Freedom Isn't Free

Freedom Isn't Free

17 December 2014

Command and Signal

   Command and Signal.  Every single order prepared by the U.S. Army addresses Command and Signal.  How will an order be carried out? What are the radio frequencies (freqs) that will be used?  Call signs by unit?  All of that is addressed under Command and Signal in an Operations Order.  Later on during this post I will give you the freqs to use.  It's not a full Op Order, but I don't know if anything can be done now and I'm tired of waiting.  As we have all heard so often in the media (and I'm paraphrasing here) lives matter.  Lately, we've heard that only one ethnic groups' lives matter.  Well, I believe all lives matter.  If we have to get specific then #VeteransLivesMatter. 
   Earlier this week, the Clay Hunt SAV Act was blocked from passing through the U.S. Senate by Sen. Tom Coburn.  Sen. Coburn is a longtime watcher of the Federal government's budget.  He is also retiring after this session of Congress ends.  He is also dead wrong.  I could really care about political parties when it comes to how our #Veterans and our #Military is treated.  I, myself am conservative in almost all my views.  This has nothing whatsoever to do with politics.  This has nothing to do about a budget that no politician seems to be able to get right.  The money involved in the Clay Hunt SAV Act amounted to 22 million.  Does anything about that number seem to ring a bell?  Maybe the number 22.  22 Veterans commit suicide every single freaking day.  Every day.  I know 2 of my Brothers-in-Arms who have committed suicide.  It is estimated that if the Clay Hunt Bill doesn't pass until the new Congress starts in 2015 that 1,980 Veterans will have died (needlessly) by their own hands.  I have posted about this before in A Tough Post.  I have asked what would the world do if 22 celebrities committed suicide in a day, how big would the outcry be?  I want you to read that post again.  More importantly, if you know a Veteran who is in a bad place right now, during this Christmas season, please call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Or you can visit the Veterans Crisis Line here.  Apparently, the politicians DO NOT CARE!  We Veterans have to help each other. Just like on the battlefield.  Just like on the confidence course.  Just like in the barracks. 
   How do I know the politicians don't give a damn?  I've tried to call both of my senators.  I couldn't even talk to a living breathing person to find out if Clay Hunt has a chance yet of passing in this Congress, in this year.  I had to leave a voice mail both times.  So, I figured neither one of them (Pat Toomey, Bobby Casey) have served an hour in the military.  Why not get in touch with a senator who has served.  Well, John McCain came to mind.  A decorated war hero.  A former Prisoner of War.  I actually campaigned for McCain when he ran for president.  So, I called his office.  I can't even leave a damn voice mail.  The mail box is full! So, yeah, if my grammer isn't correct, if it seems like I'm rambling, I AM!  I am pissed off!  Through out the time I have been writing this blog, I have learned and I have even espoused that politicians won't do anything until you get in touch with them and hold their feet to the fire.  Make them know how you feel.  I've said it before and I'll probably say it again.  That is, of course, unless its almost Christmas time and it seems all of the politicians and their staffers really don't give a care.  Not even enough to go through the messages in a voice mail box!
   Earlier, I said I would provide the freqs, the signals to reach out and contact someone.  Well, here they are.  The phone number for every U.S. Senator.  Call them.  Even if you just call your senators.  Call them.  Every day.  Because every day 22 Veterans commit suicide.  Because every day that the Clay Hunt bill isn't passed and signed by the President is another day of wasted lives ending.  I will call them every single day until it is passed.  The last day of Hannukah, Hey, hope you enjoyed the season of lights, pass the Clay Hunt SAV Act.  Christmas day, Hey Merry Christmas senator, pass the Clay Hunt Bill.  New Year's Eve, Have a happy New Year, after you pass the Clay Hunt bill.  They day the new Congress starts, Hey Congrats on winning a political race and landing in a cushy job in our nation's capitol.  Now pass the damn Clay Hunt bill!   So call.  And call again.  And every time that you can, use #VeteransLivesMatter when you are on social media. 
   As a matter of fact, tonight 17 December 2014, at 2000 hrs EST (* p.m. East Coast time) Lets launch a twitter storm.  Tweet about Veteran suicide.  Veteran Homelessness.  Use #VeteransLivesMatter in all your tweets.  Do I care if it trends? Not really.  I just want to get the message out.  I have a readership per post of a little under a thousand views.  So I'm not setting the world on fire in social media.  I don't care about setting the social media world on fire.  I care if I can save 1 Veteran's life.  I care if I can get 1 Veteran under a roof.  I care if I can help to get 1 Veteran seen by a VA doctor in a reasonable amount of time.  I care about getting 1 Veteran suffering with PTSD the help he needs.  There are a lot of us who want this.  I'm just adding my voice.  And I will add that voice to senate voice mails every day.  If I get a response from either of my senators I will let you all know.  I'm not holding my breath.  Not even while I dial another senator's phone number.
That is all.
But that's not all.  The name of the bill( unanimously passed by the House of Representatives) is the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act.  This is Clay Hunt

01 December 2014

Warning Order

   Warning Order.  In the military, that is a preliminary decree that your unit is about to do something.  It could be a movement to another station.  It could be your unit is about to participate in an offensive campaign that involves dozens or even hundreds of other units.  Small or big, a warning order is issued to notify the unit to prepare for something.  In this case, its my small effort to help out other Veterans. 
     This post has been a long time in coming.  It has taken me time to actually get the ball rolling.  I'm going to try and help out a Veterans' homeless shelter in my area.  It has taken me weeks to track down who to get in contact about the homeless shelter which is specifically for Veterans who are homeless.  I'm now able to say I am have a contact number.  The shelter is not run by the VA or any government agency.  It's run by a local religious charity.  Up until now I didn't know that charities had about as much red tape as governmental entities.  Now, I do.
     This all started from the post on Veterans Day from @OldMarine1that I referenced in my last post.  The more I thought about it, the more I knew I could do something to help my Brothers and Sisters-In-Arms.  Maybe it's going to be something as simple as providing them with shampoo, toothpaste, etc when they arrive at the shelter.  I know next year I am already planning on a clothing drive for the shelter (one has already been done this year.).  Whatever it is, this is something that any of us can do.  Even if its volunteering at a Veterans homeless shelter, we can all donate some time or money or effort to our Veterans.

     Stats don't lie.  According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans, on any given night there are almost 50,000 homeless Veterans all across our country.  They include Veterans of World War II through our current war in Afghanistan.  According to NCHV's statistics, a large number of Veterans that are homeless or at-risk also suffer from PTSD.  That's no surprise as PTSD is the invisible wound that almost all of our Veterans, homeless or not, have. 
     The NCHV also states community based nonprofit organizations are leading the way when it comes to caring for the Veteran homeless.  I can't say I'm surprised, as the VA is still mishandling their homeless efforts. 
     The bottom line is simple.  We all have to do something to help our Veterans.  Since my first blog post I've said Veterans have to take care of Veterans.  You don't leave someone on the battlefield and you don't leave someone on a street corner.  The VA still has to make improvements.  More has to be done in the area of treating PTSD.  It is up to Veterans and those who care about Veterans to do it.  Plain and simple.  The word has to get out about Veterans issues.  PTSD, Veteran homelessness, and the continuing VA scandal (all areas of the VA need to be fixed-the VA hospitals are just one of the heads of the bureaucratic hydra that is failing our Vets). 
     I hope to give you another progress update soon.  As always, if you are a Veteran in a bad place, or if you know a Veteran in crisis, call 1-800-273-8255 or click this link for the Veteran Crisis Line.
That is all.

10 November 2014

All the way

Happy Birthday Leathernecks! On the date that this is posted, 10 November 2014, it is the 239th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.  No, I am not a Marine, but I respect the hell out of them.  During my time in the PA Army National Guard, I have been trained by numerous former Marines and I know that they are among the best trained military personnel in the world.  To put Marines in perspective with the other armed forces in the U.S., you have to understand the size of the situation you are looking at.  The Army is divided into Corps.  I Corps is one area, II corps another, and so on.  Yet, there is only one Marine Corps.  And the Marine Corps is in their mission, all the way.
   Basically, when you are a Marine, you are a rifleman.  You can be a computer tech, a helicopter pilot, etc. in the USMC but you are first and foremost, a rifleman.  They have been called jarheads but I prefer devil dogs and leathernecks.  From Bobby Fuller, who taught me about anti armor weapons when I was a TOW rat, to Ben Chamberlain, who taught me about reading a map and not getting lost, to a friend's son named Ty, who has just joined the Marine Corps, I salute all Leathernecks.  And the reason why they have been given that nickname.  You see, back in the 1800s there was a group called the Barbary Pirates.  They were bloodthirsty savages (did I mention they were also muslims?) that were causing problems in what is now Libya.  After some skirmishes with American ships, the Marines were called in to take care of the situation.  The pirates were known to cut the heads off their victims (does this sound familiar?) so the Marines quickly took to wearing hardened leather gourgets around their necks, hence the term Leathernecks.  Since we are still dealing with savages beheading people, I always refer to Marines as Leathernecks.  And, I will always salute them and celebrate their birthday.  Ooorah!


   Update on the VA.  If you didn't know VA Secretary Bob McDonald was on 60 Minutes the other night.  From watching the interview, or reading the transcript, you can tell that he is learning about bureaucracy.  But, I think McDonald is doing his job, as well as he can.  The VA system is not only entrenched in bureaucracy, but it is entrenched in antiquity.  Antiquity of computer systems that haven't been updated, in some cases, since the 1980's.  Antiquity of the internet.  McDonald is bringing about changes that will reduce the 12 different websites that the VA uses into 1. 
   Am I saying the VA Scandal is over?  Hell, no.  Not until all of the VA is functioning as it should.  Not just the medical centers, but the other parts of the VA which are found lacking as well.  A lot of the stories that are surrounding the VA say McDonald is "cleaning house".  Well, its a rather messy place and, as I've said before, it won't be fixed in a day.  McDonald supposedly wants to hire as many as 28,000 new medical employees for the VA.  That's a tall order, especially when private hospitals are in competition with the VA medical centers for those doctors, technicians, and nurses. 
   Between taking on the bureaucracy and adding thousands of new medical personnel, McDonald is, I believe, doing a good job so far.  He needs to keep the pedal to the metal, as the saying goes, and he needs to remember the motto of his alma mater, West Point: Duty, Honor, Country.


   Veterans' Day.  I started this post off with a tribute to Leathernecks.  I'm going to end talking about Veterans' Day and by referencing a recent blog post by @OldMarine1 where he talks about how to honor our Veterans all year long.  I agree with the post and I urge you to read it.  Whether you have taken an Oath to defend this country or not, this is truly the best way to honor our Veterans.  Free dinners are nice, but the men and women who have served this country know the meaning of selfless service.  To be of service for them is the best way to honor them.  There is a group on twitter that uses the hashtag #ISBU.  Basically, what it means is "I'll Stand By U".  Any time a Veteran needs to talk or is in a bad place, I will be there for you.  It's a lot like the Spartan Pledge which is run by A Gallant Few.  This organization, along with a whole list of other groups, including Chili off the Grid (I will always throw a shout out to those guys and the great job they are doing), are all interested in the same goal.  The goal I think all Veteran Service Organizations have as one of their main goals, to stop the Veteran suicides that happen all too often, each and every day.  To that extent, I think all of us should reach out to a Veteran, not just on Veterans' Day, but every day.  Let them know they are appreciated.  Let them know there is some one who will listen.  #ISBU
That is all.


If you are a Veteran or know of a Veteran who is in a dark place call the Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255.  You can also text them at 838255.  You are not alone.

01 November 2014

On the Way!!

   Free at last.  Sgt Andrew Tahmooressi is finally free from his Mexican jail cell.  Without a doubt this should have happened a lot sooner.  Like 214 days sooner.  But, if there is anything good that has come of this, it is the fact that a group of Americans were able to band together and bring about the release of a Veteran from a Mexican jail.  What, you say it was a Mexican judge's ruling that set SGT Tahmooressi free?  Yep, you're right.  But, if anyone thinks Tahmooressi would be free today if it weren't for people like Montel Williams, Greta Van Sustern and USMCfamily (twitter handle), among others, then you might be voting for Pres. Obama soon.  More about the upcoming election later on in this post.
   No, SGT Tahmooressi is free today because a group of people to include members of the media and even some politicians, took to the rooftops and let the world know that an injustice was being committed.  If  you wrote a letter, made a phone call, or sent an email/tweet/facebook post you are part of the reason SGT Tahmooressi is free.  There is strength in numbers.  We have seen that before during the VA scandal, and we are seeing it now with Tahmooressi's release.  It's a team effort.  That "team effort"is one of the basic tenets why the U.S. Military is one of the premier fighting forces in world.  The U.S. Army Infantry relies on "buddy teams" to fight and move onto objectives.  It is those buddy teams that helped our country win wars in Germany, Korea, Vietnam (yes Virginia, militarily we won the war in Vietnam), Iraq and Afghanistan.  Weapons systems used in the Military require a "team effort" as well.  On a mortar crew you need a gunner, assistant gunner/loader, a gun leader.  In mechanized units the driver also sets the charges for the mortar round and may also operate the field phone with your fire direction control group.  It takes all of those soldiers to send a round down range.  And when the asst gunner is hanging that round and he yells "On the way!!" it is through the efforts of countless days training.  Training with a gun crew.  Training with his platoon.  In a lot ways it is "We the People" personified on the battlefield.


    Rock the vote.  I alluded to the upcoming elections before.  I really do try to keep out of the politics.  This is a blog on Veterans Issues and Military issues.  Too often, however, politics is tied into how our Veterans are treated in the U.S.A.  The VA scandal is an outstanding example of politics and politicians rearing their ugly heads in the affairs of Veterans.  I am a conservative and a firm advocate of the U.S. Constitution.  That being said, I will forever be an advocate of anyone who has the privilege of being able to legally vote in the United States to do so.  Election experts say we may see only about 20 to 30 % of registered voters vote in the upcoming Election 2014.  That is a travesty.  Earlier this year, the people of Scotland voted in a referendum on their independence from the United Kingdom.  More that 80% of them voted.  One can only wonder what it would take for almost 90% of registered voters to actually cast a vote in an election in the U.S.  The talk among the election experts in the media is which party can "energize" their voters to actually vote.  Some say that the inaction by the current president means democrats will stay home and not vote.  How about this, how about if you do vote and you register your disagreement with the way the United States is heading?  If you don't like how the U.S. Senate isn't doing its job, go and vote.  If you are a democrat it doesn't mean you can't vote for a republican, does it?  I refuse to vote "straight party".  I vote my mind.  Whenever someone goes into a voting booth it should be like their political affiliation is gone.  Poof.  No more republican or democrat.  You're now an independent.  Vote for whoever you feel like in a general election.  Here in PA, I have to choose one of the two major parties to vote in the Primary elections.  That is something I'd love to see changed but first things first.  Lets vote!
   After this election both the House of Representatives and the Senate could be under control of the Republican party.  Harry Reid wouldn't be able to stop a vote on any bill presented to it from the House.  This would be the Legislative branch of government against the Executive branch.  One of the reasons why House resolution 620 (dealing with the imprisonment of SGT Tahmooressi) never made it out of committee was because it wouldn't be passed by the liberal controlled Senate onto a president who never lifted a pen or a phone to help out SGT Tahmooressi.
   But, I digress.  My whole reason for writing about the election is that we need more of our country voting.  Does it have to be about states' rights?  Well, it is.  Does it have to be about the security of our nation?  Well, it is.  To me, though, voting is about honoring those men and women who wear the Military uniform of the United States of America.  To me, voting is about the ultimate sacrifice far too many of my brothers and sisters have given for this country.
   When it all comes down to it, I want every American citizen to vote.  Make your voice heard by voting.  I've talked about the "team effort" it takes for a mortar platoon to function.  Well, for our government to function it takes the same effort.  "We The People" have to go out and vote.  Don't sit home.  Don't think that not casting a vote is your way of voting.  Vote.  Vote your mind. 
   I cant really speak about financial issues.  Trust me, my wife can vouch for that.  I can only speak about issues of the Military and the Veterans.  And regarding those issues, I can emphatically say our Veterans deserve better than what a lot of democrats have given us.  Most have never served in the Military.  To them, the Military is a humanitarian organization to help rebuild some place or to help with a medical issue like ebola.  To a lot of Democrats (and some Republicans), the promises made to Veterans are an agreement that can be changed.  That is wrong.  A promise made to defend your country is a promise that should be kept in whole.  Its a promise "We The People" need to make a "Team effort" to keep.  And, to keep those promises to our Military and our Veterans, we need to vote.  Look at who didn't sign HR 620 and, if they are up for election, send them a message by voting. 
   I ask that you share this blog with anyone who has the privilege to vote.  I hope that they will vote, no matter whom they vote for.  It is the least any of us can do to honor our Veterans.
That is all.

22 October 2014

A call for reveille

   First and foremost, my prayers go out to the families of the Canadian Army soldiers killed murdered in the past few days first in Quebec and now in Ottawa.  While the politicians wait to figure out what is going on, I am issuing a warning to members of the Military in ALL Western nations: Prepare to defend yourself. 
   These cowardly acts of murder and terror are a warning for all Military members; active duty, reserves, national guard.  ISIS has said they want to attack Military members in their homes.  It is now coming to fruition.  And, it has happened in both Britain and the U.S.  It is disgusting.  One of the things that makes it disgusting is that our country's leaders refuse to admit it is happening in the U.S.A.  Its always workplace violence or just a random act of crime.  Bull.  The reason why it isn't happening more frequently in the U.S. is because of our 2nd Amendment.  Nations like the U.K. and Canada, where gun ownership is either illegal or virtually impossible, are virtually painting targets on the backs of their Military members.  I have had the pleasure to serve with members of the Canadian Military and the U.K. Military (Staffordshire Regiment blokes) and I hope that all of them stay safe.  I know from statistics that this blog is read in many different countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, and the Ukraine, among others.  This is your call to awaken, your reveille if you will.  Protect your six and your battle buddies six.  The "radicalized" terrorists may be home grown now.  And your street may become a battleground.  Vary your travel routines. Stay alert.


   Silhouette yourself.  Members of combat arms units are taught not to silhouette yourself.  Not to get yourself noticed on the battlefield.  But, it seems, the media is taking this to the nth level (surprise, surprise).  A well known Vietnam Veteran from Pennsylvania recently attended and spoke at a dedication in Washington, D.C. for a monument for Veterans who are totally disabled.  What, you didn't hear about it?  That's the problem.  The New York Times didn't cover it.  Almost no one did.  This Veteran lost two legs and an arm serving his country.  This monument is dedicated to the selfless sacrifice he and others have given for this country, and more people know about Renee Zellweiger's plastic surgery than a monument that is dedicated to men and women who have sacrificed everything but their life for this country!  It is time to silhouette what Veterans do.  We have to be the media.  We have to be our own public relations.  Stand up on that hilltop and shout "Hey look at what is going on here!"  I will gladly give any Veterans group publicity here.  Just give me an email at  This Veterans Day let us be outspoken.  This is a Fire For Effect mission.  For those of you who don't know what I mean, when artillery or mortars hit their target, the forward observer calls fire for effect.  All rounds you have from all your guns go to those coordinates.  Blast it to bits, so to say.  Well, we Veterans should Fire For effect with publicity for this coming Veterans Day.  And every single day after that. HOOAH!

   Hey did you hear that the Mexican judicial system has said they can't take care of SGT Andrew Tahmooressi's PTSD?  Yeah, two weeks ago.  What's happened since then?  Absolutely nothing.  If the Mexican government is going to act and free SGT Tahmooressi then justice travels very, very slowly in Mexico.  If they wanted to get a message about SGT Tahmooressi to the White House, they should probably strap it to the back of an illegal immigrant crossing the border.  Wanna talk about record time?  That would be it.
   So what is being done onthis side of the border?  Here is a list of the cosponsors for House Resolution 620, which asks the government of Mexico to release SGT Tahmooressi.  So far it has been to three different committees in the House of Representatives.  So far as I know, the Senate doesn't want to touch it.  That would mean they would actually have to pass something on to the White House.  Hell, President Obama has a pen and a phone.  Why does he need the Senate to do anything?  He can just call up the Mexican president and ask him to have SGT Tahmooressi released.  He has called the Mexican government.  While other officials in the White House and the Obama administration has talked to the Mexican government, he (Pres. Obama) has NEVER mentioned SGT Tahmooressi.  Silence speaks volumes at times.
   Officially, here is the latest news on SGT Andrew Tahmooressi.  We all can only hope he will be released soon.

That is all. 

13 October 2014

Remember the Barrycades

    13 October 2013. It was a Sunday and I wasn't anywhere near a church.  Early that morning I was heading down to Washington, D.C. with a fellow Veteran.  He was a Veteran of Vietnam and all of the horrors that war was and, in some ways, still is.  I was going to the Million Veteran March.  Upset about National Parks, including every single Veterans Memorial this great country has, being closed down and barricaded off.  The Honor Flights were still going on and hundreds of World War II Veterans were being denied seeing the monuments dedicated to their selfless service.  It was said numerous times that day that our President was doing more to keep Veterans away from the war memorials than his administration did to help them (and this was before the VA Scandal broke in early 2014).  It could be said today that Obama did more to keep Veterans away from the memorials and monuments that they sacrificed for than he is doing to keep ebola victims out of this country. 
   I hate mixing politics with this blog because, in essence, I don't believe any one political party is solely to blame for the plight of our nation's Veterans.  They all are.  Truthfully, some can point fingers at the Republicans who shut down the government, which was the cause of the shut down of the U.S. National Parks and Monuments.  Of course, it really did seem like the Obama administration was going out of their way to closedown the monuments and National Parks.  The Header photo is a pic I took while at the Veterans March on D.C.  Two presumed Veterans carrying off what became known as "barrycades" named after Pres. Barack "Barry" Obama.  In truth, a U.S. Park Ranger doesn't have to be at the World War II Memorial, or the Vietnam Wall, or any other memorial I visited a year ago, so there was no reason to "close them down" or barricade them.   Truthfully, the Park Rangers and the politicians should have read the first line of the sign below.

   Indeed everyone should Honor Our Veterans.  Truthfully, very few really do.  Some Veterans have given their lives.  Most Combat Veterans have given blood and sweat and have injuries that are not always visible or physical. 
   The politicians should also listen to the last line of the sign.  Just as coins may damage the fountain, throwing money at a problem doesn't solve it.  The VA Scandal is an example of that because, as I have said and will tell you again, the VA Scandal isn't over.   So, one year away from the Veterans March on D.C., let us remember to Honor The Veterans.   Stay aware and keep on the politicians to always Honor Our Veterans.  The problem is, you may have to tell them how to honor them. 
  In the you gotta be kidding me dept.  I am continually amazed at how gullible people can be.  Take, for example, the current scare of ebola.  Is it a very serious threat?  Hell yeah.  Any disease with over 75% kill rate is very serious.  I just don't understand why, as I alluded to above, we are letting people flying from the countries affected to come to our country without the needed precautions.  As I said above, this president's administration did more to stop World War II Veterans from going to memorials than they are doing to stop people possibly afflicted with ebola from coming to this country. 
   Another Veteran who blogs (and has mentored me in my blogging career, whether he knows it or not) had a post about a photojournalist who has launched a crowd funding campaign to pay for his medical bills, because he may have ebola.  I, like A Vet With PTSD find it hard to believe that people are actually donating to his crowd funding plea when there are hundreds if not thousands of Veterans who have to beg and plead to get the funding for service animals or other treatments for their injuries.  This is just another example of how our government is failing U.S. Veterans.  Please, take some time and read Blowing off steam by A Vet With PTSD.  Check out his blog, it is a work of therapy for him and he is also a very good writer.  I also am going to ask everyone, including myself, to take The Veteran Video Challenge it is something we all should do and that A Vet with PTSD has started to raise awareness of the help our Veterans need.  Once again, I too need to heed this call myself.
   Marine Still Held in Mexico.  Once again, I write this blog and, once again, SGT Andrew Tahmooressi is still in a prison in Mexico.  Mexico themselves have said they cant treat Tahmooressi for his PTSD.  Still he sits.  The judge in charge of the case may call for final arguments any day now.  Still he sits in a cell in Mexico.  Our President is fundraising for democratic candidates, some of whom want only the money he brings, not any allegiance to his presidency.  He,President Obama, claims to have a pen and a phone.  Still, SGT Tahmooressi sits in Mexico against his will.  This is a disgrace and I hope all who read this post will call their elected officials and demand the freedom of SGT Tahmooressi.  I also ask that we all keep SGT Tahmooressi and his family in our prayers and our thoughts.  One of the good things that has happened is that Honor Air has donated 20 grand to Tahmooressi's fund for legal obligations and those of his family as they travel to Mexico (remember flights and hotels are pricey--its a tourist destination for crying out loud) to support SGT Tahmooressi.  We can only hope he will soon be free.
   Once again, if you or someone you know is a Veteran who is in a dark place, please call the Veteran Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255.  We all have to stop the madness that is Veteran Suicide.  If it will help, please check out my post on Veteran suicide here.
That is all.

04 October 2014

Remember The Heroes

   First, I must apologize for the length between my posts.  A very dear friend of mine has told me to make sure I post every week, at least once.  I've had internet problems (basically a dinosaur dsl modem).  Yeah, I still had the internet on my phone but I must admit part of the problem is my subject for this post.  We all have Heroes.  Mine, for the most part, are dead.  This post is about friends that I lost in the course of 10 days.  I knew them when they were alive.  I drank with most of them.  I ate, slept and lived with them at least once a month, usually more than that. I served with them in Charlie Company of the 1/109 Infantry Regiment (Mechanized), 55th Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division. Before deploying overseas the company would change to Bravo Company but whatever the designation, I remember my Brothers-In-Arms. Remember The Heroes.
   Nine years ago on 28 September 2005, the stay back members of my unit were gathering for a viewing.  The "stay backs" are soldiers who didn't deploy.  In my case my diabetes kept me home. I tried to go.  I was (am) Infantry.  But, regardless, I had to stay back.  Spc Will Evans died in Iraq on 19 September 2005. He was a driver and an IED triggered by another vehicle in a convoy detonated. It took them 9 days to bring back his body.  The stay backs were Honor Guard. At the armory in New Milford we learned from our assistant Bn (Battalion) Commander that the crew (a driver, gunner and Bradley Commander) & two dismounts (Ground Infantrymen) were killed in another IED explosion. The men were all close to me.  They should be, they were all in my Platoon.  The dismounts were my my squad.  As a SGT I was a dismount team leader.  SSG Dan Arnold was my squad leader.  Now, he was dead. SSG George Pugliese (Bradley Commander), SGT Erik Slebodnik (Gunner), SPC Lee Wiegand (Driver), and SPC Oliver Brown (Dismount Team Member) were also dead.
   Shocked. Devastated.  I still can't put into words how I felt, or how I feel to this day, about that moment.  Men that I had known were dead.  Father. Sons. Brothers.  Gone.  Coupled with another death earlier that year, 2005 was not a friend to the 109th (The Regiment). 
   I served as Honor Guard for almost all of them, except for SPC Oliver's viewing and funeral, which was held the same day as my Squad Leader's viewing and funeral. 
   I remember George Pugliese.  During his viewing (I remember all of them but his stands out.)  A lot of the other Honor Guards for his viewing were not from our company.  Since I knew his family, I told the rest of the guards that when I left for my "shift" to stand by his urn and his burial flag "I'm the last one to stand by him.  He was  my Section Leader and I owe him that much.  To stand by him for one last time."  The "shifts" were supposed to be a half hour.  It was 30 minutes until the viewing was supposed to end.  Little did I know the doors weren't closing.  So many people had come to pay their respects to SSG Pugliese, I was out there, at Parade Rest, for over any hour.  I still remember SSG Earl Toy and another soldier came out.  At first I tried to figure out how to tell them I wasn't leaving.  George left 3 kids and a wonderful wife (along with a very spirited mother) behind.  I owed him a lot.  He had taught me so much about leadership and what it is to be an NCO (Non Commissioned Officer) and a soldier.  In the end, though, SSG Toy had a very different message.  As he came to attention in front of me, I came to attention.  We saluted that long, formal last salute with white gloved hands.  Then, Earl said matter of factly, "John, don't move.  You've been out here for over an hour and a half.  If you move you may collapse from being at Parade Rest for so long.  We are going to take the urn and the flag.  Only move after we have left the room."  So, they ceremoniously picked up the urn and the flag and left the drill floor. (The viewing was at the Carbondale Armory).  As people followed them I came to attention again and started to march.  Some of the other Honor Guards rushed over to me, helping to support me if I needed it.  It was my honor to spend those last moments with George, if only in spirit, before his funeral.  It was my honor to serve with all of those men.  To this day, I wish I was there in Ar Ramadi with them. 
   I remember Erik Slebodnik.  I had always said that whenever I went to a review board (for rank or soldier of month, etc.) that I would have wanted to have Erik with me.  He was studious.  He knew weapons ranges and tactics.  He was a soldier's soldier.  Did he drink?  No, he was also one of the most religious men I have ever known.  He was one of the best Men I have ever known.  Period.
   I remember Lee Wiegand.  He always had a smile on his face.  Nothing ever seemed to bring him down.  He came to me before deploying and asked me about getting married.  I told him that, if he was sure it was love, to do it.
   I remember Dan Arnold.  Dan was one of the best mechanics we ever had for the Bradley Fighting Vehicles.  Then, he transitioned over to the Infantry.  For the short period of time that I served as one of his team leaders, he was a stand up NCO.  And he was a very good man.
   I remember Billy Evans.  He was a rascal.  Unbreakable.  He had mischief on his mind almost all the time.  He reminded me of myself, although I think he would have won if you counted the number of article 15s we each had.  He was one of the best drivers in our company.
    I remember Oliver Brown.  He was always the quiet one.  One of the Bradford County boys.  It was rare that one of our soldiers was  quiet and from Bradford County.  A good soldier.  Dependable.  A good kid.
   There are so many memories.  There were so many funerals.  Due to the circumstances of their deaths (an IED blast that totally burnt up their Bradley) it took a long time for their bodies (or as much of their DNA that could be identified) to come back home.  It was like torture for the families and all of us that were back home.    I remember my friends.  I remember my Brothers-In-Arms.  I Remember The Heroes.

23 September 2014

In line at the chow hall

   I would like to apologize for the lateness of this post.  I was going to post it last weekend but I had internet problems.  Combined with two children who were, for pretty much the first time, deprived of the internet (think of all the online games that are played real time, plus youtube, et al) and you have a situation.  So I took the approach of dealing with it like I was standing in line at the chow hall.  NCOs (Noncommissioned officers) usually let the lower ranks eat first, especially during field meals, because you don't know if they brought out enough rations.  More than a couple times during an FTX (field training exercise) did the NCOs in my mortar platoon have to take half a ration or (in the case of green egg T-Rats) just skip that meal in favor of any poogie bait they brought with them. 
   That's how I dealt with the internet problem.  I let the kids have their share of playing minecraft, halo or whatever else they wanted to do.  Now, I'm back for the attack, as I'm often fond of saying.  Let's see what our targets are looking like today.
   Marine held in Mexico.  That didn't take long.  Yes, SGT Andrew Tahmooressi is still in a freaking jail in Mexico.  It is absolutely despicable that he is still in a jail cell, and even more reprehensible that he is being held in Mexico.  The country where a lot of drugs and weapons come out of (just stating facts) is holding a U.S. Marine for bringing in legal (in the U.S.A.) firearms.  Firearms that he declared he had when he made that wrong turn.  I know that unless you've been living outside the thunder of the media for the past 6 months, you know exactly what the deal is for SGT Tahmooressi, but I believe in restating the facts, as outlandish as they are. 
   But now we have something else to keep the spotlight on our beloved Devil Dog.  Remember the lesson of the Veterans Admin scandal.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease.  The VA has been broken for decades, yet recently we have gotten some action on making the VA (and the politicians & bureaucrats) make good on their mission of taking care of this country's Veterans.  Well, the same will hopefully be said of keeping SGT Tahmooressi's plight in the public eye.  Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) & Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) have set up a Congressional hearing on SGT Tahmooressi's imprisonment.   SGT Tahmooressi's mother, Jill, will testify art the hearing as to what her son has gone through since he was taken into Mexican custody in March.  LCDR Montel Williams (ret) will also testify at the hearing.  
   The hearing is being touted as a PTSD hearing.  SGT Tahmooressi suffers from PTSD and the hearing attests to the fact that he is not being treated for his PTSD while in Mexican confinement.  The hearing is set for 1 October at 1000 hrs. (yes, 10 a.m. civilian time.  My wife does remind me I am not in the military, but old habits die hard.)

   Treating the devil.  PTSD is another one of those tough subjects.  It affects many of our Military.  I have friends who need two hands to count the number of times they've been "blown up" while on patrol over in Iraq.  Many of our returning Veterans also have physical injuries.  PTSD is an injury you can't see.  It's also an injury which needs to be treated better by the aforementioned VA.  There are numerous private groups that help with PTSD treatment.  From groups like K9s for Warriors that help with hooking up Veterans with specially trained dogs that can help the Veteran overcome bouts of PTSD to other groups like Chili's Off the Grid  that help by providing therapy in the form of hunting and a sense of camaraderie that Veterans need.  Treatment for PTSD is more than just medication and counseling by some doctor who has probably never even been in "combat boots".  It is a group effort, so to say.  More ways of treatment are being developed and the VA and it's political handlers in Congress, must remember that.  The VA should be among the leaders in the treatment of PTSD and, in my opinion, it isn't.  That has to change.  Far more has to be said about PTSD.  And, yes, there are numerous groups that help Veterans with different types of therapy, whether its dogs or whatever.  I will mention more groups as I can.
   I am also not an expert on PTSD, but I want to help my Brothers & Sisters who know all too well what it is like living with this devil every day.  Please, let me know where I can get information or talk to groups who deal with PTSD. 

   Platoon, Fall In!  There seems to be some infighting among some of the Veterans advocates on social media.  Let me fire a warning shot and say THIS HAS TO STOP!  I don't want to mention some members that have been attacked but I will say this, we all need to stand together.  It's the United We Stand thing.  We have to leave our differences at the door of twitter or facebook or whatever social media we are using because we are heard and seen better when we stand together.  We are Veterans.  We served in the Military.  We need to stay in formation, no matter what.  It is kinda like being in line for the chow hall.  Some of us go first.  Others go last.  But we all are here for the same reason.  To make sure Veterans get the care, respect and recognition that they are due.
   That is all.

10 September 2014

Home of the Brave

   America.  The Home of the Brave.  The Land of the Free.  That's what I think of when someone mentions our country.  It truly is the Land of the Free because it is the Home of the Brave.  And the Brave are our nation's Veterans.  Every Veteran, in my opinion, is brave.  Yet, do you have to be a Vet to be brave? 
   Pardon my wandering mind in the opening section, but it's a question that I have in my mind.  There are so many memories that swirl around this time of year.  Tomorrow is the 13th anniversary of the attacks on NYC, the Pentagon, and rural Pennsylvania.  All of The United States of America really.  I've also lost 9 Brothers-In-Arms in August  and September over the past 9 years.  Two others  have been horrifically wounded in that time span.  And I have still have Brothers (&Sisters) in-Arms still serving.  One just joined the military in the past year.  That's Bravery for you.
   And, at times that are troubling, bravery is carrying on.  I remember the attacks on September 11th vividly.  I was in the PA Army National Guard at the time.  My civilian job was working for a telecommunications company doing telecom relay, a service for deaf and hard of hearing people.  I was working a split shift that day in 2001.  I would work 4 hours in the morning, have four hours off, and then come back in to work for another 4 hours.  Well, my shift that day started at 9 a.m.  Before going on the "call floor" I saw the news reports of the planes hitting the World Trade Center Towers.  I was so shocked that I unconsciously dropped a bottle of Mountain Dew I had just bought out of a vending machine.  The next few hours were chaotic evil.  No one knew what the hell was happening.  Operators on the floor were trying to piece together what was happening.  We didn't have a t.v. to watch for news updates.  All phone lines to NYC and the surrounding area were down.  As relay operators we had to type verbatim what we heard.  So, when an error message said that a tornado had hit New York City, we had to type that.  Of course that didn't make sense to our customers but you weren't supposed to interject anything.  Federal rules.  Rules which I and others broke that day as we explained that phone lines were down because of an attack on New York City. 
   The calls were numerous that day.  And not all of it was for New York.  Georgia was a state that we had the contract for to provide relay services.  Lots of people in the state were worried that Atlanta might be the next target. 
   When it did come time for me to leave after my 4 hours, I at first took my backpack which contained my headset and other stuff for the job with me.  When I walked back onto the call floor and left it near a wall, one of my friends said "Good, that's positive thinking."  Myself and others were wondering if I would return to work that day.  After leaving the building I saw my wife pushing my then not quite 3-year-old daughter in a stroller.  She was hurrying and when we saw each other we both dashed into the street to hold each other.  It sounds like almost suicide, but it wasn't.  The streets were practically empty.  The local mall was closing early.  It was deserted.  People were glued to their televisions.  And they were afraid.  When I held my wife, it was then that I learned (this was almost 1 p.m. Eastern time) that the Towers had collapsed.  I couldn't believe it when I was on the call floor and heard it.  Later I would see the awful pictures that are forever in my memory.  For the record, yes, I do think we should show those images.  Not just once a year either.  You can't remember something if you've never seen it.  For my son's generation, I hope they will never forget what happened on that September morning.  And what has happened in the years that have passed since then.
   Later on, I would report to my unit.  I wasn't needed and we weren't going to deploy (at least not at that time).  I donated blood.  I watched in disbelief and horror.  Later, I went back to work.  It was more chaotic times, but, that's bravery for you.
   Now, it's 13 years later.  It seems like some people are still afraid.  They don't want to do too much on September 11, 2014.  Well, I have to ask the question why?  We are the Home of the Brave, after all.  And, we cannot be afraid to do something on the anniversary of the terror attacks that struck home all those years ago.  Like a character says (and I am not quoting here) in the movie series Harry Potter, "fear of (a thing) only increases its power."
   Well, as my Dad would say, To hell with that."  My son's Boy Scout Troop is holding their regular meeting tomorrow night.  He wasn't even alive in 2001.  His generation will never know what it was like to see the Twin Towers in the skyline over New York City.  They have never known what it is like to not live in a world threatened by terror attacks.  To me, every single kid his age is brave.  I never even knew what a terrorist was when I was born in 1967.  Now, every single day, that word is mentioned at least once on the nightly news.  But these kids are going out and doing something on September 11, 2014.  That is bravery for you.
   So let's prove this is the Home of the Brave by doing something tomorrow.  Anything really.  Play outside.  Go for a walk.  Anything.  Because my friends who have died because of the 9/11 attacks didn't die in vain.  Tomorrow, and everyday, I work, play and live to honor their sacrifice.  HOOAH!


   Brave in Mexico.  Another example of bravery is Sgt Andrew Tahmooressi.  Still in jail in Mexico, he is a Combat Veteran who is still putting in his time in hell.  As of yesterday, he had another hearing.  His lawyer seems optimistic.  We can only hope and pray for the best.  Like I said, he's already served his time in hell in combat.  He doesn't need to spend any more time there.  Please continue to call your Representatives to voice your concerns about Tahmooressi's confinement and to ask them tell them to support House Resolution 620 and to help make it a bill by passing it.  As to whether or not that will do any good, I don't know, but it's the best thing we can do to show our support for a Brave Marine.
   That is all.

05 September 2014

A foxhole is never done

   I know it's been longer than usual for this post.  With the kids going back to school it has been a rather active week.  It's kind of like a foxhole, the work is never done.  For those of you who either weren't in the military or were in a non land based branch of the military, let me explain.
   Once you make your defensive position foxhole, you are never done making it better.  There is the constant camouflage replacement (can't have dead leaves giving it away), along with improving your position.  Adding grenade sumps, left & right limits for your areas of fire, etc.  It's kinda like your house.  You improve things as you get time and resources to add different things. 
   Of course, one thing that Veterans deal with could use a lot of improving.  You guessed it, I'm talking about the Veterans Administration.  I've been saying (and I will keep on bringing it up) that the VA Scandal is not over.  Since he has taken over, Sec. McDonald has been making improvements.  There is now a pilot program for rural Veterans who live far away from VA Medical Centers.  Yes, this is only in five different areas, but it is a start.  Two of the programs are run by state entities (Maine and New Mexico) while the other three (Westcare Washington which includes Washington state and Oregon, Volunteers of America of Northern Louisiana which includes areas of Arkansas and Texas as well as Louisiana, and the Nebraska Association of Healthcare Directors for Nebraska) are all non profit organizations.  It's also interesting to note that Maine's pilot program is being run by the state's department of labor.  This will be a test to see if non profit organizations can handle Veterans' healthcare better than governmental organizations, to say the least.
   In addition to the rural pilot program, other larger hospitals are also taking care of VA medical benefits as well.  And Sec. McDonald has also created a push to hire more medical professionals for the VAMCs.  And then, there are VA town hall meetings.
   As I am sure you've all heard by now, the VA wanted to train their members on how to deal with Veterans during the town hall meetings in my native Pennsylvania.  The above image of Oscar the Grouch was supposed to represent Veterans and how they can be "grouchy".  While the VA publicity officials have tried to say Oscar was supposed to represent the VA officials themselves, most other stories by the media have mentioned that the title of the slideshow was "Dealing with Veterans during town hall meetings." 
   I also want to point out something I haven't seen mentioned in reports of the slideshow.  Look at Oscar's garbage can.  It's gold.  Normally, his garbage can is the normal steel type color.  Could it be that the VA is trying to "paint" Veterans as having a lot?  Like they have it all and want more.  I would hope that that isn't what was meant but, we are dealing with bureaucrats in the VA. 
   And all I've talked about is the VAMCs.  We haven't even touched the other parts of the VA Scandal.  I'm sure, however, that we can all agree on two things.  The VA Scandal isn't over and Sec. McDonald needs to realize just how alike the VA Scandal and a foxhole really are. 
   To borrow a cable news network's slogan, I'm trying to be fair and balanced with the VA.  Sometimes, however, it just comes down to the fact that a massive overhaul has to be undertaken.  That's why I am constantly saying the VA Scandal isn't over.  It didn't just get broken overnight during the Obama administration.  It's been broken a long, long time.  For the VA to be fixed new approaches like the rural Veteran care program have to be tried out.  But changes will have to be made to the entire VA.  And that includes the ability for Sec. McDonald to be able to fire people and make changes as needed.  And that is where the politicians come into play.  And that, dear reader, is where you come into play as well.  We have to keep the their feet to the proverbial fire.  It's the only way the VA Scandal will ever truly be over.
   That is all.

The 7th Annual Jan Argonish Ride will be held Sunday September 7th. Registration is from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m.   For more information please click here.
Rockin Fest will be held Sunday, September 13th in Newton, NJ from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.  For more information on this event please check out their website.
If you have an event that benefits Veterans or Active duty Military, please let me know about it and I'll post it in upcoming editions of the Citizen-Soldier Blog.  Just email me at  

27 August 2014

Hitting the SP

   First of all, thank you to everyone that has not only read or shared my last blog post on Veterans suicide, but to all of those who have emailed, tweeted or even called me to say thank you for the post.  The attention and page views that this post has garnered is a sign, I hope, that I am reaching Veterans and their family members about this tragedy.  As a result, I will continue to call for Veterans to help Veterans, as I did in my first post of The Citizen-Soldier Blog.  It's kind of like hitting the SP of a military convoy.  SP means Starting Point.  It all begins with Vets helping Vets.
   I am also giving the link to the Spartan Pledge from  No matter what service you were in, or where you served, you had a battle buddy.  The guy who was in front of you when you did a room entry.  If you were a driver, the gunner who did PMCS with you (anyone who was/is Mech or Armor knows what I'm talking about).  Every man and woman who has served has a battle buddy.  They had your back then, so call them up and have them take the Spartan Pledge with you.  22 of our Brothers and Sisters are taking their own lives every single day!  We Veterans have to take care each other.  It could be the guy you throw darts with at the Legion Post who is a Vietnam Vet.  It could be the Coast Guard Veteran who has become a good friend.  Take the Pledge and always remember: You cannot make someone commit suicide by talking about it.
    VA scandal.  The President recently addressed the American Legion Convention being held in Charlotte, Virginia.  His reception wasn't especially warm.  And, just to be apolitical about it, here is another link, from a media source not right leaning, about his muted reception. The truth of the matter is the VA scandal isn't owned by any one president.   This mismanagement/corruption of the Veterans Administration goes back not just years or decades but generations. For a very thorough history of problems with the VA please check out this post from a fellow Veteran blogger.  I hope he doesn't mind that I am linking to his post but, once again, we Veterans have to stick together.
   The main message I am trying to get across is simply, if the Betrayal (because that is what it is...not a scandal, but a betrayal) of the VA is going to stop then the politicians and bureaucrats are going to have to help in that process.  For some of those groups, I fear it is going to be help facilitated by a stick not a carrot.  I will make as much of a ruckus as I can to help Secretary McDonald in cleaning up the mess in the VA.  I ask all of you to sound the alarm as well.  I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The VA scandal is not over.  Not by a long shot.
   Back to square one.  I started this post off by talking again about Veteran suicide and I'm going to end this post with a link to a story published recently by USA Today.  Written by Dennis Wagner, who write for the Arizona Republic and USA Today, the article shows how the VA, even since Congress passed and the President signed a bill to "take care of" the VA scandal, is still betraying the Veterans of the United States of America. 
That is all.


If you know of a Veteran who may be thinking about suicide, or you are a Veteran who is contemplating it, please call the Veterans Crisisline at 1800 273 8255.
The 7th Annual SGT Jan Argonish Ride will be held Sunday, September 7th.  For more information please click here.
Sources used include: USA Today,, The Triad Business Journal, Scream in the Wilderness by @OldMarine1 and The Daily Caller.  

19 August 2014

A Tough Post

   I've wanted to write this blog for some time now.  In reality, I've wanted to write this post for years.  Also in reality, I've dreaded writing this post.  It's a tough one to write.  It's a tough post to deal with the subject.  The subject is Veteran suicide and I know a Veteran who committed suicide.  That's why it's hard to write this post.  It's not like I was best friends with him, but that doesn't matter.  Suicide, by it's nature, is somewhat taboo in normal everyday society.  It's not really reported on in the media.  Most newspapers won't run a story about an individual committing suicide.  The only exceptions are murder suicides (which are increasing) and suicide by cop (doing something to harm someone else so a police officer will kill you). 
   As I said above, suicide is somewhat taboo in normal civilian society.  In the Veteran society it's safe to say talking about is taboo.  Thinking about it is more common than you would think in the Veteran community.  That's two things that should change.  We Veterans should talk about suicide.  We should talk to someone if we ever think about committing suicide.  That's one of the missions of  It's called the Spartan Pledge and the basic gist of the pledge is to call your battle buddy first before you try to commit suicide.  Talking about it to someone else can help you see through the dark spot you are in and help you realize that suicide is never the answer

   22 Everyday.  Despite it not being a good answer EVER, approximately 22 Veterans commit suicide everyday.  Think about that for a moment.  within one week more than 100 Veterans end their own lives.  That number is horrendous.  Last week, Robin Williams committed suicide.  He was a tremendous supporter of the USO and, of course, he was very big celebrity.  Think about if 22 celebrities committed suicide in just one week.  There would be a lot more news coverage of it, and that is part of the problem.  Pop culture celebrates those who sing or swing a baseball bat well.  What about the Veteran who has just come back from Afghanistan?  He survived a war zone.  To me, that's an achievement beyond a .374 batting average or being able to have a top 40 chart topping song. 
   OK, I know I can't change how everyone feels about A-Rod(who had to take drugs to perform better than other baseball players) or Kanye West (who is famous for what I am still trying to figure out), but I hope I can help change the way people look and act and deal with suicide, especially as it pertains to Veterans.  I teach suicide prevention where I work and I want to dispel one major myth.  You cannot talk someone into committing suicide.  There.  I said it.  If you mention suicide it will not make someone do it.  It can only help someone not do it. 
   While there are no definite symptoms of suicide, here is a list of warning signs for Veterans (taken from the Veterans Crisis line website):

·        Appearing sad or depressed most of the time

·        Clinical depression: deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating—that doesn’t go away or continues to get worse

·        Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep

·        Neglecting personal welfare, deteriorating physical appearance

·        Withdrawing from friends, family, and society, or sleeping all the time

·        Losing interest in hobbies, work, school, or other things one used to care about

·        Frequent and dramatic mood changes

·        Expressing feelings of excessive guilt or shame

·        Feelings of failure or decreased performance

·        Feeling that life is not worth living, having no sense of purpose in life

·        Talk about feeling trapped—like there is no way out of a situation

·        Having feelings of desperation, and saying that there’s no solution to their problems
Their behavior may be dramatically different from their normal behavior, or they may appear to be actively contemplating or preparing for a suicidal act through behaviors such as:
·        Performing poorly at work or school
·        Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities—seemingly without thinking
·        Showing violent behavior such as punching holes in walls, getting into fights or self-destructive violence; feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
·        Looking as though one has a “death wish,” tempting fate by taking risks that could lead to death, such as driving fast or running red lights
·        Giving away prized possessions
·        Putting affairs in order, tying up loose ends, and/or making out a will
·        Seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means of harming oneself
      The Veterans Crisis Line can be accessed here or you can call 1800 273 8255 and press 1.  You can also text them at 838255.  If you go to their website you can even chat with someone. 
   And don't think that there is an age where a Veteran might be contemplating suicide.  According to a news article in Stripes ( more and more younger Veterans are contemplating it as well as older Veterans.  You can check out that article here. 
   In closing, I want to thank and one of my friends on twitter @chilioffthegrid in helping me write this post.  This won't be the last time I broach this topic, and I hope that I can help even if it's just one life saved.  Because every Veteran's life is a life that deserves to be lived to the fullest.
That is all.


The 7th Annual SGT Jan Argonish Ride is going to be held on 7 September 2014.  For more information please visit the website.

11 August 2014

Living (and Dying) by the Code

   The U.S. Military lives by a code. All of us. Army, Marines, Navy Air Force & Coast Guard.  It's kinda unwritten, but it is written down in a lot of places, especially Washington, D.C.  You see, when that code is written down it is on monuments and a very long (too long) Wall.  It is written in the names of those who have died defending this country.  When those names are etched into the Vietnam Memorial, or any memorial anywhere in the U.S., the code that those men and women lived by is how they chose to live their lives.  When you join the U.S. Armed Forces you take an Oath to protect the United States.  That is part of the code of the U.S. Military.  Loyalty.  Bravery.  Courage.  Those are just some of the words that mean everything to the men and women of the U.S. Military.  Unfortunately, most of those words mean nothing to politicians and bureaucrats.
   Take Loyalty, for example.  It means nothing what-so-ever to most politicians & bureaucrats.  The bureaucrats in the Veterans Administration don't feel loyalty toward our Veterans.  That's why we have the VA Scandal.  I didn't say "had" because, until the VA is changed, it is still a scandal.  The bureaucrats misreported numbers of those Veterans who died waiting for medical care.  A recent op-ed in the Washington Examiner by Concerned Veterans of America CEO Pete Hegseth points out how both politicians & bureaucrats have led to problems which are now the hallmark of the VA.  The politicians have passed the VA Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014, including the President's signing the bill into law.  Make no mistake, we have to hold the politicians, and those who come in their footsteps in the coming years, to this law.  VA Secretary McDonald will need our help if he is to change the culture of corruption, dishonesty, cowardice, and greed (the list of words can go on and on)once and for all.  The President and Congress will need to help McDonald in the future.  I don't think its a distant future either.  That is where we will play our part.  As the electorate, we have to let our representatives and senators know that we want the VA (in essence the U.S. itself) to live by the same code our Military Veterans live and die by.  That's the same code that is embodied in every Veterans memorial in the U.S.

   Mail Call
   So far, I've talked about words that our Military Veterans live by.  One Marine that is exemplifying the word perseverance is SGT Andrew Tahmooressi.  Still being held in prison in Mexico.  Please check my previous blog about how you can help Tahmooressi and his family financially during his confinement and courtroom delays.  Here is a way that you can maybe help to cheer up the Devil Dog SGT himself.  It's something that cheers up almost any service member.  It's mail call.  Here is the address where you can write SGT Tahmooressi:

SGT Andrew Tahmooressi
Carretera LibreRumorasa Tecate
SN Francisco Villa, El Hongo 2’ 21452
Tecate’ Baja California Norte, Mexico
   There are some rules both official and unofficial.  The official rules are that letters may not be more than 3 pages in length.  They need to be on white paper.  They will also be read by prison staff prior to Andrew receiving them(Reading inmate mail is standard practice in almost any jail in the U.S. also).  The unofficial rules I am asking of you is to keep the badmouthing of the Mexican legal system to a minimum.  It won't really help anything.  Please keep the letters positive, just as you would when writing a soldier overseas. 
   The Marine Corps League of Scranton PA will host an Open Pit Beef BBQ on 16 August 2014 from 1300-1700 (1p.m.-5p.m. for civilian folks).  It is being held at the Marine Corps Detachment at Alder St & Bloucher St in Scranton PA.  Tickets are on sale the day of the BBQ and are $9.
   If you know of an upcoming events that will benefit Veterans and their organizations please let me know.  It doesn't have to be a National event, statewide and local events are accepted as well.  Please send them to me at  I will publish them as I have room and time.  Thank you!
   That is all.