Your time in Iraq makes you a threat to society: Andrew Chambers at TEDxMarionCorrectionalSalon 2013

Your time in Iraq makes you a threat to society: Andrew Chambers at TEDxMarionCorrectionalSalon 2013


Translator: Angélica Zetina González
Reviewer: Elisabeth Buffard Soldier, attention! Sargent!
What makes the green grass grow? BLOOD, BLOOD,
RED BRIGHT BLOOD! What’s the spirit of the warrior? KILL, KILL, KILL WITHOUT MERCY! What are the two types
of people in this world? THE QUICK AND THE DEAD! What are you? THE QUICK! What are they? THE DEAD! Sargent, let me hear your war cry! AAAAAAAAAH! What you just saw
was a small part of the training I received while I was
in the United States Army. I joined just after September 11th. They train you to harness
a deep inner rage, a hidden rage. A rage that most people
don’t even know they have. In combat,
that rage can keep you alive. But at home,
that rage can kill you. Let me back up a second and
tell you why I joined the Army. Most of you can probably remember
where you were on September 11th. I will remember
for the rest of my life. I was working as a forklift operator,
just out of high school. I’m driving around
and everyone disappeared. I don’t know where anybody is. So I head up to
the front of the building, and everybody’s
around a small 13” TV. As I walk up, I watched the second plane
hit the Twin Towers. I knew at that moment
that I was gonna join the military. Before I made it to Iraq,
I spent about a year in Central America. It was beautiful. This is the upside to the Army.
You get to see the world. I spent about a year
bouncing around the jungles of Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras. I fell in love with the culture.
I got to see and try new things. I even got to swim in the Atlantic
and the Pacific in the same day without getting on an airplane. The good times didn’t last, though. In 2004, my unit received orders
to deploy to the Middle East in support of
operation “Iraqi Freedom”. We were gonna be stationed
in Tikrit, Iraq. It’s Saddam Hussein’s hometown,
right in the heart of the Sunni Triangle. About halfway through my tour,
we received orders to go to Fallujah. At the time, the insurgents controlled
the entire city of Fallujah, and we were sent in
to recapture the city. I was the third gunner
hanging at the top of a 50, hanging out at the top
of a humvee on a .50-cal. And I was gonna be the eyes
and the ears of the convoy. The drive from Tikrit to Fallujah
was only supposed to take about 10 hours even with the slow military vehicles. But the enemy had other plans. On the way down,
they started blowing up bridges and setting up ambushes along the way. We would redirect our path each time we’d come into a new contact
and after 36 hours, with non-stop combat no sleep and high stress,
your mind starts to play tricks on you. I started seeing things that aren’t there, start hearing things that aren’t there. You start to lose control of your rage. At some point,
the second night with no sleep, I must have fell asleep, dozed off,
the cool air rocking me to sleep, ’cause I woke to total chaos.
Gunfire. I remember hearing the AK-47 rounds
hitting aside the humvee just inches from my head:
“ting, ting, ting, ting”. I woke up, fear washed over me. I remember the pink glow of our PG shooting through the air
in every direction. Total chaos. Explosions all around me. I lit up
the .50-cal: “thump, thump, thump”, “thump, thump, thump,
thump, thump, thump”, moving from one target to the next. In the middle of all this chaos,
I could hear somebody laughing and I thought to myself, “who could be laughing
at a time like this?” And then I realized
it was me laughing. I felt like I was finally
losing control of that rage they taught me to harness. Come time to leave Iraq,
and they asked for volunteers to stay. They needed somebody to find
and neutralize the IEDs that were killing so many people. It wasn’t a decision
that I took lightly, but if I didn’t volunteer,
they were gonna pick people. And I wasn’t married,
I didn’t have kids, and I didn’t want them
to pick somebody with a family, so I volunteered
for a second tour. That second tour, we spent
3 or 4 vehicles to go out everyday. We’d drive about 10 mph down the road,
barely moving. We’d look at the side of the road,
trying to find the IEDs Improvised Explosive Device, and we’d wait for the road
to blow up on us. While in Iraq,
I lost 7 of my best friends. Sargent, attention! Right, face! Present, halt! Order, arms! Left, face! Forgive me. My transition home was difficult,
to say the least. I was paranoid, I carried
a pistol on me at all times. I assessed the threat level of every person or place
I came in contact with. Driving through my family’s neighborhood, I drove in the middle of the street, and feared the side of the road
was gonna blow up and kill me. On the outside, I looked like every other
21-year-old college student. I bought the newest clothes,
I played beer-pong, chased girls,
rooted for the Buckeyes. But inside,
there was something wrong. After a few months, my family
and friends convinced me that there’s something wrong
and I needed some help, I went to the VA,
walk-in mental health clinic, and I told them, You guys gotta help me.
I’m gonna hurt someone. I don’t want to. I carry a pistol
to protect myself, but I’m scared. They gave me a prescription for a
sleep aid, and sent me on my way told me to come back in 6 months.
I didn’t make it 6 months. Few months later,
I was down with some friends. We were drinking,
we’re having a good time. I’d been drinking every day
to deal with my issues. It’s hard to think of yourself
as an alcoholic when you’re playing beer pong, but… you’re drinking everyday,
you’re an alcoholic. We’re out, we’re having some drinks
and an argument erupted over a girl. Someone pulled out a knife, and I
snapped. I pulled out my pistol. The prosecutor said I moved
through the room in a tactical manner clearing the room,
laid everybody on the ground. I took the knife from him,
and I began beating him. And I beat him, and I beat him. A few days later I got arrested
for attempted murder and several other charges.
Some I did, some I didn’t do. When I went in for sentencing,
my judge told me, Mr. Chambers, your service
is a double-edged sword. Your time in Iraq makes you
a threat to society, and I have a civil obligation
to lock you up. I received 10 years,
and here I am today. Some of you that are familiar
with the TEDx format are probably waiting on my call to action. But you just did it. Find a veteran and
listen to his story. A lot of us just need
somebody to talk to. Sargent, attention! Sarge, it’s ok.
You’re home now, man. It’s over, you’re safe.
Welcome home. At ease. (Applause)

Comments

  1. Post
    Author
    Jay Thomas

    Police departments around the country encourages veterans to apply. All that rage from a BS war asked to police a nation that dont want us there. Often resulting in killing civilians. Watching your friends die. Enjoying watching your perceived enemy die. After 3 tours you are back stateside and join the police department looking for a new enemy

  2. Post
    Author
    Fuert Neigt

    We need to send more soldiers to kill people around the world. Kill them all because USA soldiers are heroes and we need to give them more health benifits for protecting the earth. It should be manditory all Americans join the military to kill other people in other countries, the volunteers shouldn't get all the free government benifits.

  3. Post
    Author
  4. Post
    Author
  5. Post
    Author
  6. Post
    Author
  7. Post
    Author
  8. Post
    Author
  9. Post
    Author
    yusef almutawakil

    The war never ends inside our minds,PTSD, is now my lifelong companion,always hypervigilent,stay alert stay alive,lack of sleep,the worst part is the love ones that shun you.all alone in a war that never ends .

  10. Post
    Author
  11. Post
    Author
  12. Post
    Author
    Gmail Account

    Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.
    So why go there ? Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11. So why go there ? Why not find out who did it ? 50 million people solved 9/11. Why did not you ?

  13. Post
    Author
    Zeek M

    Your time in the military whatsoever makes you a threat to society.
    The system is boobie trapped against veterans using the Chinese social rating system.
    If you're a veteran you can forget about being accepted by society, nobody wants to hire a baby killer.
    Welcome to Chinamerica where if you're a veteran you now need a means of escape. Society would also appreciate it if you were dead faster.

  14. Post
    Author
  15. Post
    Author
  16. Post
    Author
  17. Post
    Author
    Stefin Salvatore

    I know how you feel after I got back after 5 1/2 years in the army I got in a fight with 6 guys they called the cops on me and I get 10 year's cuz my training

  18. Post
    Author
  19. Post
    Author
    H Xen

    No… No. No. Something's way f*&ked up if they locked him up ten years. Please tell me I misunderstood. This is no criminal; but a wounded vet. His injuries you just don't see. As such he needed help and compassion. Lock him up for rehabilitation but not ten years. Again, please tell me I misunderstood that part!

  20. Post
    Author
  21. Post
    Author
  22. Post
    Author
    CHARLOTTESVILLE DEFEAT-GLOBAL-HOMO-KALERGI EUROPA

    WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME,
    WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME, WELCOME HOME

  23. Post
    Author
  24. Post
    Author
    M O

    I know and understand what he went through and having done my time in the middle east starting in 03 and ended early this year I finally realized how much it helps me to talk about things but I'm still guarded when I talk about my experiences and most of the time I only talk with fellow veterans because I have lost close friends and broken family relationships because of telling people that haven't experienced being in combat it makes them see you differently and not want to be around knowing what you have done to protect them. I have seen the worst things that man is capable of doing and at the same time the best that man is capable of. Like what my best friend since 03 did for me while we were working as PMC's in Afghanistan he stepped into the line of fire to shield and protect me and and died in my arms while I held him and we were able to have a shot conversation before he passed his last words to me were I'm sorry brother to leave you hanging like this but I have to go now I'll see you again sometime down the road I love you brother and I got to tell him I loved him and then that spark that makes us who we are left his body and my best friend Jack was gone

  25. Post
    Author
    incredulous kirk

    i'm late to this video, but i have to say that america needs MORE men like you, not fewer. andrew chambers = cast iron balls.

  26. Post
    Author
    Justin Smith

    This is why deployments should not be 18-24 months at a time. The human mind can only take some much, before it breaks. It’s much, much harder to but a broke mind back together, than to keep a mind from breaking in he first place.

  27. Post
    Author
  28. Post
    Author
    Vin Commons

    Chump there were no planes used at 9 11.
    Thermite, Directed energy weapons. And a couple of missiles thrown in for dramatic effect.

  29. Post
    Author
    gippygipmg

    The Warrior Spirit. Flipping the switch.
    Decompressing is very important.
    No. The laughter was the body releasing the stress.
    I still assess every person, building and choke point.

  30. Post
    Author
    captain crunch

    If they or anyone considers veterans a threat to socitey they are brain washed liberals. A veteran in this country should be viewed upon as an asset. The ONLY ones who should fear us are thoes who wish to tear appart our constitution and deniy us our rights. Our government trained us to do their bidding now their worried…good. They will try.. you watch… they will use us going to war as a reason to not trust us to possess a useful weapon such as any repeating one "ar 15" example. Why things are allowed to continue to go the way they are I'm not sure. But this country needs to get right.

  31. Post
    Author
  32. Post
    Author
  33. Post
    Author
    Daniel Anderson

    Supporting the troops doesn't only apply when they are on foreign soil. Something our government seems to have forgotten.

  34. Post
    Author
    Danny Stranahan

    So this young man saves the life of many people at a party from another man that is welding a knife but the good guy with a gun gets 10 years in prison and the bag guy with a knife nothing happens to him?

  35. Post
    Author
  36. Post
    Author
  37. Post
    Author
  38. Post
    Author
    R Shirley

    Sorry, but I disagree with his premise. I am former army infantry with two tours in Iraq as well. I saw just as much as this guy and have two Purple Hearts. You have to own your mistakes. Nobody made this man do anything. He committed the crime, he is responsible.

  39. Post
    Author
  40. Post
    Author
  41. Post
    Author
    Tie Collins

    Unfortunately, Andrew, though I am happy for you coming home, a lot of us didn't come home; we just came back. And just like what you went through in Iraq, there are a lot of us went through the horror of war and suffered the same damage that you have suffered. The difference is that there is a system that can help soldiers recover and lessen the effects of war; for the most part, society is ready to praise and help, but if you suffer the same effects of war and you are a civilian going to war, you remain invisible. You just don't exist and your suffering goes unattended. So much for loving your country and your country loving you back.

  42. Post
    Author
    Ab-Dhul Alif Qadr Muhammad

    I am aware of my RAGE; I am at peace with it (My RAGE) and it is not due to 11 September 2001, it is a long time (Life) in the making. I do empathize with you.

  43. Post
    Author
    Charles Balladares

    There is a room of women there. They can hear you but the closest they can come to understanding is about the same at you can understand their 9 months of pregnancy.
    Everyone is paranoid (highly alert) and carries a gun.

  44. Post
    Author
  45. Post
    Author
  46. Post
    Author
  47. Post
    Author
    Oldclimber Amb

    And where is the morality of NOW (the moment) in all of this ? With moral grounding, fitted to the environment for self survival, killing in Iraq is the environment, for Iraq. When "home", what is the environment ? Is it "kill or be killed" like in Iraq ? Hardly. The question is about the psychological adaptations required to be in Iraq and survive, and whether or not they can be shed when back. For him, and so many others, apparently not.

  48. Post
    Author
  49. Post
    Author
  50. Post
    Author
  51. Post
    Author
    Mr. Bullet

    Just got this on recommendations. Years to late.
    Every snide, judgemental comment here just shows how far apart we really are.
    Veterans, talk to each other. No one knows but veterans. Talk to a friend but make sure they understand. What comes out in talking usually shocks most people.
    VA? Joke.
    God Bless you Andrew.

  52. Post
    Author
    Coke Dogg

    Sounds like a college “tough guy” brought a knife to a gun fight and got taught a lesson more valuable than any course he enrolled in.
    Sad you did time. You should have gotten a medal.

  53. Post
    Author
  54. Post
    Author
  55. Post
    Author
    Peter McKenney

    Rule number one know who your f-ing with. Most soilders are on edge for awhile but a danger to society is a stretch. The people who scheme and plot against our constitution are a danger to society. Not Soldiers.

  56. Post
    Author
  57. Post
    Author
  58. Post
    Author
    george mcelroy

    Bankers, politicians, judges, and generals are a threat. They send the young to invade 3rd world countries for oil and resources. He joined up. I have nothing for him. He made a choice. No draft. And now Libya, Syria. Africa, Ukraine, Jordan, Afghanistan, and so on. USA ! USA! USA !

  59. Post
    Author
  60. Post
    Author
  61. Post
    Author
    Rob Rock

    Best Ted Talk I've ever watched.  Real.  Real. Real.  I only did one tour, in much easier circumstances in Afghanistan, but I do feel the experience sometimes tugging at the edges of my natural civility.  Best of luck Andrew, I hope your life is satisfying and gratifying now.

  62. Post
    Author
    Dixie Shuffler

    I trust OUR VETERANS before any effn polishitians. God Bless Our Veterans, EVERYONE!🇺🇲
    AMERICA IS ONLY AS GOOD AS WE TREAT OUR VETERANS!

  63. Post
    Author
    Xtreme survival Team

    I enjoyed ur video, but just cause out of Iraq doesnt mean society's safe.. I have almost been robbed once, and assaulted a couple times. ARMY training kept me alive.. don't let the va or society convince u that ur bad for being vigilant. Ur just more aware

  64. Post
    Author
  65. Post
    Author
    MickNJ1979

    I was in Iraq myself I can relate to this man I am a marine va wont help you the help you get is bs and the stuff you keep in books over it's sad we fought for America and when we came back america abandon us when we needed it most. Stay strong brother your not alone we are still with you.

  66. Post
    Author
    James Pennington

    I was in Iraq in 1991 when we was given orders and we began to prep everything for our mission. My stepson was apart of Iraqi freedom. He was shot twice and a close to an IED and it went off causing to send shrapnel in his direction. This enraged my son. He kept his fight and took down several insurgents. In the end when the smoke cleared he realised what happened and the wounds he received. He was losing blood fast. He was life flighted to his base of operations where he was stablized and then sent to Germany. He survived but we would later noticed he has changed and it was not good. He hardly talked about what happened. It wasn't till a year later he began to come out of his shell. He explained that some of the combatants was kids. No more then 13 or 14 years old. He always loved kids here at home and he even had 2 kids of his own. He had PTSD bad. He would get angry out of nothing. He is now homeless in LA California. We told him he should come home to Ohio. As we could help him better here. He refused mainly because his ex-wife had his kids and that he could not leave his kids behind. We send him money when we can. There are so many veterans living on the street not because it was their choice but because of the mental issues they go through from the war. We lost our son or at least the son we once knew before his tours in Iraq. 22 veterans on average take they're own life because of the mental pain of the war. There is a saying among us veterans. You can take the soldier out of the war but they can not take the war out of the soldier. This rains true to us all. They sacrificed so much and they deserve to access to get help but that they are over whelmed at the VA and they are in desperate need to get more counselors but there is not enough funds to hire more. Very sad that they gave so much and yet they come home damaged mentally but they realize they are not worthy to stay alive because they feel guilty from the men and women who was there and they're regret to the fact they are not allowed to join up with they're teams.

  67. Post
    Author
    C B

    30 years in the Army..never..not once…was I taught to hate or touch some hidden rage. i guess liars gon lie to make dat cash. what a schmuck.

  68. Post
    Author
    judotapout

    I worry about my son. He served in a Stryker brigade outs Washington at ft Lewis.. he joined at 17. Turned 18 in bootcamp, 4 months later he's in Baghdad Iraq.. he's not the same. He's snapping on people. Does strange things like wake up every hour or so n just sit in his car. Come back in ECT ECT. I know he's hurting, but he won't get help. Says he don't trust the VA or the meds they want him on. I don't know what to do to help him and it sucks….

  69. Post
    Author
    jeff knox

    Such is the life of a warrior. Be a weapon, be dangerous..enjoy it. Make sure to enjoy the soft things you fight for, this is the balance of a true warrior.

  70. Post
    Author
    markheartland2

    As far as I’m concerned, every contractor making a dime from these endless occupation wars should have to fund the healthcare of these returning vets. And it should be better care than any place in existence. While they’re at it, the politicians allowing these occupations should put into the coffer as well

  71. Post
    Author
    Lee Burkai

    There's that ONE question that nearly every Veteran gets asked: Did you kill anybody?….
    The answer is another question: What is it in you that makes you want to know?…..
    Pain is the source of rage. Don't fight the rage, that is an endless mission. Be brave, look directly into your pains and learn of a way to heal them. No shame.
    Lee Burkins, 5th Special Forces Group, MACV-SOG, author of 'Soldier's Heart: An Inquiry of War'

  72. Post
    Author
    silentum excubitor

    Andrew, I will NOT forgive you for crying, but I WILL FORGIVE you for asking to be forgiven….
    I hope now, 6 years later, you're doing well, and doing good….
    WELCOME HOME, Little Brother, welcome home….

  73. Post
    Author
    fw B

    Thank you so much for your courage. . I feel like you were protecting those people. I feel the judge was completely wrong. You neutralized a threat that could have damaged or worse to several people…

  74. Post
    Author
  75. Post
    Author
  76. Post
    Author
  77. Post
    Author
  78. Post
    Author
    Doug Billman

    They estimate…over one million innocent children died, because of us. Fighting Israel's wars, them and the rothchild bankers…we all…i mean world wide, the common person, like you and I…we don't want or need war…THE ONES, WHO WANT OR NEED WAR…THEY WANT AND NEED WAR…BECAUSE THESE LEADERS PROFIT, FROM AND OUR DEATHS…WE HAVE TO ALL QUIT JOINING THEIR ARMYS, NAVYS, AIR FORCES…BECAUSE WITHOUT US,TO FIGHT THEM, THERE WOULD BE NO MORE WARS…BECAUSE THESE LEADERS, WON'T FIGHT OR SEND THEIR KIDS TO WAR…BECAUSE THEY ARE A BUNCH OF SPINELESS LEACHES…WHO ARE SCARED OF THEIR OWN SHADOWS…

  79. Post
    Author
  80. Post
    Author
  81. Post
    Author
  82. Post
    Author
    Phillip Hutson

    As a disabled Vietnam Vet with PTSD, I can certainly relate to this.
    My advice to all y'all coming home fm war…..
    BE PROACTIVE WITH THE VA.
    GO EVERY DAY UNTIL YOU GET HELP.
    Don't be belligerent or violet. Make them give you the help you need. Be PROACTIVE, the way we were trained.
    Make them help you.
    God Bless you, Brothers and Sisters.
    PEACE

  83. Post
    Author
  84. Post
    Author
    Michael lear

    Same in the UK the government last year withdrew all funding from combat stress the military hospital because they say local NHS hospitals psychiatric departments are the best places to treat our vetrens.
    As a vetren myself and every vetren I've spoken with who have tried to get help with PTSD or other mental health problems at our local hospitals have all said the same thing. Its like our country hates us.
    Instead of helping us they just lock us up when we finally snap.
    The really upsetting thing is here in the UK our government has welcomed with open arms all those who have fought against our own soldiers with ISIS and your right our governments arnt worried about Islamic terrorists as they don't kill politicians there more worried about the vetrens getting together

  85. Post
    Author
    Adam Hartley

    Little late but Welcome home brother. Thank you for your service. I hope everything is getting better. Text back if you need a ear to listen ever

  86. Post
    Author
  87. Post
    Author
  88. Post
    Author
    MacGyver at large

    SGT Chambers, heartfelt gratitude for your service, I wish I was there with you.

    I had an Army GI on my truck, real bad flashbacks.
    I trained him as a truck driver.
    I found I had the knack to deal with his flashbacks, but, they would always come.
    Finally, as I saw him sizing up the threat level on a gator, or hunk of retread laying on the highway, I gave him some advice that I hope he took.
    He did while on my truck, of that I'm sure.
    That gator is not an IED, but it will do damage.
    Avoid it, it is not your problem. Move on.
    These people around you, as ungrateful as they are, are what you fought for.
    They are not the enemy, even though they might give you that impression.
    Never, ever, lose your battle mentality, you need it as a truck driver. Stay focused on your new battlefield.
    You are now issued new weapons.
    Use them.
    You are now a road warrior, not a killing machine.
    The job needs to get done.
    Different objective, new tactics.
    Good luck, soldier.

    Godspeed.

  89. Post
    Author
    Don Quihote

    I have nothing but contempt for that Judge and his words. He needs to be sent into combat and see how he does after. I have never been in combat myself, but, I was raised in the home of a combat vet. It is a long hard road.

  90. Post
    Author
    Oliver Campbell Smith

    THANK YOU. That was the most intelligent, emotional and brave sharing of what it means to go to war. Sorry you have had to suffer so much, but thank you. Bless you.

  91. Post
    Author
  92. Post
    Author
    David Goudy

    This sounds like the military used a kid, tossed him out, refused him help then locked him up for an exorbitant amount of time doing exactly what they taught him

  93. Post
    Author
    Tunc Ozbora

    We all know that at the end of each american's war, the number of murders rise about 10000 – 15000 more. How many murders usually in America ,each year ?
    25000 ?

  94. Post
    Author
    David Holderbee

    No one will ever understand the sacrifice made by this nations men and women. I isolate because I know my military service has damaged me. But I’d do it all again!

  95. Post
    Author
  96. Post
    Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *