Reading lots about the #VanessaGuillen story and am seeing related stories to mental health in regard to military and recruiting.
The reality is the military recruits those with a poorly formed sense of self, leading to acceptance of environments that are morally questionable.
I cannot speak for the army, marines, or air force but will speak to my experience as a submariner and my perception of those I served with for 20 years.
Mental health was not allowed to be a focus.
If you mentioned the word suicide in any serious context you were removed.
That being said it was common place for us to routinely joke about suicide, physical harm to ourselves and others, to the effect of normalizing being in an environment that is inherently harmful to the human body.
Serotonin is the primary "give a fuck about your life" chemical that your brain creates.
If you have healthy serotonin production, you wake up most days with a desire to be productive and generally have a positive lookout on life.
Serotonin production is most dramatically affected by three things.
1. healthy food.
2. regular sunlight
3. healthy and normal sleep schedule.
I didn't find this out until after 17 years of service and had checked into a mental health facility myself.
This is not common information that they give out to Sailors.
It would be nice to know that the way you feel is normal and that this kind of environment is hard af.
Instead you are fed this is the greatest job ever, you're the tip of the spear, so stfu and go to work.
They do not tell you this.
If they told you that you will feel like shit no matter what you do then no one would do it.
And they don't advertise anything other than external benefits (e.g. money for college, help get a job, typical how to be a better part of the system).
The Navy motto is "Forged by the Sea".
This plays right into the “we will mold you to be something useful” adage.
And then once you arrive you are treated like any new person is in a frat culture that has million/billion dollar weapons attached to it.
STFU and do as you're told.
Dissent and be removed.
Point where the system is flawed and you will be disciplined.
Money will be taken away or your freedom stripped.
I joined the Navy to make some money and to get away from my current life.
I wanted freedom from it.
As did most of those who joined alongside me.
The Navy knows this and will use that against you at every turn.
Like any toxic relationship they will threaten to drop you off where you came from with nothing.
Well not nothing.
The threat of a dishonorable discharge, like herpes, will go with you.
So what does this do to your mental health?
Like any form of grooming, it will lead you to believe that you are something that you are not.
And eventually you will have to choose whether to be yourself or who they want you to be.
This is a constant conflict.
Don't get me wrong.
I signed up for all of this.
I joined because I didn't know who I was or how to be myself at 18, let alone know where to go or what to do.
Those with even the best upbringing struggle with direction at 18.
The Navy tells you who you are now and how they expect you to be.
And stepping out of line comes with grave consequences or so we are groomed to believe.
And when this comes to events such as #VanessaGuillen little by little we are more morally ambiguous.
The military uses this tool to recruit.
They regularly ask people to go and do morally questionable things for the sake of freedom or god and country, though I can count on a single hand those I know who joined for god and country.
I joined because there were few other options.
I stayed in because the uncertainty about getting out was further bred into me
Ship. Shipmate. Self. is the order of importance once you are in.
Put the ship first, shipmates second, and yourself last.
And do not come to me bitching about time with family or any of that because they didn't come in your gd seabag.
We all laugh because if we don't we will cry, and if you cry you're branded a pussy, fa$$ot, or bitch, and are likely labeled a burden on the ship and your shipmates.
Burdens, metaphorical or otherwise, are tossed overboard.
The fact that an entire chain of command is suspect to #VanessaGuillen being missing is not surprising and it feels kind of like the status quo.
Her problems were hurting the mission so it's probably best she went away.
Her problems are not individual.
They belong to all of us.
They belong to everyone one of us who has called someone struggling a derogatory name.
They belong to all of us who have looked the other way.
We, and I mean we, tried to bury our problems with her.
And I am honestly happy they got dug back up because it is time we deal with this bullshit.
Regaining our morals as a branch, as a military, as a country is worth sacrificing any mission.
IDGAF what it is.