Army veteran Andrew Chambers recently shared the story of how he was sentenced to ten years in prison after a judge allegedly told him that his service in the Iraq war makes him a “threat to society.” Video of his speech from prison for TEDxMarionCorrectional’s TEDxTalks is now going viral after being posted on Oct. 31.
After explaining that he decided to join the Army following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Chambers talked about the positive side of joining the U.S. military — traveling the world and experiencing different cultures. He was deployed to Iraq in 2004 after spending a year in Central America.
However, his experience in the devastated country took its toll. Chambers told his audience about the time he was working as a turret gunner on the top of a Humvee when gunfire erupted. He said he heard someone laughing and remembers asking himself, “who could be laughing at a time like this?”
As it turns out, it was he who was laughing.
“I felt like I was finally loosing control of that rage they (the military) taught me to harness,” Chambers said.
Things didn’t get much better when he returned home either. The Army veteran said he remained “paranoid,” always carried a pistol on him and “assessed the threat level of every person and place I came into contact with.” He also explained that he drove in the middle of the street because he feared the side of the street was going to blow up and kill him.
After seeking help from the Veterans Affairs (VA) Mental Health Clinic, Chambers was reportedly given a prescription sleeping aid, despite telling doctors he was afraid he was going to end up hurting someone.
Chambers’ problems culminated when he pulled his pistol on someone after a knife was drawn during a night out drinking. He says he made sure everyone was on the ground then took the knife from the man and “beat him.”
He was later arrested for attempted murder and other criminal charges, some of which he denies committing.
He said he’ll never forget what the judge said to him during his sentencing:
“Mr. Chambers, you’re 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.”
He got 10 years in prison.
Towards the end of the video, Chambers pleas with his audience to find a veteran and talk to them.
“A lot of us just need someone to talk to,” he said.
Watch Chambers’ inspirational talk below: