Spooky season is in full swing, and with it, a surge of pumpkin spiced lattes, halloween costumes, and, of course, haunted houses.

While most of the latter are held in old warehouses and farms designed to frighten brazen teenagers, some really go the distance in daring to scare. Veterans, however, particularly those who have seen combat, are not always so easily spooked. After all, there are some things far more terrifying to this demographic than ghouls and goblins.

So, in the spirit of designing a haunted house for those who served, here are some items that might do the trick.

A room full of civilians saying, “Thank you for your service.”

With their saccharine yet near-sinister smiles, these civilians go out of their way to back a veteran into a corner and batter them with gratitude. The relentless sentiments are sure to send a shiver down the spine of any veteran.

Wet socks

Trench foot is a plague among troops. And though boot technology has come a long way since World War I, the blistery, soggy, swampy foot is a haunting experience none forget. The smell alone is enough to give veterans nightmares.

Veggie Omelette MRE

From out of the bag it comes, its harbinger an odor so malevolent. The gelatinous pile of goop bears similar consistency to the fearsome “Blob” of 1950s movie fame — wrapping its victims in constipation and heartburn.

Black mold from the barracks

From whence it comes, nobody seems to know. But it will swallow up a barracks whole. Like Black Death, it seeps into the walls, and into lungs this malice crawls. Yikes.

A government shutdown

Such imminent dread is the threat of government-sponsored destitution. To condemn heroes to hunger over political rancor — a true nightmare.


Those who have served in the desert fear this most — fine grains, creeping into every crevice. Like a vampire, once sand is let in, it will never leave.


What’s that sound, you say? No one else hears it? For the tinnitus-afflicted veteran, a sinister screech may drive one to insanity. It’s just them and the ringing, bleating on forever. Peace and quiet, no more.

Observation Post is the Military Times one-stop shop for all things off-duty. Stories may reflect author observations.

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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