Wednesday, May 17, 2017


     There's no need to adjust your television sets...all kidding aside I am back from a long hiatus and I normally write about military / veteran affairs. But this time I have decided to focus on a topic that has troubled my personal life for quite sometime now. By the end of this writing my goal is to have you understand my mindset and how powerful our minds are. Since my last blog on this site a lot in my life has changed but first we need to talk about what trauma actually is.

     Trauma is defined as, "A deeply distressing or disturbing experience - emotional shock following a stressful event or physical injury, which maybe associated with physical shock and sometimes leads to long term neurosis." Of course as a war veteran I've seen and experienced trauma before, but this trauma was much different it was almost psychological warfare and I was not prepared to fight this battle. Now this fight would consume nearly 3 years of my life and these are times and moments I cannot get back. As human beings we like to act like we are versatile enough to adapt to any situation but that isn't entirely true. Because sometimes our own weaknesses and hopes are used against us, while we are unaware of the events unfolding around us.

     Around May 17, 2014 I decided to enter my own personal black lodge - a personal hell where right and wrong ceased to exist. Now it's a very tempting place, dark and twisted but at the same time a very evil and cruel fun house where all your wants and desires can be fulfilled. But being in this places comes at cost; there is no version of the truth here, it is replaced with lies and distractions. The intent is to distract the mind long enough that it all becomes real and you cannot question what you are seeing. Eventually it all becomes self inflicted but at first you believe all the lies because we trust what we see with our eyes, but even our eyes lie to us.

     There's a quote from Winston Churchill that I wish I would have known about back then, "When you're going through hell you have to keep going." For nearly 3 years I stayed in this personal hell of mine and I lingered and watched this cruelty slow dance its way across my mind. I do know that I willingly chose to enter this place, I had a moment of clarity and I walked away. But no more than 200 feet and I was fully pulled in by one simple lie. I call it my own personal black lodge because that day in 2014 I knew something was off but instead I walked in willingly and stayed.

(Pictured below is where I chose to enter this hell; first I was sitting on the concrete with a hot fudge shake. By the time I walked to that tree I was fully engulfed into this personal hell, my gut wanted me to leave but my black lodge just pulled me in deeper.)

     Self inflicted trauma is very hard to stomach because it is much easier to blame someone else or something else for our problems. In this moment I know why I gave in to this personal hell, it's because I was given everything I ever wanted and sought out for. It felt pure and new but it was all a mirage, I thought it was everything I had been searching for - at times it was perfection, especially in 2014. The signs were all around me and I ignored them, I was enjoying myself and it was the most enjoyment I had in very long time. It was like drinking the finest wine while not realizing that you're being poisoned. So once inside this black lodge I was completely hooked on her, I couldn't get enough and it was intoxicating.

     I've spent about a year now trying to understand why this disturbing event happened to me, I focused on all the wrong things. I was obsessed with needing to know why and constantly searching for the truth. But I was stuck in a place where there was no truth to be given, even the lies had lies and were all based on other lies. That's the trick of this personal hell; it would do whatever it could to keep you there and sometimes it barred me from leaving with the use of little emotional tricks. Always willing to give just enough to keep me around and keep me wanting more.

     I do accept the role I personally played on walking into this personal hell, it was my choice and my fault. I became willfully ignorant of the evidence around me. By the end of 2015 I believed I was doing the right things, I had switched careers and thought the path forward was crystal clear. Just find a girl, settle down and get married; ah but there's the rub - that personal hell played the long con game. I couldn't see that I had been played since day one, the black lodge kept me from seeing what was really there. Once I could see past the darkness and peek through the keyhole to the real world it was way too late.

     The damage was done and the red curtains lifted to show a very different world and landscape. This became a point of no return - a black abyss enticing me to jump in and take the fall. My toes were completely over the edge but before taking that fall the logical side of my brain kicked into over-drive and we began to deconstruct our personal hell and the woman. Traumatic incidents are a funny thing, our friends and families cannot always see the damage and scars it leaves on us. It messes with our interaction with the real world and the ability to think logically. Even when we know we are seeing and hearing lies our emotional side wants us to believe that no one is that cruel. But all you need is that one glimmer of real hope. As human beings we can do anything if we put our minds to it.

     Traumatic events like this do not define us but we must learn from them and use them as a learning experience for the rest of our lives. I spent way too much time in this personal hell and my battle scars are deep from it, but I am a better man for surviving this. Not too long ago another interesting incident happened with this traumatic event, I am going to share that interaction.

I remember driving and I arrived at my destination, it was a house with a bit of yard next to it. I pulled into the driveway and stepped out of my car a bit unsure of where I actually was. As I walked up the driveway I noticed a group of people playing football in the backyard. At first I didn't recognize anyone and the people playing hadn't yet noticed me. Until I saw him...

I cupped my hands and yelled out his name, everyone immediately looked my way and the man looked puzzled but began to jog my way, while everyone else resumed playing football. As he came closer this wave of fear came over me, a feeling that I hadn't felt since my first deployment to Iraq. Now the man is in front of me and he looks even more puzzled, I ask.

"Do you know who I am?"

He responded with a solid, "No I'm sorry I don't know who you are."

I sighed, it was a slight relief but I also began to feel a mountain of pressure on my shoulders, I took a deep breath and decided to tell him everything, from beginning to end, all of it. It's all a bit of a blur now but I started out by saying, "This isn't meant to hurt you and I know it will, you need to hear the truth though." I went on to explain all of 2014 and how that led up to 2017 - all of the events that transpired and how it related to this man.

As I continued through all of the events, he stood there frozen - he looked shell shocked but he never interrupted. The beginning to the end and the worst of it, finding out about him and how that weighed on me. I apologized once more when I finished and told him that I never intended for any of this to happen. For a moment which felt like an eternity, he just stood there and I figured he was going to lash out at me. After sometime had passed he began to speak.

"I figured something like this had happened."

He still looked shell shocked and honestly I would be too if someone had just brought my life crashing down. I didn't know what to say next and he kept his composure but if it was me I would want to know the details. I apologized once more, I never imagined this happening and for some reason like an idiot I stuck my hand out to shake his hand. Instead he hugged me and said, "This is no longer your burden, it is now mine to bare." I was speechless by that.

I turned to walk back to my car and about 5 feet into my walk he said, "I appreciate you telling me this. I know it must have been hard for you too." He then turned and walked back towards the house and his friends, I started my car and drove away; but the look in his eyes stuck with me, it was a sadness I knew all to well. While driving away I let everything out, all of it; everything that brought me to this point. I thought about this incident for the rest of the day. I think the universe has a strange way of balancing out and correcting itself.

     So here I am 3 years later, 3 years older and battle tested having survived the black lodge. That incident which was about a month ago now, fully pulled me out of this personal hell I had been living due to not only my own choices but those of another person as well. I have now picked myself up, tended my wounds and as I depart this black lodge. I straighten my tie and sport a devilish grin while Jack White lyrics play in my head.

"Sleeping with a snake like you ripped apart my soul."

     There is no looking back and I will not let my time in hell define my future any longer. The scars from this will always be with me but with time they will fade even from my view. I will no longer be waiting or looking backwards.




Happy Three Year Anniversary 

Monday, January 25, 2016

The P.T.S.D. Issue Revisited

Recently a former politician brought up the issue of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and how that was the excuse given to dismiss their sons abuse charge from the police. I am going to leave the politics out of this for the moment and try to discuss the actual ramifications of PTSD and how it interacts with our service members (by the way anyone can get PTSD, I'm just focusing on the military side of it for the time being.) Now the way this former politician went about discussing PTSD was not only wrong, it was to score cheap political points when so many that have served this nation suffer greatly from PTSD. It is easy to blame the current administration and it is also easy to claim that this administration has helped greatly to fund and give care to those who suffer from PTSD.

Instead lets start with this statement; all administrations since 1930 are to blame for the failures of the Veterans Administration, now some have been better than others and did amazing things. But ultimately this disorder has always existed during WWI & WWII it was labeled as shell shock. During wartime the country pats the backs of soldiers at every turn but once those wars stop or the public becomes uninterested the pressure to care for those vets from the public's perspective disappears. The public at large believes it's pro-veteran but it's easy to get someone to say they support the troops, it's much harder to convince those people to raise taxes to pay for the care or push for sweeping mental health reforms. I am also not saying that the VA doesn't share the blame either, but to make serious reforms their needs to be pressure at all times not just when the next war kicks off. We choose to overspend on the defense department, as a society we've chosen to ignore the costs of war and the damage it has done to our veterans.

Why am I bringing this issue up now? I'm coming up on the ten year mark from when I went back to Iraq and nearly spent all of 2006 there. I remember the depression, the anger and the feelings of hopelessness, I remember not having anyone to go to about my deployments and not knowing how to process everything that happened to me during that year. I remember breaking down in Iraq and balling my eyes out in the back of a shipping container because I had no outlet for the stress and let it all build up inside me. Everyone deals with PTSD differently but it is not an excuse to do terrible things or hurt other people. It was left untreated and wasn't talked about by those who were in the service because of the fear of getting kicked out at the time.

This issue is very close to my heart and fortunately for me I wrote about my feelings and time in Iraq, unfortunately those entries are lost forever and I wish I would have never deleted them when I left active duty. But as I've told other veterans you just can't sit back and expect anyone else to do the heavy lifting for you, you need to make the first step of talking to someone (a friend, a stranger, a therapist) or writing in a journal and getting those feelings off your mind. To some PTSD can be just as damaging as losing a limb and that isn't the veterans fault, we need to remind ourselves that these human beings were broken and never given the chance to be healed. Many veterans abused substances like drugs and alcohol, others hurt those around them and unfortunately a large number committed suicide.

Ten years later I can say that I survived over 500 days in Iraq, I can say that I served my country honorably and that I met numerous amazing service members who put their lives and minds on the line. I honestly don't miss those days in the war and I sure as hell don't miss the feelings I felt while in a hostile environment. But if I could talk to that 20 year old kid I'd tell him that there is hope and that finding someone to open up to would be the best thing in the world and is the best thing in the world, I am still learning to open up but I think I'm finally going in the right direction.

Now if anyone reading this needs help please contact these resources, you are never alone.
1 (800) 273-8255 - Suicide Prevention Line

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Continued White Washing of the Iraq War

Due to the GOP clown car that is currently being loaded and gassed up for the 2016 Presidential run some very interesting questions have already been asked of these "candidates." The most important of which being, "Knowing what you know now, would you still invade Iraq?" From my perspective the answer should be quite easy...





Instead Jeb Bush came running and said YES! It wasn't about knowing what we knew then (which was all bullshit anyway, sorry Judy you don't get to play the bad INTEL card.) It was about knowing what we know now, the cherry picked intelligence from the Bush administration and the lie of weapons of mass destruction. Hell even using 9/11 as a justification to invade a country that had nothing to do with the attack or even the terrorists. But after some scrutiny in the media Jeb Bush flip flopped and changed his mind, this still doesn't change the fact that these fools; deep down still think it was a grand idea to invade Iraq.

George W. says that he still thinks about invading Iraq and that the decision still continues to weigh on him, I highly doubt that. I would give him more credit if he would have pulled a Lyndon B. Johnson and left the White House crying saying, "I got those young boys killed in Iraq." Instead he left the White House as the worst President in generations with 4,000 dead American tax payers, a trillion dollars wasted in Iraq, billions of dollars still unaccounted for due to American contractors who fled without finishing their jobs and hundreds of thousand dead Iraqi civilians, plus the thousands of soldiers who survived and suffer from PTSD who still do not receive proper care.

The reason I am bringing all of this up is because certain folks in the media and 95% of the current republican party is beating the drum for war in Iraq once more. The threat of ISIS has them shitting all over themselves with anticipation that we will some how go back to war in Iraq with a full frontal ground assault. These people act as if ISIS was just created yesterday, that the 30,000 just appeared because the Obama administration pulled us out of the hell hole that was Iraq. A little history lesson perhaps, ISIS is a direct result of the Bush administration refusing to incorporate the standing military and police force that was in Iraq in 2003. Instead they were told to go take a hike and get lost or get killed, the Bush administration had grand ideas of creating a new military (with American money) and police force that would help enforce the new parliamentary style democracy that would shape the new country. Instead it backfired in our faces and now we watch as ISIS steamrolls over Iraqi towns, destroys historical sites and religious sites.

People like Lindsey Graham and Joni Ernst think that the U.S. military hasn't been put through enough in the last decade and they claim that these young soldiers are just itching to go back into Iraq. More bullshit from republicans who voted against any reform for the VA, voted against veteran job bills and refuse to do anything about PTSD treatment. I'll say the U.S. servicemen and women have been through enough over the last 12 years. These hawks that want war at any cost fail to understand that the country needs to replenish its military with volunteers, there is no draft and there sure as hell wont be a draft for another middle eastern war.

The media isn't innocent in this either, they do not challenge these idiotic statements or use the fact checking that is easily accessible. They let these politicians come on their Sunday or daily talk shows and drone on about how ISIS is a danger to the U.S. and how we should be fighting them over there. The media fails to bring up the fact that alliances with ISIS seem to be changing on a daily basis so when someone like John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocate for giving rebels arms, who are these mysterious rebels? How come the media isn't asking these Senators why they aren't imploring the other middle eastern states to get involved and stop this extremism?

It all comes back to the fact that as a society we have already forgotten what we put this country through from 2003-2010. We have forgotten the toll it has taken on our veterans and the failure we have given them because we cannot care for them. People claim to thank veterans for their service but they don't actually want to thank them, that would mean raising taxes to fund for mental health and helping those of us who served in these wars to get decent paying jobs. Instead a generation of soldiers are broken just like they were in Vietnam, we will be forgotten; just like those Vietnam and Korean War vets are forgotten. Instead we have a Department of Defense that spent millions of dollars to get sports teams to honor hometown vets and that is the most disgusting use of propaganda. When that money could have been used to help vets with PTSD get actual help; instead of getting pills thrown in their faces, or it could have went to help post 9/11 vets secure meaningful jobs or homes.

I'm afraid that there aren't enough veterans who would stand up against these clowns in the media and those in congress who seek to erase the serious struggles the Iraq invasion placed on our soldiers. I'm afraid that the revisionists will win because the public doesn't care, they just want to shake your hand at a parade and think they've done their good deeds. I'm afraid that our country will be thrown into never ending war because there will always be some boogie man in some far distant place. I'm afraid that while we let those who pound the drums for war the loudest that we are missing the small attacks that happen daily through the Internet. I'm afraid that my service to my country will end up being meaningless because I could not do enough to stop these fools from embarking on another middle eastern war and damaging another generation of volunteer soldiers. I'm afraid that the PTSD is the new norm with the military and that those who run DOD think that they do not have to fix those that became broken. I'm ultimately afraid that these politicians will convince the public once more that another dangerous and foolish war needs to be had, when we can't even care for those who served in the last 12 years.  

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cotton Eyed Tom And His Merry Band of 47 Assholes

It has recently come out that Tom Cotton a recently elected Republican from Arkansas (full disclosure I spent my active duty career in Little Rock.) Has decided to write a letter to the Iranian government warning them that any deal with the Executive branch could be null and void at any time. Now normally one letter from one man wouldn't be such a big deal but since nearly half the U.S. Senate decided to sign on to this letter, it's become quite absurd. Never in the history of our country have we had another branch of government write a foreign government and advise them to not work with a sitting President. Also might I add a government that has been an adversary of ours for quite some time.

I get it, really Obama derangement syndrome is a serious disorder and for people like Tom Cotton it's more important that treating PTSD, the homeless veteran crisis or the post 9/11 veteran suicide rate that continues to skyrocket.  It's funny that Tom Cotton who is a veteran, thinks that another middle eastern war is the way to go, I mean maybe he didn't experience what I did, but if I was in his position as a veteran I would do everything in my power to avoid war. I guess it was more important to meet with defense contractors immediately after writing that letter, just to prove how 'Murican he is. As a society we have become obsessed with war and killing each other, though military recruitment rates have been down for nearly ten years, it hasn't stopped those who continue to beat the drum for more war. He'll republicans couldn't even pass a veterans jobs bill just because President Obama wanted it. We clearly are living in the Twilight Zone.

All over social media they've been calling these 47 members of the Senate traitors, all I know is that it has never been done before in American history. To undermine foreign policy just because you can't win a presidential election just shows how far these tea baggers will go. I find it extremely insulting because it just shows how much of a moron Tom Cotton is, I mean hell maybe he just doesn't understand the chain of command. Or better yet I can guarantee that the man probably has no grasp of civics or how government actually works, that's what the tea party does; they push out candidates who have no clue how government works and expect them to cripple for their backers special interests.

Tom Cotton should be using his status as a veteran to help the rest of us, he should be screaming to his colleagues in the republican party that the needs of veterans outweigh the needs of special interests of chicken hawks. Veterans are poor, jobless and killing themselves all while Cotton Eyed Tom writes his letter pushing for more war and making veterans reform that much more unattainable. It's not easy being a war veteran and Tom Cottons letter and meeting with defense contractors is a slap in the face to all of that have sacrificed our time, family, friends, interests and ultimately lives serving this nation. War needs to be the last resort not the first one and then try to use diplomacy afterwards, and if you still cannot be swayed to use diplomacy first; please just try to remember what it was like to serve during the Iraq War.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Missouri Compromise

I know I'm late to the commentary on what is happening in Ferguson, Missouri but I still cant help but focus on how police departments all across America have become increasingly militarized. But before I jump into that, lets talk about Missouri and why racial tensions there are the way they currently are. If you ask most people what the Missouri Compromise of 1850 is, they will probably know very few details about it. In fact the compromise would directly impact the civil war and some would say it was the catalyst that started the war.

The Missouri Compromise of 1850 established ground rules for new states to be entered into the union, with every slave state a free state had to enter in with it. This would keep the balance in check until 1860 when all hell would break lose, essentially the Compromise was kicking the can down the road to appease those southern states and avoid any uprisings or problems within the government. This mentality led to the deadliest war in US history and to this day southern apologists still claim that it was a states right issue. It was not!

Now why does this play into affect with what is going on today? Well after the civil war had ended Lincoln decided that he would accept the south back with open arms and no retaliation to the states, except Lincoln would be assassinated and reconstruction would never go the way of his plans, the men after him decided to punish the south and still withhold any help to modernize the south. The southern states and some of the northern ones too decided to create Jim Crow laws to keep black Americans in check and hold them down once again. These laws would disenfranchise blacks to the point that they would be extremely limited in their ability to join and succeed in society.

The civil rights movement would once again strike anger into southern whites because they believed that separate but equal was fair and that mixing within the races was bad. Even though it was complete bullshit it existed until 1954 and finally schools would start to become integrated. Many would have you believe that the civil rights movement of the 1960's solved all of our racial problems, but that isn't true. Yes it helped end Jim Crow laws and segregation but as one thing ends another begins. The war on drugs that started in the 1980's focused primarily on black Americans drug use, while ignoring the same amount of use in white Americans.

Inner cities all across this country have been ripped apart by de-industrialization, white flight and an attack on education by starving our schools of funding. Missouri is no different than any other state in the union now, we are rapidly seeing inner cities become increasingly poor and the residents happen to be minorities. This just didn't happen, it was systematic. State governments have allowed more white families access to school vouchers or the ability to send their kids to schools outside their districts. While Black and Hispanic Americans have had to play the lottery game of getting their kids into decent schools that are maintained.

States like Wisconsin have turned the voucher system into another tax break for wealthy families because now anyone can apply for vouchers, where as before you had to be in poverty to access the program. Not to be a pessimist here but of course you know the rich white families will get access to the vouchers first because their kids should be able to attend any school on the states dime, even if it happens to be a church school.

Missouri is in crisis mode and Gov Nixon is lost on what to do, African Americans have watched the system fail them at every turn for the last 30 plus years. White folks can get on TV all they want and talk about community and solving issues that way, but when have you ever heard northern white people talk about eliminating the KKK or biker gangs? When have you ever heard white folks talk about taking guns out of our communities or cleaning up the drugs that are used by whites? Its very rare, cities like Chicago and Detroit are put in the spot light because they are a majority of minorities and all white folks want to do is get on TV and point and say. "See, this is why we left!" Discrimination hasn't left America yet, those on the right that would have you believe that just because the country elected its first African American President that racial tensions and problems are gone. But they fail to highlight the onslaught of racism this President has faced, the 43 others never had to experience or deal with.

Missouri and America need to heal, we need to show our communities and inner cities that we can overcome and fix these problems. Racism and hate are taught, it is used to destroy communities because small minded people fail to understand how large this world is. Of course it is easier said than done, there needs to be trust within our communities once again. We need to repair our school system and to make it fair once again, not this reverse segregation because of white flight, we need to remove the militarization of the police departments and make them friendly occupants of our communities. We need to end the war on drugs and push for decriminalization and more funding for rehabilitation. We need to do these things because if we don't this problem will continue to get worse and the images of Missouri will continue to be seen in all inner cities across America. I cannot comprehend why people have fought so hard to destroy our once thriving inner cities, only to run to suburbs where the drug use and problems still exist.

PART 2 Tomorrow on Militarization of the Police

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day Memories

On this veterans day I wanted to share a story from 2006 when I had an encounter with one of my favorite authors. To set this up, you need to understand that I spent nearly the whole year in Iraq  and it became difficult to even enjoy the little things. In my career field I worked 7 days a week and 12 hours a day, some times we flew on missions and that broke up the monotony of doing the exact same thing every day. I believe that 2006 was the hardest year I have ever experienced as an adult, it wasn't a vacation it was hard work while being shot at or just dealing with the hostile environment. At some points co-workers did not make it any easier as well, but in fairness we were all stuck in the same boat so there really isn't a need to blame them because I'm pretty sure I acted like an asshole at times too.

My first encounter with Geoff Johns ( was around March 2006, I had been working the day shift which was usually 7am-7pm and in the early days of social media I sent him a message and to my surprise I received a response! Now at this moment I was ecstatic, the problem was I had no one to share it with. None of my co-workers or crew members were into comics and I was regularly teased for having comic backgrounds on my computer. So we had a short conversation about comics, where I was in Iraq (which I couldn't really tell him) and staying safe. Over the next few weeks and months we shared short conversations and again this really blew me away, now I was skeptical that this might not really be him but I didn't care it lightened up my day. But that would all be blown away when Mr. Johns attached some files of Infinite Crisis artwork that had not yet made its rounds in Previews or comic book media websites. He asked me not to send the pictures to anyone or post them in any forums, which I didn't do. I knew for sure that I was chatting with one of my favorite authors and this just made the first half of 2006 worth it for me.

By the end of May 2006, I was flying on missions and beginning to hear rumors that I was going to be sent back to the states sometime at the end of June. I figured I would try and repay Mr. Johns kindness and fly an American flag for him on one of the missions and either try to send it to him or deliver it in person at a comic book convention some day. After the mission I sent him a message informing him that I would like to send him something from Iraq, (I wasn't sure this was going to work or even if I would get a response for asking for his address.) He did respond with his address and when I returned to the states at the beginning of July I mailed him the flag with a certificate signed by all the crew members and information from the aircraft. Honestly I wasn't sure if I would ever get to meet the man, I did have plans in place to meet him in Chicago that August but due to a stateside mission to North Carolina, I could not attend or take leave. I was very disappointed but the worst would shortly come.

I found out right after a friends wedding that I would be returning to Iraq for the rest of 2006 and a portion of 2007, this put me in a very dark place. I couldn't understand why I was being sent back, I worked with other people who were mentally fit to deploy. All I was told was that I had the experience and that I really didn't have a choice in the matter. I had never experienced missing the holidays outside of the U.S. before, I know my family had a difficult time while me being gone but for me the trip continued to degrade and put me in a place that I had never experienced before. I have felt sadness and depression before but this time it was foreign to me, I had never been this upset and angry before in my adult life. The hate and anger I had for my co-workers in the states was something I had never before expressed towards them. I couldn't grasp why they had to send me back and on top of that Iraq was dealing with the failure of the surge and we were in prime position for all the shit they pushed out of Baghdad. To say the least I was nervous about what could happen and it didn't help that my sleep patterns were all fucked up and I began to deal with a slight case of insomnia. The work I was sent to Iraq for was the same nearly everyday, we didn't get to fly on missions any more due to a commander making that decision because of flight hours and pay.

I'm sure you are wondering how this all ties together with Geoff Johns and don't worry I promise we will get to that soon. In August I messaged Geoff and let him know that I could not meet with him in Chicago and that it would have to be another place and time. By September I was pretty much telling everyone that I was getting sent back to Iraq and I messaged Geoff and let him know that for the rest of the year I wouldn't be able to make it to any comic book convention due to being sent back to Iraq. Now I don't exactly remember when but Geoff messaged me sometime in early October asking for my address and at first I gave him my home address because I wasn't really sure why he was asking for it. After a few days he clarified and wanted my APO address in Iraq, so I gave it to him and didn't think anything of it. Mail usually takes anywhere from 2-4 weeks to arrive in the war and then it is delivered to our unit and distributed. So around Veterans Day 2006 I received a package from one G.Johns...

Before opening the box, I figured it was from my parents or friends sending me a care package; I happened to just look at who it was from and I looked over at one of my co-workers and said "Who the hell is G.Johns?!" It had totally slipped my mind and I forgot all about him asking for my address, when I opened the box I was completely stunned and immediately figured out that Geoff Johns sent me a box of comics (graphic novels and hardcovers) and they were signed to me. This blew me away and made me really happy, it also helped change my attitude and give me something to look back at; no matter how difficult my job became or dealing with lazy co-workers. My roommate that I was deployed with was also stunned by this, a person I had never met and didn't actually know me went out of his way to send me a box of comics. This is one of the brightest moments I had ever experienced while in the Active Duty Air Force. It is a story that I continue to tell because it is one of the coolest things that has ever happened to me. This gesture no matter how small it might have been, helped pull me out of a deep depression and just made me feel great. I know I wrote Geoff Johns a hand written letter at the time and I'm pretty sure my hand writing was terrible but I sincerely appreciate that he sent me that box. This day it is one of my most prized possessions, there is nothing in the world that can replace the feelings and joy this small box had brought me.

I wanted to tell this story because it is Veterans Day and there is a lot of negativity out there and I needed to write something positive. Tomorrow I can go back to writing about the veterans unemployment rate and the fact that it is really difficult to find work with the skills most of us veterans have from our time in the military. But for today I wanted to express gratitude and share how a person changed my life by just having an online conversation with me.

Cheers and Happy Veterans Day!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Tea Bag Shutdown : An Iraq War Veterans Perspective

     We are week into the first government shutdown of the 21st Century and I figured it would be good to write an article about how this shutdown is being misreported and misrepresented in the American media. The country is at standstill due to the tea party and its members that have been elected to office in the republican party, this is all self inflicted. It is easy to say this all could have been avoided but I'm not exactly sure that's true, the Citizens United case allowed so much money into American politics that these Tea Baggers began to Primary those who were not right enough or weren't vocal enough about how they disliked the sitting President.
     The shutdown is a bad idea and there is very little anyone outside the Republican party can do about it due to their crazy demands about ending the Affordable Care Act (which they called a failure before it was ever implemented, not sure how that works). So pretty much everything is shutdown, federal workers are furloughed but Active Duty military is still being paid because come on Republicans care so much about military members (unless your gay, homeless, unemployed or suffer from PTSD). A stunt some Republicans pulled last week was one where they took photo-ops with WWII vets who stormed some fences to get to their memorial for their honor flight stuff. Of course the media ate this up and acted like it was the Park Guards fault for putting up barricades and not having the monuments open. Then these tea party members or republicans went on to claim that this is all the Presidents fault because, 1. he wont meet their hostage demands and 2. Affordable Health Care is bad unless you are a former Republican Governor from Massachusetts or Bob Dole.
     What I find insane about all of this is that these tea party fools claim that President Obama is disgracing the "greatest generation" from seeing their WWII memorial, but in the same turn are shutting down the Federal Government and dancing in the street about it. While current vets are watching the VA and other administrations shut down, when they are needed most. Current post 9/11 veterans need help, the unemployment rate is higher than the national average and PTSD is a serious condition that can lead to suicides, severe depression and substance addiction. So the party that claims to love freedom and its troops so much decides to shut down the USG because folks will have a chance to buy health insurance from a marketplace.
     I have had enough of these tea baggers, three years is enough for anyone. They have bastardized Revolutionary War History and the history of our founding fathers. Personally I have lost friends and family over these issues, politically I am not ashamed to be a progressive liberal but the harassment that ensued post 2009 has led me to only seek out debates with those who I know can be civil. This shut down isn't civil, its a temper tantrum while claiming the other party wont compromise to the crazy hostage demands of the tea party. So to those tea party people I say we compromised enough, we gave up the single payer plan because Republicans complained so much during the health care debates. The President and the democrats compromised on the debt ceiling and the sequester, now they claim that was never enough; of course like the addict one you give in they are always going to want more.
     The tea party has taken us so far down the rabbit hole that ideas that used to be thought of as insane are now being seriously discussed by Republican members of Congress, like Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin claiming that crossing the debt ceiling will have little impact on the markets and may even stabilize the global marketplace. This is INSANE! The data and history all prove otherwise, the tea party likes to parrot the lie that this will stop all new spending out of the Obama Administration, but the debt ceiling has nothing to do with current spending; it all has to deal with our past bills and interest on those bills dating back to 1776!
     I find it utterly irresponsible of the American media to say that this is both parties fault, the tea party which is a minority within the Republican party which is in 1/3 of government does not have the right to hold all of us hostage just because they do not like the President of the U.S. The GOP is running scared, the polls show that Americans are highly against a government shut down over the Affordable Care Act and 2014 is only a few months away, primary or not those Republicans who voted to shut down the government are about to face some stiff resistance regardless of the amount of cash they may be given from Super PACs.
     This shutdown may last sometime due to the stranglehold the tea party has on the Republican party but for me this just shows how much tea baggers actually know about government and how harmful this will be to their constituents. October 17 may rock the global markets or send our country into a deep recession and if that happens I will make it a goal of mine to remind every tea bagger / republican what they did to us post 9/11 vets; they refused to pass the post 9/11 veterans jobs bills that the President wanted, they shut down the government and resources that veterans needed during a time when companies only like to say they hire vets but don't actually do it or they expect you to show up fully trained when most of us had jobs that do not relate to the business world. Above all these people will need to be reminded that these are self inflicted wounds, that the tea party chose to hurt all of us because they couldn't handle the results of the 2012 election.