Far from home, trained to commit violence on a second's notice, and protecting ready to give their lives to maintain our current way of life, soldiers face a brutal task every single day.
Of course, some days are especially brutal.
It only takes a second of mindlessness, a hardware malfunction, or some miscommunication for things to become very dangerous, very quickly in a warzone.
And that's not even taking into account the enemy's active attempts to kill.
Thus, many soldiers have been faced with truly terrifying moments where death felt only moments away.
Some Redditors who've served gathered to share their close calls. Luckily, they made it out of the situation with their physical safety intact.
VentSauxe asked, "Soldiers, what's the scariest thing that ever happened to you?"
Many people talked about the horrors of flying in the air.
Helicopters, a very common piece of warfare and regular patrolling, are far from flawless machines.
"In 2006, I was riding a Chinook from Balad to Kuwait. It was dead of night and we were landing for refueling. Well, somehow, some way, the pilot lost control of the aircraft for a few hundred feet as we were descending. He recovered before we crashed, obviously."
"I was on my way home, since I'd already been in theater a year, and got shot at more times than I could count. There was a moment, about 100 years long, that I thought I was going to die in a helicopter crash in southern Iraq. It was unpleasant."
"The worst part was the look on the face of the crew chief, a guy who'd spent a lot of time in the air and knew what was what. The best part was hearing the veteran warrant officer scream at the captain who was flying when we finally got to Kuwait."
As If They New
"Was on a helicopter for a reenlistment, the flight was supposed to be about 3 hours long, after about an hour they decided to cancel the rest of the flight so they could use the helicopter for training."
"Upon return they did a quick inspection to see the tail rotor disconnect was almost completely sheared. Had we have been on the flight any longer, that aircraft would've gone in a downward spiral and would've ruined a lot of peoples' day."
Hell of a Pilot
"I've posted this before but the scariest moment I had was when I was flying in to an airbase one deployment. We were in a 'friendly' country but there are usually people that don't like us wherever we go."
"On final decent, the aircraft went pitch black and started juking back and forth. The crew chief came running back shouting to close all windows and extinguish any lights. It was then that I noticed the tracer fire going past the wing in the darkness. I would have put $100 on that being my last night on earth, but we made it down."
"Once the pilot saw the tracers from ground go past the nose, he immediately took evasive action, which saved us all. I assume it was small arms fire, but still, aircraft do not general respond well to bullets."
Others discussed the horrifying nature of explosive mortar fire. Sometimes on purpose, sometimes on accident, these moments were terrifying no matter what the backstory was.
A Back Spasm Chain Reaction
"So back about almost 5 years ago. Our battalion was doing a training exercise out in 29 palms ITX. (Those who've been there know what it's about). So there's an exercise on machine gun hill where gunners and mortar men practice support by fire. Couple of rotations of groups later. One of our guys has a back spasm and ends up falling down the hill a short distance. Get a call for evac due to the injury and our corpsman jumps in the medical truck."
"Mind you at this time, the mortar teams is mid fire mission with live ammo."
"So our corpsman tells the driver (who we found out later didn't know the route to the due to not being briefed) started towards the hill. The driver starts driving to the hill where the mortars are dropping. A few of us are watching this and start to question whether they were going the right way or not."
"About 5 seconds after saying that a mortar drops pretty damn close to the truck and me and about 5-6 of us got up and started running to the mortar position screaming cease fire over and over again."
"Good news is nobody got hurt on the truck but it was decorated with some new pieces of shrapnel. I swear. All our hearts were in our throats after that. Never had I covered 200-300 meters so quickly in my life."
"Mortar richocet 30 feet away from me. Flew past and never detonated." -- exec-order66
"I don't know the whole story, but something similar is the reason I'm alive today. Grandfather had that happen to him (think it might've been closer) in '45 somewhere between the Netherlands and Hamburg." -- ImNotAWhaleBiologist
"Haha similar sh** happened to me except it legit slid up against the building I was in...and I was directly on the other side.
"Sad thing is - and I'm sure you know the feeling...when I found that out later it phased me zero by that point. Weird the sh** we can get used to." -- HotStool
"Was doing some refresh training with some new guys on pretty standard call for fire missions with white phosphorus from 81mm mortars one day. We knew that our target range wasn't far from another range where some engineers were doing C4 training. Had my guy call in a mission and observed two rounds hit, and while looking for the third round noticed it landed way off target right into the next door range."
"Called cease fire on the radio and that a rouge rounded had landed on possible friendlies, heard the mortar line (about 100 meters away) start screaming orders, sent a runner for the FSO, and then called range control. Had a truck barreling out to the range to see what got hit."
"Was pretty concerned we may have hit someone, or at least scared the sh** out of some guys. Turns out the engineers left the range 30 minutes prior and it was empty. Was wondering whose a** was getting smoked and found out later one of the mortarmen left an extra c-charge on the round. He got NJP'ed and everyone got some extra training. Good day."
The Worst Zone to Be In
"120mm Mortar round landed about 30 feet from me at a checkpoint near Balad."
"It was a training round and didn't explode."
"If it would have, I was well within the 'nothing survives' radius."
Other times, some rather bizarre situations arose that, despite their somewhat strange elements, were just as horrifying.
"Not me, but my cousin, who I wish like hell was still with me... He used to talk to me sometimes about his time in the service. I guess it was like therapy for him."
"It was early on in his long career. He was in an apc of some sort, and their column or whatever you call it was stopped during a massive dust storm. He said they were stuck in it for what felt like ages, and he eventually had to pee."
"He gets outside, goggles on, unable to see his own hand in front of his face, had to figure out how to piss in the middle of a dust storm... He ends up getting turned around, and spent the next 15 minutes trying to find his way back to the stopped vehicles."
"He said it was one of the scariest things that he'd experienced, worrying that he was going to stumble onto some bad dudes and end up bagged and held hostage."
A Terrible Split Second Nonetheless
"I had it really good compared to most. I acknowledge that 100%. However, I was in Djibouti, visiting an ATM...(stay with me, cushy a** job in the DJ I know) I turn around and a little kid is pointing a gun at me! It took a second to realize it was a toy."
"For half a second I hoped my mama was sure I loved her with all my soul. I did some deployments, didn't do hard time. But that moment has stayed with me all the years since as a reminder to be aware of every single thing around me."
"Had a round ricochet off some cinderblocks next to me which then caught me in the front of my helmet. I don't know if it was the force of the round or my reaction but I spun face-first into the little wall I was behind."
"That cut me a bit so now I'm thinking I got shot in the fu**ing face. Took me a while to calm down from that. For a brief second there I thought my 18 year old a** was gonna die on some unnamed street in what was/is Fallujah, Iraq."
Stories like these go far in reminding us of the human element of all that's going on across the world. Concrete, specific anecdotes like this remind us that nothing can be taken for granted.
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How many people do you know battling addictions?
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), addiction is "a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual's life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences."
Hearing from those who have battled addictions––and come out the other side––can be remarkably eye-opening, as we were reminded once Redditor YoshBotArmy asked the online community,
"People who have beaten an addiction... what's your secret?"
"I'd then check off..."
"Alcohol. The "one day at a time" approach was too much. I made a chart with a 24 hour day broken up into 15 minutes. For example: 8:00-8:15. [ ]
8:15-8:30. [ ]
8:30-8:45. [ ]
I'd then check off a box for every fifteen minutes I didn't drink. This really boosted my confidence because although I may have only gone two hours without drinking, my brain focused on the 8 boxes I checked off.
Minutes turned into hours, hours turned into days, etc.
It's now been 8 years."
"You need to want to quit..."
"You need to want to quit, otherwise, it will be a fight against yourself. I quit smoking about 15 years ago after being a smoker for like 18 years. I decided to quit several times but never stuck, always found a reason to fall back into the habit. One day my 4yo daughter told me that she was going to find a way to save me from cancer because smokers are bound to get it. After that, I couldn't stand cigarettes anymore and quit within the week. Never again. I wanted to be there for my girl more than anything else."
"The lesson to take away from this..."
"I realised my binge eating was due to a general lack of self-control. I developed bulimia (exercise is my poison) trying to counteract it, and I still struggle with that.
I struggled with it for years and tried everything under the sun to stop it. It wasn't until I started practicing Stoicism that I started seeing life differently. Then a couple of years into that, I overheard a colleague say "it's all about finding balance" in a conversation about the challenges life throws at you. That quote stuck with me for about a year until I realised I have no sense of balance because I used to be an extremely black and white/all or nothing character.
It's now been 2 years since I completely stopped binge eating, and it was all due to having that epiphany. Took practice to get into good eating habits and a routine with meals but I'm all good now.
The lesson to take away from this - teach your children self-control and the ability to say no to themselves. My parents gave me everything I wanted so I had to teach myself this throughout my early 20s."
"That does not mean..."
"You have to learn to give yourself grace.
Relapses happen. I self-mutilate. I will do incredible for months. Then one negative thought can send me into a spiral and I harm myself.
That does not mean that I undid any of the hard work I had done up to this point. I acknowledge that I made a mistake, identify my triggers, and make an effort to start clear of them. Take a deep breath and try again."
A valuable observation.
"I kicked the habit..."
"I wasn't physically addicted to marijuana, but I had such a mental dependency on it that it was pretty much like being addicted. I couldn't function without it.
I kicked the habit by pursuing a girl. I really wanted to date her, and I didn't want her to know that I was actively smoking weed. I stopped smoking weed because I'd fallen in love with a girl. I'm now married to her, and I haven't smoked weed in over 4 years."
"The most important thing..."
"The most important thing I ever learned was not to fight cravings. I don't mean to give in and use when a craving strikes but for a long time simply feeling the craving was awful. I tried so much to avoid the feeling because I was scared of it.
I saw the suggestion to actually indulge the feeling and just let it wash over you. When I tried it, it was still uncomfortable to want to use but by letting myself feel the craving fully I was able to let it go and move on with my day more easily. Fighting the craving just made me suffer."
"I wore a rubber band..."
"I wore a rubber band around my arm and anytime I thought about my addiction, I would snap it and hurt myself. That way, I associated my addiction with pain and eventually broke my body's natural desire for it."
It turns out this has merit.
"I have no idea..."
"Coffee. I was a serious caffeine addict (like 12 cups a day), and one day for no reason I just woke up and ... didn't feel like having coffee. I've had maybe 5 cups of coffee in the 10 years since then.
I have no idea why it happened, but I haven't felt a craving for it in years. I wish that would happen for my other bad habits."
"I don't think..."
"I don't think it's a secret. Understanding the addiction. Knowing that it takes time for the chemicals in your brain to reset. Knowing it's gonna suck. Being prepared as best you can. Knowing it's going to be a battle."
"I'm not very far..."
"It was really taking a toll on my overall health and one day I woke up and said never again. I'm not very far into recovery and I've never been to a meeting or anything. I know I can't have it around me or I'll relapse."
We are proud of anyone who manages to beat an addiction and who can speak about their experience so candidly. And if any of you out there are struggling, we're rooting for you.
Have some of your own stories? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments section below.
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I'm just spitballing here, but it seems to me that pretty much that weapons of war are among humanity's worst creations. Sure: We live in an anarchic world. States can never be certain of another state's intentions. Conflicts are bound to break out. But in a perfect world––and a man can dream––none of this would be necessary.
It seems I'm not alone in this, either. People had opinions of their own after Redditor Questwarrior asked the online community,
"What was the worst human invention ever made?"
"Cheap and easy to make..."
"Landmines. Cheap and easy to make, but they remain active and people forget where they put them."
"Styrofoam. It's toxic, can't be recycled, and there are better alternatives."
It also sounds horrible when rubbed against another piece of Styrofoam. Torturous.
"Now idiots can connect to each other..."
"Social Media - It gave people the ability to find others and create echo chambers. Before, idiots were isolated to dealing with just a few in their immediate radius of existence. Now idiots can connect to each other across the world and validate their thoughts/feelings."
This is very true. We're seeing the consequences, aren't we?
Ain't built like they used to - because they can't sell you a newer model if the old one is still performing like new.
If companies didn't have this in mind we wouldn't be running out of resources and messing up the planet in search of more. This would create less conflict and way less pollution. Imagine companies actually making insanely good, long-lasting products instead of cheap ones that needs replacing more often than it should."
"Heroin destroys people's lives every day."
"As a medical student..."
"As a medical student, I basically see people every day whose lives have been wrecked by smoking. Kids and unborn babies get messed over by tobacco smoke. Stupid and plain evil."
A great film about the tobacco industry: The Insider (1999). Really makes you think about the cost we all pay for Big Tobacco.
"I can't believe..."
"The concept of Flat Earth. I can't believe people are still stuck in the seventeenth century and still believe in that crap and try to defend it with their misunderstandings of science and physics, as well as pure ignorance."
People believe the most ridiculous things.
"They exist solely..."
"Torture devices. They exist solely to cause harm."
"How am I going to pay you..."
"Overdraft fees. How am I going to pay you EXTRA money when I don't have money?!"
Human beings are capable of so much innovation, beauty, and joy, but threads like these remind us of all the horrors in the world. There's a lot of darkness in humans, too.
Have some of your own contributions to share? Feel free to tell us about them in the comments below!
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Homelessness is an unfortunate and all-too-common occurrence in the world, particularly in the United States. Homelessness has grown to a huge degree, and while most countries have the resources to help their homeless, many choose not to.
It is also difficult to break the cycle of homelessness once you have entered it. It creates a never-ending loop of failed job searching, lost or stolen goods/items/things of value, and stigmatization by society. More often than not, homelessness is begotten by another condition wherein the state or country fails to provide resources--such as mental health.
"Ex homeless people, what are some things people don't know about the streets?"
Here were some of those answers.
A Sad Reality
"My stint on the streets was about six months and due to some bad decisions I made. But what sticks with me the most was the crushing boredom."
"No intellectual stimulus at all because it's safer to keep your distance from other homeless, and you're not going to have a chat with civilian out of the blue."
"So you're completely alone all the time. And to avoid putting yourself in risky situations you stay on the move as much as possible."
"Most cities you can get some day labor work for quick cash but then you have to be careful about people knowing you have cash. You're always on the lookout."
"The only sound nights sleep I ever got was when I could manage to scrounge up enough cash to get a room in a transient hotel for a night and basically pass out from exhaustion."
"Other than that you're sleep deprived most of the time. And of course all this is made worse if on the streets in winter."-HardALee99
The Worst Side Of A Woman's Life (TW: Rape)
"I'm a psychiatric RN who works with mostly homeless people."
"I have heard SO MANY TIMES where women who tested positive for meth have said they use it to stay awake 24/7 to avoid being assaulted by other homeless."
Lucky To Be Alive
"People can and often do develop PTSD from being homeless, especially in rough areas. BF was kicked out at 14 in what was, at the time, the heroin capital of the Northeast, and he very quickly realized that selling drugs was the easiest way to make sure he had food/water/shelter as someone under legal age to work."
"But bouncing from crackhouse to crackhouse— especially as a kid— creates this state of constant hyper-vigilance, possessiveness over your belongings, a lot of hoarding behaviors, etc."
"Basically you wind up living in survival mode the entire time so you don't get assaulted/arrested/kidnapped/shanked."
"To this day if you touch him while he's sleeping he freaks the f**k out. Loud noises at night freak him out, car engines outside, lights in the window, etc."
"He still sleeps better on a couch in the corner of the room than a bed, because 'at least then you have something at your back, makes it harder for people to surprise you.'"
"Nightmares, too. Just... a whole bunch of sh*t, some of which I won't get into because he's embarrassed by it. Here are a few of the choice events he went through, though, just in the first two years or so:"
"He's almost had his throat slit with a half a DVD, woke up with a fork in his chest from some crazy chick, had all his food stolen, even had somebody inject him with heroin against his will while he was sleeping. Sad to think about."
"He's off the streets now, kicked a drug addiction, found a good-paying job, and is about to go to college. But the damage being homeless for his adolesence/early adulthood did..."
"It's going to be a while before he really feels safe. Not to mention he feels like a failure going to college at 30, but... I mean, how many people could have gone through all the horrific sh*t he went through, lived to tell the tale, AND somehow managed to keep going and eventually recover?"-vishuual
Homelessness is even expensive for the country because it leads to more and more problems that resources have to be expended upon in order to deal with the mental health and physical trauma it causes.
Over And Over
"One thing that f**ked me up was my concept of time. Often I'd be up late as f**k trying to sleep and before I knew it, the sun's back up."
"You gotta plan your day differently to use the restroom and it's hard to even find anything 'normal' to do because there are so little resources."
"People don't realize that being homeless is a situation in which no one is really looking to help you to find a sustainable life. It's truly being otherized and ostracized until you die or miraculously get back on the work grind."-SuperDuperChuck
Not An Addict
"I guess the worst part for me was the lasting trauma."
"Sure walking around in sandals because it's all you have when it's raining sucks. Sure sleeping in public is terrifying. Yeah homeless shelters are packed out. Borderline impossible to get a job."
"But the worst part was realising I'd lost some fundamental part of myself and I wasn't getting it back. Innocence maybe?"
"But it's more than that, it's like that Lily Allen music video where she's walking around with rose coloured glasses but the audience sees what's real. Yeah well, you lose the glasses and you never get them back."
"There's nothing that fixes the trauma of knowing people who you thought were your friends or family were fully aware you had nowhere to go and didn't do anything about it."
"You can't fix that feeling of your best friend not returning your texts until you're back on your feet. Or the stares you get in the street when thousands of people walk past and don't stop."
"I'm physically ok now but I'll never see people the same way again. I don't know how to. I used to be a really sociable person and now I steer clear of most people. I don't trust anyone."
"Also as an aside, the people who were kindest to me were always working class. A construction worker who bought me lunch. A taxi driver who got me a blanket. Rich people treat you like utter filth and disappear ASAP."
"I was homeless due to domestic violence as well, but people just assume it must be drugs. I literally barely drink let alone use drugs, but in people's minds homeless = addict."-SunnydaleHigh1999
Stop Stigmatizing Homelessness
"The amount of 'ordinary' people there are that are homeless. I was homeless for about 6 months but you would have never known."
"I had job where I could make just enough to stay fed and get a gym membership. I kept all my clothes in the gym/ back room of the restaurant I worked at."
"I'd hide and sleep in the back office of the restaurant. A lot of homeless people have cars and can sleep in them."
"Gym memberships are the easiest ways to stay clean/ not look homeless. Once my boss found out I was homeless, he let me move into a room at a hotel he managed for free. That man saved my life."-SeamanTheSailor
Food Or Money?
"People seem to have this perception that food is the only thing a homeless person would need to use money on and so they will give food in place of money."
"While giving food is nice, it isn't some one-to-one replacement for money. Food can't help you get cleaned up for job interviews, for example."-CattyPlatty
And homelessness is caused by a number of things--most of which are failures of the government. There are enough vacant homes in the United States for every homeless person to have 6.
Policing Your Own Cleanliness
"What's really important is staying clean. But not so clean people won't give you money if you have to panhandle."
"Don't let people know where you sleep if you can help it."
"Don't take work offers alone, you never know what kind of sicko's there are out there, especially once they have you alone in their environment."-Tired_of_yer_ish
Read That Part Again About How Close You Are To Homelessness
"Former homeless person here (as a child and an adult) and someone who used to work helping folks who were unhoused due to violence get housing:"
"-You are more likely to become homeless than win the lottery. Most Americans (around 60%, that number has probably changed in the pandemic) are one missed paycheck away from homelessness."
"-As shared above, lack of quality jobs, affordable inventory (meaning not enough affordable housing), and integrative and trauma-informed heath care services are the leading causes that keep people unhoused."
"All this to say, you have far more in common with people on the street than you think you do. Please see them as people. I will never forget what it felt like to have someone's eyes slide right past me like I was invisible. "
"No one is expecting you alone to end homelessness, but you can give someone $10 for a laundromat or shower, or say hello."-AbolitionistCapybara
Why Is It Illegal To Have The System Fail You?
"I was homeless with my single mom at the age of 9. In the US it is basically illegal to be homeless but it is definitely illegal to be homeless and have a homeless kid."
"My mom was a great mom. We just hit a really rough patch in the 2008 financial crisis in the US causing my mom to lose her job."
"She could not get another one and we ended up living in her mini van. However she was always able to get me food and get me to school. I am not sure how she was able to keep our situation a secret but I was so ashamed of living in a car that I wasn't about to tell anyone about it."
"I think it is twisted that the government would rather place kids with strangers and give those strangers money to take care of the kid than to help that kids family find stability."
"Furthermore my boyfriend was in the foster system for a number of years and has a few horror stories from it. I feel lucky that I was homeless with my mother and that we were able to get out of that situation in comparison to what my boyfriend went through in his childhood living with abusive foster parents."-psychologicalfuntime
The bottom line is that homelessness is not the fault of the homeless. It is the fault of a system that criminalizes a lack of resources and support, especially in the USA, the wealthiest country in the world.
What would we gain by continuing to criticize and stigmatize homeless people across the country?
It's amazing what the legalities are from place to place. I live in New England, and in Connecticut, passengers are allowed to drink alcohol in the car, as long as they aren't driving. Weed isn't legal there, but open containers in the car? Totally fine. At least we have something to look forward to as we cross the border.
There are some truly strange laws depending on where you go. Here is a list of the weirdest ones.
Did you know that murder is allowed in certain instances, depending on where you go? Talk about scary.
I’m sure no one will test these laws.
Not sure how much of it is true. But apparently if the Swedes cross the border by walking over the ice given its frozen over, (which it hasn't in like more than 100 years) we are allowed to kill them.
The exact gates they have to be within are defined but I don't remember what they are.
Dying is illegal in France.Kate Mckinnon Snl GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
Oh boy. France has some history and a love of regulation. Perfect mix for absurd laws. Quick examples:
It's still technically mandatory to have hay at home in case the king's horse is nearby and needs some... Horses have been a pretty rare sight, let alone kings.
A mayor made it illegal to die in his town. The initial problem was an overcrowded cemetery, but he kinda reached the wrong solution.
This probably isn’t enforced anymore.
There is a medieval law here that has never been repealed: all males over the age of 14 are required by law to practice longbow for at least two hours per week.
Some of these laws are so silly, they make you wonder what event happened that put them in place.
I think everyone has done this.
"Forbidden to pee in the ocean". I live in Portugal.
'Like a piss in the ocean' is literally a euphemism for something not mattering. What's the problem?
Tigers are fine, though.film history GIF by DiggGiphy
It's illegal to bring a lion to the movies.
Somebody better have a conversation with MGM.
You can't carry a salmon suspiciously.
"No officer, I was going to eat it later"
"Seems suspicious you were carrying it around in public. I'm gonna have to take you in for questioning."
What is the backstory here?
It's illegal to sleep on top of a refrigerator outdoors here.
I know this is Pennsylvania, but I forget the exact reasoning, but I think it has something to do with homeless people.
These next few laws will definitely make you question these towns’ legitimacy when it comes to lawmaking.
Poor raccoons.raccoon stealing GIFGiphy
In Virginia, it's illegal to "hunt or kill any wild bird or wild animal, including any nuisance species" on Sundays. However, it is permissible to kill raccoons.
How the heck is this enforced?
I don't know if this is still a thing anymore, but in Texas it used to be illegal to own more than six dildos.
It's illegal to own any at all in Alabama unless the owner has a letter from a doctor claiming a legitimate medical need.
Granted, most of these laws were written a very long time ago. But it makes you wonder, what the heck were these original lawmakers doing? And what event happened that needed these laws to be enforced at all?
If some of these laws don't make you want to be a criminal, then I don't know what will