© Reuters / Kevin Lamarque
The US Army probably expected an influx of patriotic replies when it asked for testimonies about people's service. Instead, Twitter offered disturbing stories of debilitating injuries, mental health problems and suicide.

It all began with a a video of a soldier who told the camera he joined to serve "something greater than myself." The army, the featured soldier said, had given him the opportunity to "give to others" and better himself "as a man and a lawyer."

The Army then made the mistake of asking Twitter at large for their thoughts.

That was where the patriotism ended. The account was quickly inundated with responses from former service members and their families - and they make for some seriously disturbing reading.

From damaged mental health and suicide, friends lost to war, post-traumatic stress (PTSD), nightmares and life-changing injuries, almost none of the responses were positive.

"Three generations of emotional trauma and instability."

"...the 4th of July is a nightmare..."
"...omnipresent feeling that I've taken part in great evil and been truly duped."

"I can't pick up my kids from my back pain."

"I'm filled with rage at all times."

"Debilitating alcoholism."

For one former member, serving showed him "how f*cked up our system truly is" and guided him "down the path to socialism."

One commenter responded that he had "refused to fight in illegal wars for our empire," adding that judging by the rest of the replies, it seemed that he had "made the right choice."

Another sombre reply came from a user who asked the army to read the replies and then consider whether there was any "good reason" for the US to go to war with Iran.

...while other users just pointed out that the Twitter exercise hadn't exactly gone as planned.