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.