 years despite the fact that he was only 36 at the time.

I also think all the "thank you for your service" stuff is pretty creepy and weird.
My parents are friends with a retired Lt Colonel and he uses the VA and is very happy with them. He can easily afford to go elsewhere. Just depends on where you are I guess.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:16 AM   #15
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They are making improvements, slowly.

On the "back from deployment" thing, they have started new programs for Guard and Reservists who are called up that are much more that one-shot thing. Pre-deployment there are several events, usually over a weekend, and in many cases family are invited to come along (and paid for, travel, lodging, everything). These focus on both practical issues (dealing with finances, legal concerns, and similar while the soldier is away) and social/personal concerns (coping mechanisms, making sure family members have information on who to contact in emergencies, getting them into family support groups, etc).

Post deployment is similar, but focuses more one how to ease back into civilian life, again with both practical and emotional concerns, and again with a lot of information about resources and organizations to help, including free counselling sessions with professionals.

IT's still somewhat short-term, but I think of it like first-aid. At least they're getting the immediate care post-deployment, which should lessen some of the long-term problems. And it is a step in the right direction.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:35 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
Post deployment is similar, but focuses more one how to ease back into civilian life, again with both practical and emotional concerns, and again with a lot of information about resources and organizations to help, including free counselling sessions with professionals.

IT's still somewhat short-term, but I think of it like first-aid. At least they're getting the immediate care post-deployment, which should lessen some of the long-term problems. And it is a step in the right direction.
The theory and reality are two different things. If those post-deployment counseling sessions are done by people who aren't actually psychologists, don't ever result in referrals to actual mental health care when appropriate, or are spent trying to convince the soldier that their new depression and apparent PTSD symptoms aren't service-related or serious - all of which people have complained about in some of those Twitter replies - then this program that sounds so good on paper might actually be more harmful than beneficial.
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Old 31st May 2019, 09:35 AM   #17
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I was at a party once where this grumpy vet named TJ was telling stories from his time at Ramstein Air Base. Somebody interjected a pious, robotic "Well, thank you for your service." Without missing a bit, TJ rolled his eyes and said, "I didn't do it for you. I did it for the GI bill."

It was funny, but it also made me think about how many people join the military here for that reason - money for higher education. I remember how recruiters used to swarm campus events at the first university I attended. The dreamy visions they'd spin for gullible, broke freshmen actually made me sick. So many people join up with absolutely no idea of what they are or could be getting into.
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:13 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I was at a party once where this grumpy vet named TJ was telling stories from his time at Ramstein Air Base. Somebody interjected a pious, robotic "Well, thank you for your service." Without missing a bit, TJ rolled his eyes and said, "I didn't do it for you. I did it for the GI bill."

It was funny, but it also made me think about how many people join the military here for that reason - money for higher education. I remember how recruiters used to swarm campus events at the first university I attended. The dreamy visions they'd spin for gullible, broke freshmen actually made me sick. So many people join up with absolutely no idea of what they are or could be getting into.

I remember seeing a news story on TV, shortly after they started sending the National Guard to the Middle East in significant numbers. A member of the Guard was on camera, looking angry, saying "I joined to earn money for college, not to fight."
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:32 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
I believe so. We've had Swiss members who don't post that they are veterans, yet every male above a certain age has to serve. Here in Thailand, in Korea, in many countries there is a universal conscription and while getting out of service is a national sport among the well-to-do, the vast majority of males serve. It may be because of that that you don't hear them talking about. It's no claim to exceptionalism if everybody serves.
Norway also has universal conscription (Although in later years, not everyone is called to service. We're not in the age of mass infantry anymore.), but only those who have done service abroad are called veterans.

Veteran's day here was lost month, and we didn't honour people who did their conscription period, or officers who has only served in Norway. We honoured those who risked their lives in a theatre of conflict, whether that was against the Germans during WW2 or in Afghanistan. They are the veterans.
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:36 AM   #20
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Oh, and the adolation of veterans in the US is a bit creepy to me too. The only times I have been thanked for my service, it has been by Americans. Being a veteran gains you some respect here as well, but it's still not seen as very special. In no way does it define me, and I didn't do it to gain anyone's gratitude.

ETA: I read some of those Twitter replies, and they are heart breaking.

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Old 31st May 2019, 11:30 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
I was at a party once where this grumpy vet named TJ was telling stories from his time at Ramstein Air Base. Somebody interjected a pious, robotic "Well, thank you for your service." Without missing a bit, TJ rolled his eyes and said, "I didn't do it for you. I did it for the GI bill."

It was funny, but it also made me think about how many people join the military here for that reason - money for higher education. I remember how recruiters used to swarm campus events at the first university I attended. The dreamy visions they'd spin for gullible, broke freshmen actually made me sick. So many people join up with absolutely no idea of what they are or could be getting into.
I find this attitude rather condescending. Its not like its hidden from anyone. It is the army or marines after all. I don't what to tell some one who doesn't know what that may entail.

Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
I remember seeing a news story on TV, shortly after they started sending the National Guard to the Middle East in significant numbers. A member of the Guard was on camera, looking angry, saying "I joined to earn money for college, not to fight."
That just makes him stupid. Kind of reminds of that whole stop loss controversy. Folks were angry that they were being called back up, its right on the tin. You're obligated for 8 years. Some of which is active some reserves but if you're in the reserves, you can be called in.
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Old 31st May 2019, 11:34 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I find this attitude rather condescending. Its not like its hidden from anyone. It is the army or marines after all. I don't what to tell some one who doesn't know what that may entail.



That just makes him stupid. Kind of reminds of that whole stop loss controversy. Folks were angry that they were being called back up, its right on the tin. You're obligated for 8 years. Some of which is active some reserves but if you're in the reserves, you can be called in.
I think the farce was that the reserves were still advertising that it was just a weekend a month and two weeks a year when they knew that anybody signing up would be heading off full time as soon as the ink dried.
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Old 31st May 2019, 11:56 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I find this attitude rather condescending. Its not like its hidden from anyone. It is the army or marines after all. I don't what to tell some one who doesn't know what that may entail.
Bull ****. You must be in a different age bracket. The recruiters waltzed around campus telling people they'd just have to do a few weeks and weekends in the reserves, completely out in a few years, rolling in cash. Hell, they probably wouldn't even have to put off school! They targeted non-wealthy kids with no real guidance and downplayed the reality they were selling to hell. They knew exactly what they were doing, and it was scummy. The people who fell for it were stupid to not do more research, but that doesn't make the tactics any less scummy.
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Old 31st May 2019, 11:58 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I think the farce was that the reserves were still advertising that it was just a weekend a month and two weeks a year when they knew that anybody signing up would be heading off full time as soon as the ink dried.

It was fiction, but there was an episode of NCIS in Season One (2004) that opened with a Navy recruiter reassuring a pair of recent high school graduates that the fighting in the Middle East would be over long before they finished their training, so they wouldn't have to worry about a combat deployment if they enlisted.
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Old 31st May 2019, 12:36 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
It was fiction, but there was an episode of NCIS in Season One (2004) that opened with a Navy recruiter reassuring a pair of recent high school graduates that the fighting in the Middle East would be over long before they finished their training, so they wouldn't have to worry about a combat deployment if they enlisted.
Hate to be cynical,and meaning no disrespect to the Navy people out there but if you joined the navy your chances of actually seeing land combat were pretty low...
As for Ground level combat,only way that happned were
A;If you became a medic, and got assigned to a Marine Company as medic (the US Marines gets it's medics from the Navy)
B; If you become a Navy Seal..and in that case you damn well know what you are signing on for...(of course your chances of becoming a Navy Seal are not good, given the washot rate in BUDS..the infamous Seal basic training, the toughest training the US Military has to offer)...
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Old 31st May 2019, 07:39 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I recently looked this up, about 7% of the US population are veterans of one sort or another and only about 1/2% are currently in the military.

I suspect the vast majority of us are fine and do fine. I don't have much to complain about how the VA treats me because I've never gone to them, nor do I actually know anyone who has. I think that says all you need to about the VA.

The way we treat the disabled and traumatized is slowly improving though. Back when I pops retired, they figured he'd be dead within 5 years despite the fact that he was only 36 at the time.

I also think all the "thank you for your service" stuff is pretty creepy and weird.
TBF, I know that sounds small, but to other countries without compulsary service like the US that is a pretty blimmin large percentage.
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Old 31st May 2019, 07:43 PM   #27
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Sorry.

Just reading back my own post I meant "like the US" as in they don't have compulsory either. Not that they do and we don't
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:11 PM   #28
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The US spends big $ on its defence force. Much more than many other countries. This is one of the complaints of Trump.
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Old 31st May 2019, 10:45 PM   #29
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I'm not surprised. Government employees, especially at the federal level, expect to be celebrated and coddled for the rest of their years. Life is difficult.
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Old 2nd June 2019, 07:03 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
That just makes him stupid. Kind of reminds of that whole stop loss controversy. Folks were angry that they were being called back up, its right on the tin. You're obligated for 8 years. Some of which is active some reserves but if you're in the reserves, you can be called in.
I remember hearing those stories about inactive reserves being called back and thought they couldn't really be that naive; but I was wrong, they were.

But being in the submarine force, I was rather coddled compared to those who actually had to pull a trigger for their pay. I'd not want to be a real soldier who had to get sent back into actual battle after finishing active duty.

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Old 2nd June 2019, 11:33 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by dudalb View Post
Hate to be cynical,and meaning no disrespect to the Navy people out there but if you joined the navy your chances of actually seeing land combat were pretty low...
As for Ground level combat,only way that happned were
A;If you became a medic, and got assigned to a Marine Company as medic (the US Marines gets it's medics from the Navy)
B; If you become a Navy Seal..and in that case you damn well know what you are signing on for...(of course your chances of becoming a Navy Seal are not good, given the washot rate in BUDS..the infamous Seal basic training, the toughest training the US Military has to offer)...
I have heard from one guy that ended up in Vietnam that way. He wanted to join the Navy and be a cook, but got convinced by the recruiter to become a Corpsman instead without being told that Navy Corpsmen were actually medics for the Marines.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 12:41 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
The US spends big $ on its defence force. Much more than many other countries. This is one of the complaints of Trump.
Actually it's two of his complaints, it's at once too high (for individual items of expenditure where President Trump would have gotten a much better deal) and too low (US military spending needs to increase because despite all the money thrown at it, the US Army has fewer muzzle-loading rifles than it did 200 years ago - it's scandalous)
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Old 3rd June 2019, 12:49 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
I find this attitude rather condescending. Its not like its hidden from anyone. It is the army or marines after all. I don't what to tell some one who doesn't know what that may entail.
For someone signing up right now, IMO you're absolutely right, it's clear what being a reservist now involves.

Then again for someone signing up as a reservist some point between the end of the Vietnam War and the start of the Second Gulf War/Afghanistan Conflict, the risk of having to actively serve in an active war zone was very low (effectively zero except for a few specialist roles ?).

Perhaps it was foolish for someone in the late 90's or early 00's to sign up as a reservist expecting to get funding through college with little or no risk to their own skin but they did have close to 30 years of precedent and the US had little or no recent track record of long term, large scale deployment of reservists to active war zones AFAIK.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 04:25 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by isissxn View Post
Bull ****. You must be in a different age bracket. The recruiters waltzed around campus telling people they'd just have to do a few weeks and weekends in the reserves, completely out in a few years, rolling in cash. Hell, they probably wouldn't even have to put off school! They targeted non-wealthy kids with no real guidance and downplayed the reality they were selling to hell. They knew exactly what they were doing, and it was scummy. The people who fell for it were stupid to not do more research, but that doesn't make the tactics any less scummy.
Recruiting Sgts selling credulous rubes a line of goods? Say it isn't so.

It's not like that particular occupation hasn't been using those same tactics to get bodies in the ranks since, well the dawn of organized military forces.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 06:19 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by smartcooky View Post
I did 20 years in our military, and during that time, I came into direct contact USAF, US Navy and US Marine Corps servicemen and veterans. I made a lot of friends.. some temporary, some not. I am still in contact with some of them to this day, more than 30 years later.

Now, I'm sorry, but what I am about to say might offend some people, and might come off a bit preachy, but your country, the USA, treats its war veterans like garbage. They appear to have a status of little more value than a disposable commodity; when they have been used up, they are thrown away and forgotten about. Your prisoners are treated better than your veterans.

I think this probably started (or at least became a lot worse) after the Vietnam War... a war that the American people grew to be ashamed of and wanted to forget, so they treated the returning servicemen accordingly. The responsibility for this is bipartisan too... both the Dems and the GOP are equally to blame for the current situation.
Not really, my boss talks about WWII disabled vets panhandling in NYC when he was growing up. Was it ever really better?
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Old 3rd June 2019, 06:21 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by The Don View Post
I think the starkest difference is between the way in which politicians appear to treat veterans, feigning concern, giving respect, promising all kinds of things and the way in which veterans are actually treated. I think the latter would be less egregious (though no less unacceptable) if the former weren't so pronounced.
???? Other than Trump what politicians have disrespected veterans? They might not be good at accomplishing change but this seems to be more a myth than fact.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 06:25 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
The theory and reality are two different things. If those post-deployment counseling sessions are done by people who aren't actually psychologists, don't ever result in referrals to actual mental health care when appropriate, or are spent trying to convince the soldier that their new depression and apparent PTSD symptoms aren't service-related or serious - all of which people have complained about in some of those Twitter replies - then this program that sounds so good on paper might actually be more harmful than beneficial.
And even the psychologists tended to have conflicted views, what is good for the patient vs what is good for the service. Hence a lot of vets got dishonorable discharges as a result of their PTSD after all.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 08:19 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Checkmite View Post
The theory and reality are two different things. If those post-deployment counseling sessions are done by people who aren't actually psychologists, don't ever result in referrals to actual mental health care when appropriate, or are spent trying to convince the soldier that their new depression and apparent PTSD symptoms aren't service-related or serious - all of which people have complained about in some of those Twitter replies - then this program that sounds so good on paper might actually be more harmful than beneficial.
They are.

The practical matters are covered by relevant experts: legal, financial, etc.

The Counselling is provided by licensed, civilian mental health providers and covered by Tricare insurance. You can choose one recommended by the military or use your own.

I've been through the program myself, and while not perfect, it's MUCH better than anything there used to be.

And frankly, without some actual statistics, I'm not taking twitter tweets as indicative of anything. Not to say there isn't something there, but I've heard people complaining that their heart disease wasn't classed as service-connected while they're shoveling in their third bacon-cheeseburger with ranch dressing for breakfast. I'd want to see some actual stats; because everything I have seen suggests it's getting better.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 08:58 AM   #39
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Reading some of these posts, and those on that Twitter thread, has made me once again realize how very fortunate I was with my Army "service", 1971-72.
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Old 3rd June 2019, 09:23 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by Hellbound View Post
And frankly, without some actual statistics, I'm not taking twitter tweets as indicative of anything. Not to say there isn't something there, but I've heard people complaining that their heart disease wasn't classed as service-connected while they're shoveling in their third bacon-cheeseburger with ranch dressing for breakfast.
That seems like unnecessarily cruel victim-blaming considering the vast overwhelming majority of the complaints in the Twitter thread reference not getting help for PTSD and depression post-combat, rather than lifestyle-preventable maladies. Perhaps you are working off of preconceived notions of what kinds of things people complain about rather than what the posters are actually posting.
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