Let me tell you a story. It's a story about my little sister.
My sister and I have always been extremely different. Two opposite corners of the Punnett Square in every regard. In fact, a lot of folks while we were growing up thought we only shared one parent due to the extreme physical differences.
I was (and am) tall, dark, thin. She was blonde and almond colored and built to beat asses. I was the Terror Child from Beyond Hell, and she was the perfect angel. I was angsty and introverted; she the social butterfly.
I knew when she was about thirteen that she was gay. I never said anything, but she came out to me explicitly years later. After I'd left the house, actually, and after she'd started making a lot of really bad choices with women and drugs and the law.
At some point, when my parents' pressure to do something besides get shitfaced and fuck all night became too great, she decided that she ought to follow in her dumbass older brother's footsteps and join the military. By some miracle, she got in with a couple of waivers for her drug convictions, and into a supposedly "safe" career field.
She got her shit together most ricky-tick. Top of her class in all of her training. Handpicked by some senior people to go to a unit with a very good reputation. Got sent to Afghanistan about thirty seconds after arriving at her brand new duty station.
What followed was an intense nightmare. As a qualified small arms expert (no small thanks to growing up with a father who was, among other things in his Marine Corps career, a small arms instructor) she drew convoy duty, sitting in turrets, planning routes, killing people when they got in the way, and getting blown up twice.
The first time "didn't count", she told me later with a wry grin and a twinkle, the first time I'd seen her in years. The second time, though, half of the occupants of the vehicle died when the MRAP rolled over, and she hit the collar where the turret mounts to the top of the vehicle so hard that it basically liquefied a chunk of flesh on her buttock and lower back, requiring large portions to be surgically excised to prevent putrefaction and gangrene.
She returned home after six months of desert Hell, and as a reward for her exemplary service was sent on a special temporary assignment to what would have been six weeks of paradise, if not for an incredibly dysfunctional set of dipshits in charge - a brand new officer who openly slept around with junior enlisted personnel in the detachment, and a power-mad junior NCO who targeted my sister for petty retribution when she rebuffed his advances.
After months of issues with her unit, harassment from several people in her chain of command, and clearly illegal nonjudicial punishment, she simply disappeared off the radar, not returning phonecalls or emails or Facebook messages.
She surfaced again some weeks later, telling my parents that she'd been targeted repeatedly for supposedly random urinalysis and had been segregated from her unit, forced to work in a separate facility by herself, denied leave without reason, and forced to perform work far beyond her level of training, mainly due to a couple of senior NCOs who didn't think women belonged in a man's career field, never you mind that it had been desegregated for decades.
So finally, my dad gets just pissed enough to do what he'd had to be restrained from doing so far; he called my sister's commanding officer. What followed was a bit much to handle, even by the standards of the narrative so far.
After a few rounds of returned calls, we learned that none of it had ever happened.
She went to Afghanistan, yes, but never left the safety of the largest base in the country. Never took enemy fire. Never even saw a convoy. This was perhaps the most devastating of the lies for my father, who laid awake almost every night for six months, terrified that she wouldn't come home.
During her TDY to paradise, she was written up several times for missing curfew, showing up to work drunk and out of uniform, and leaving work without permission. A far cry from the narrative she presented.
She had been separated from her unit due to ongoing investigations regarding her continued drug use while in uniform, and several reported incidents of her "sleeping around" with wives of servicemembers stationed with her - the first obviously illegal and not to mention irresponsible for someone involved in the kind of work she did, the second absolutely forbidden under military law.
All of this came out in a massive confession to my parents after the phonecalls my dad made. The facts that my sister was a wounded war hero and a victim of misbehaving officers were news to her command, who promptly summoned her for details. This caused her some amount of problems, I'm sure, and led to a confession to my parents about a week later.
She was discharged not too long ago, with a General discharge. Deduction from the verifiable details leads me to believe her command simply had enough of her bullshit and kicked her out.
Her piece of shit girlfriend got kicked out at the same time, for the same stuff. Her piece of shit girlfriend is worthy of a series of character studies all her own, and the amount of complete nonsense that has come from my sister's attachment to her would pad a novel to satisfy the deepest wells of schadenfreude.
We still don't know whether it was a "General (under honorable conditions)" or a "General (less than honorable)". If the former, she has a few years of hard work to try to convince a board to upgrade it. If she doesn't, or if it was the latter, she'll be ticking that little box on job applications, financial aid paperwork, background checks, lease applications, car notes, and just about everything else that says "Have you ever been discharged from the military with less than an Honorable?" - and she'll be facing a world of application denied and no thanks and just plain no way.
That's not to say it's anything less than her fault.
I'm still not sure exactly how I feel about any of this. Hell, I'm not even sure what I think about it yet. Disappointed to some extent, sure. A little angry, but not too much. I think probably just worn out, more than anything else.
She's yet to talk to me directly about any of it. In fact, I haven't heard from her directly at all since she moved back in with my parents. I've made it clear to my parents, who seem to want my advice about the whole thing, that I'm good for bail and a temporary place to crash, which at this point is all I honestly think I'm capable of offering with anything like goodwill.