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Serving in the Military Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health

May is Military Appreciation Month. But it is also Mental Health Month. How fitting.

May is a big month for the military.

On May 1, there is Loyalty Day, a day “set aside for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States, and to reflect on the proud heritage of our American freedom.” Loyalty to the United States always includes loyalty to its military, the defenders of American freedom.

On May 5-11, there is Public Service Recognition Week. It is a time “set aside to honor the men and women who serve our nation as federal, state, county and local government employees and ensure that our government is the best in the world.” Members of the military are viewed as the supreme servants of the nation.

On May 8, there is Victory in Europe Day. It commemorates the day in 1945 “when Germans throughout Europe unconditionally surrendered to the Allies,” ending World War II in Europe.

On May 10, there is Military Spouse Appreciation Day,” a “day to honor military spouses with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” It “recognizes the important role our military families play in keeping our Armed Forces strong and our country safe.”

On May 18, there is Armed Forces Day. It is “a single holiday for citizens to come together and thank our military members for their patriotic service in support of our country.” It “honors everyone serving in the U.S. Military branches; Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy.”

On May 27, there is Memorial Day. It “commemorates the men and women who died while in military service.”

It was in 1999 that Senator John McCain introduced legislation to designate the month of May as National Military Appreciation Month. “Both the Senate and House of Representatives adopted resolutions calling for Americans to recognize and honor U.S. Service Members during NMAM. These proclamations also urge the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe NMAM.”

It was in 1949 that the National Association for Mental Health (now called Mental Health America) designated May as Mental Health Month. The organization welcomes “other organizations to join us in spreading the word that mental health is something everyone should care about by using the May is Mental Health Month toolkit materials and conducting awareness activities.”

How fitting that both of these observances are in the same month since serving in the military can be hazardous to your mental health.

How so?

  • Having to obey orders unconditionally
  • Having to invade other countries that were no threat to the United States
  • Having to occupy other countries for no good reason
  • Having to make widows and orphans
  • Having to fight unjust wars
  • Having to potentially have limbs or genitals blown off for no good reason
  • Having to spread democracy at the point of a gun
  • Having to be a pawn in the hands of Uncle Sam
  • Having to be the world’s policeman, fireman, bully, and social worker
  • Having to kill civilians and dismiss it as collateral damage
  • Having to potentially die in vain, for a lie, or for a mistake
  • Having to pretend to defend Americans’ freedoms
  • Having to fight immoral wars
  • Having to guard shores—but not American ones
  • Having to kill and maim foreigners who had never harmed an American
  • Having to potentially die so the United States can maintain an empire
  • Having to destroy foreign industry and infrastructure—and then rebuild it
  • Having to defend other countries but not the United States
  • Having to fight unnecessary wars
  • Having to potentially die an unnecessary and senseless death
  • Having to enforce no-fly zones—in other countries
  • Having to take sides in civil wars that are no concern of the United States
  • Having to fight undeclared wars
  • Having to carry out a reckless, belligerent, and deeply flawed U.S. foreign policy
  • Having to neglect one’s family
  • Having to help create terrorists, insurgents, and militants because of U.S. interventions
  • Having to engage in offense while calling it defense
  • Having to serve the state while people thank you for serving on their behalf
  • Having to pretend that you keep Americans safe from terrorists by fighting overseas
  • Having to go where no American soldier has any business going
  • Having to potentially die for U.S. imperialism
  • Having to help unleash sectarian violence
  • Having to secure foreign borders—but not American ones
  • Having to pretend to be supporting and defending the Constitution
  • Having to potentially die for the military/industrial complex
  • Having to do nothing heroic while people call you a hero
  • Having to do the government’s dirty work
  • Having to potentially get PTSD or a traumatic brain injury for absolutely no good reason
  • Having to patrol coats—but not American ones
  • Having to pretend to fight “over there” so no one has to fight “over here”
  • Having to be a global force for evil while television commercials say the opposite
  • Having to join the military, travel the world, meet interesting people, and then kill them.

No wonder so many veterans and active duty military personnel commit suicide, are addicted to drugs or alcohol, can’t hold down a job after coming home from Afghanistan, have PTSD, or suffer from mental health issues!

But it is all so unnecessary. Just stay out of the military.

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