This is a pretty powerful post by Dan Crimmins (aka /u/mopecore), a former American soldier who says he was deployed in “11B from 2002 to 2008. Iraq in 2005, then again in 2007-08, during the Surge. Both tours, we were at distant outposts, (Fob Wilson in 2005, PB Eagle, COP Cahill, and COP Carver in 2007-8)”.
You grew up wanting so bad to be Luke Skywalker, but you realize that you were basically a Stormtrooper, a faceless, nameless rifleman, carrying a spear for empire, and you start to accept the startlingly obvious truth that these are people like you.
His follow up post from a few days ago is also worth reading:
It didn’t occur to me, at the time, that maybe some of their grievances might be legitimate, that they were acting out of fear and a sense of powerlessness as much or than out of hatred. That I bought into the narrative without applying really any critical thought, by giving over to emotional outrage masquerading as righteousness, by assuming the cartoonish media that I consumed had any relation to the real world, I made a mistake, and people died because of it. I’m painfully aware of the man’s tendency towards tribalism, what you describe as the hivemind, the tendency to view everything as my team against your team.
He’s now unemployed, suffering from PTSD, and trying to raise some support funds via GoFundMe.