Obama Veterans Day Remarks

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much. Thank you so much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Please — thank you. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.)

Secretary McDonald, Mr. Hallinan, distinguished guests and, most of all, our extraordinary veterans and your families: The last time I stood on these hallowed grounds, on Memorial Day, our country came together to honor those who have fought and died for our flag. A few days before, our nation observed Armed Forces Day, honoring all who are serving under that flag at this moment.

And today, on Veterans Day, we honor those who honored our country with its highest form of service: You who once wore the uniform of our Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, or Coast Guard. We owe you our thanks. We owe you our respect. And we owe you our freedom.

We come together to express our profound gratitude for the sacrifices and contributions you and your family made on the battlefield, at home, and at outposts around the world. But America’s gratitude to our veterans is something always grounded in something greater than what you did on duty. It’s also an appreciation of the example that you continue to set after your service has ended — your example as citizens.

Veterans Day often follows a hard-fought political campaign — an exercise in the free speech and self-government that you fought for. It often lays bare disagreements across our nation. But the American instinct has never been to find isolation in opposite corners. It is to find strength in our common creed, to forge unity from our great diversity, to sustain that strength and unity even when it is hard. And when the election is over, as we search for ways to come together — to reconnect with one another and with the principles that are more enduring than transitory politics — some of our best examples are the men and women we salute on Veterans Day.

It’s the example of young Americans — our 9/11 Generation — who, as first responders ran into smoldering towers, then ran to a recruiting center and signed up to serve.

It’s the example of a military that meets every mission, one united team, all looking out for one another, all getting each other’s backs.

It’s the example of the single-most diverse institution in our country — soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and coastguardsmen who represent every corner of our country, every shade of humanity, immigrant and native-born, Christian, Muslim, Jew, and nonbeliever alike, all forged into common service.

It’s the example of veterans — patriots — who, when they take off their fatigues, put back on the camouflage of everyday life in America and become our business partners and bosses, our teachers and our coaches, our first responders, city council members, community leaders, role models — all still serving this country we love with the same sense of duty and with valor.

A few years ago, a middle-school student from Missouri entered an essay contest about why veterans are special. This is what he wrote: “When I think of a veteran, I think of men or women who will be the first to help an elderly lady across the street. I also think of someone who will defend everyone, regardless of their race, age, gender, hair color, or other discriminations.”

After eight years in office, I particularly appreciate that he included hair color. (Laughter.) But that middle-schooler is right. Our veterans are still the first to help; still the first to serve.

They are women like the retired military policewoman from Buffalo who founded an AMVETS post in her community and is now building a safe place for homeless female veterans with children. (Applause.)

They are men like the two veterans from Tennessee — one in his fifties, one in his sixties — who wrote me to say they would happily suit up and ship out if we needed them. “We might be just a little old,” they wrote, “but we will be proud to go and do what we were taught to do.”

Whenever the world makes you cynical; whenever you seek true humility and true selflessness, look to a veteran.

Look to someone like First Lieutenant Irving Lerner. Irving was born in Chicago to Russian Jewish immigrants during World War I. He served as a bombardier in the Army Air Corps, flying dozens of missions toward the end of World War II.

When he returned home, Irving did what a lot of veterans do — he put away his medals, he kept humble about his service, started living a quiet life. One fall day, walking down Sheffield Avenue on Chicago’s North Side, a stranger stopped him. He said, “Thank you for your service” — and he handed him a ticket to see the Cubs play in the World Series. (Applause.) Now, it’s a good thing Irving took that ticket — (laughter) — because it would be a while until his next chance. (Laughter.)

Irving worked hard, managing the warehouse for his brother-in-law’s tire company. He got married — to a sergeant in the Women’s Air Corps, no less. He raised four children — the oldest of whom, Susan, is celebrating her 71st birthday today. And on a June morning many years ago, another one of Irving’s daughters, Carole, called to check in. Her mother answered but was in a rush. “We can’t talk,” she said, “your father is being honored and we’re late.” Carole asked, “Honored for what?” And the answer came: for his heroism in the skies above Normandy exactly 50 years earlier.

You see, Irving’s children never knew that their father flew over those French beachheads on D-Day. He never mentioned it. Now when they call to check in, his children always say, “Thank you for saving the world.” And Irving, sharp as ever at 100 years young, always replies, “Well, I had a little help.” (Laughter.)

Whenever the world makes you cynical, whenever you doubt that courage and goodness and selflessness is possible, stop and look to a veteran. They don’t always go around telling stories of their heroism, so it’s up to us to ask and to listen, to tell those stories for them, and to live in our own lives the values for which they were prepared to give theirs.

It’s up to us to make sure they always get the care that they need. As Bob mentioned, when I announced my candidacy for this office almost a decade ago, I recommitted this generation to that work. And we’ve increased funding for veterans by more than 85 percent. We’ve cut veteran homelessness almost in half. Today, more veterans have access to health care and fewer are unemployed. (Applause.) We helped disabled veterans afford prosthetics. We’re delivering more mental health care services to more veterans than ever before because we know that not all wounds of war are visible.

Together, we began this work. Together, we must continue to keep that sacred trust with our veterans and honor their good work with our own, knowing that our mission is never done. It is still a tragedy that 20 veterans a day take their own lives. We have to get them the help they need. We have to keep solving problems like long wait times at the VA. We have to keep cutting the disability claims backlog. We have to resist any effort to outsource and privatize the health care we owe America’s veterans. (Applause.)

On Veterans Day, we acknowledge, humbly, that we can never serve our veterans in quite the same that they served us. But we can try. We can practice kindness. We can pay it forward. We can volunteer. We can serve. We can respect one another. We can always get each other’s backs.

That is what Veterans Day asks all of us to think about. The person you pass as you walk down the street might not be wearing our nation’s uniform today. But consider for a moment that a year or a decade or a generation ago, he or she might have been one of our fellow citizens who was willing to lay down their life for strangers like us. And we can show how much we love our country by loving our neighbors as ourselves.

May God bless all who served and still do. And may God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

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Snowflake Obsidian & PTSD

A few years ago, I went through an intensive PTSD treatment program on Fort Hood called the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program. I wrote about that in a little more detail here. It was an intensive, 3-week long, outpatient program. It was our place of business those three weeks. We had to be evaluated and accepted into the program based on the severity of our PTSD and upon approval from our units. In other words, we really had to be hurting and almost at the end of our ropes to get admitted, but it was a voluntary program. Some people decided they couldn’t meet the requirements to complete the program because it required active participation and dropped out.

When we graduated, our counselors gave us a few way to help us cope with future stressors and also to remember the progress we made through the course. The first one was a gold hat hook that goes on the brim of a hat or placed somewhere prominently where we can see it (unfortunately, I lost the hat mine was on). The second was a set of little star stickers – the kind teachers use to put on a chart in elementary school if you were good or completed your assignments. We were supposed to put the stars in places we frequent, like the bathroom cabinet, refrigerator, wallet, rearview mirror, etc. The idea was that these stars represent bright point in our lives; to cling to them; and remember that our lives are worthwhile. The third was a rock called snowflake obsidian, which I want to talk more in depth about because I think it will help all my readers, not just military veterans.

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Image Credit: Los Angeles Times

When The Troops Cry

In mid-2008, then-Senator Barack Obama gave an interview on military and troops issues.

“Precisely because I have not served in uniform, I am somebody who strongly believes I have to earn the trust of men and women in uniform,” Obama said as he contrasted his lack of service with that of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, a former prisoner of war, Vietnam veteran and Navy retiree who has years of experience in Congress working on national security issues.

“I do not presume that from the day I am sworn in, every single service man or woman suddenly says, This guy knows what he is doing,’ ” said Obama, a freshman senator from Illinois, in his most extensive interview to date on a wide range of military issues.

He wanted those of us in uniform to look at him as “a guy looking out for us and not someone trying to score cheap political points.” A few months later, Obama was elected to be the next commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

In mid-2009, a few military bloggers and I were invited to meet with Obama administration in the Roosevelt Room next to the Oval Office. Unlike when I went to the White House in 2007 during the Bush Administration, Obama didn’t come out to meet with us in person. Whereas the Bush administration embraced the autonomy of bloggers to tell their stories, it quickly became apparent that the Obama administration wanted us to push an agenda.
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Post 9/11 GI Bill Benefit

When I joined the Army back in 1994, I never expected it to be a long-term commitment. When I was first called by the recruiter I had long purple hair and was enjoying my now-extinct, minimum wage job at Blockbuster Music in San Antonio. My sister had given them my name after feeling bad for backing out of her decision to join. When the recruiter called me, I told him I wasn’t interested. He asked me what I was doing with my life and what my interests were.

Now, I was making great money as a DJ prior to moving back to Texas after I graduated from high school in Japan. In fact, I was making about $50 per hour DJing clubs oversees. When my dad moved to Jacksonville, Florida, I began DJing weddings and made even more money – upwards of $150 per hour. However, I hated having to deal with the Momzillas and Bridezillas. No amount of money was worth that. So, I moved back to my home state of Texas and found another job where I could be around the music I loved.

While the recruiter was talking to me, I realized I had no real direction in my life. But, I didn’t really see myself doing well under the strict, authoritarian requirements of military service. After some prodding, I agreed to take the ASVAB, but only on the condition they come to me with it. Apparently, he had to get special permission to do it that way. I ended up scoring really high on the general technical (GT), electronics (EL), surveillance and communications (SC) and skilled technical (ST) portions of the test, but I didn’t like any of the jobs that opened up to me but one – military police.
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Remove This Cup

Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” – Luke 22:42

These were the words of our Savior Jesus Christ that he prayed to Heavenly Father as he knelt on his knees and bled for the sins of all mankind. His mission on earth put him in the public spotlight whether he liked it or not, earning him both praise and scorn by the public and government officials. I don’t deign to pretend that I am ANYTHING close to Christ or that my experiences are even comparable, but there hasn’t been a day in the past few years where I haven’t said that same prayer over and over and over again. I never wanted to be in the public spotlight. I never asked to be a public figure.
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Don’t Blame Me If Trump Loses

This is probably the nastiest and most negative campaign season since John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were at each other’s throats in the 1800 election. The difference this year is that instead of two generally respectable people running against each other, there are two despicably horrible candidates. On one side, you have the Republican nominee who still isn’t a known quantity on conservative issues who is a vulgar and offensive individual. On the other hand, you have a corrupt, morally bankrupt politician who should be running a chain gang, not the country.

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In the past, when I wasn’t happy with either choice I could look further down the ticket for another candidate worth voting for. However, even the Libertarians don’t provide a viable option this year. As of this writing, I’m completely skipping filling in a bubble for a presidential candidate. Because of this, I’ve been told that if Clinton wins it’s my fault. I reject this kind of thinking and I’ll explain why.
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Will Fools Fulminate the Fourth Amendment?

Unless you live under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard about all the incidents involving people dressed as clowns. It started as people just showing up on various security systems dressed up as clowns. It was creepy at first if you view it that way. I thought it was funny myself. However, after a couple of people wearing clown costumes allegedly attempted to lure some children, the country has lost its mind about clowns.

There have been several reports of clowns allegedly trying to lure kids to them in other states, and now there are concerns of creepy activity online in West Michigan.

Police in South Haven say there are no actual sightings, but there have been threats made to students on Facebook.

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Temple Police SGT Thomas Menix, left, assists Officer Steve Ermis in illegally disarming a law abiding citizen.

Unequal Protection Under the Law

If you wanted a summary of how the Texas “criminal” justice system works, here’s a snapshot.

If you’re a uniformed police officer and badged bully, your assault charges get dropped, you get months of paid “administrative leave” sitting at home, and eventually forced to endure two weeks of unpaid “punishment.”

If you’re a citizen simply walking down the wrong side of the road, you have a gun stuck to your head, you’re illegally disarmed, thrown in jail, forced to endure TWO trials because they were adamant about teaching you a lesson, and finally keep changing the charges until they can convict you of that you weren’t even arrested for.

From the Temple Daily Telegram:

Temple Police Sgt. Thomas Menix received a 15-day suspension without pay effective Monday in connection with a Class C misdemeanor assault charge brought against him by the Port Aransas Police Department, Temple City Secretary Lacy Borgeson reported Tuesday.

Menix, a 27-year veteran of the Temple Police Department was arrested on April 16 while he was off duty. A Port Aransas Police Department incident report said Menix was intoxicated and bit a woman.

Temple Police SGT Thomas Menix, left, assists Officer Steve Ermis in illegally disarming a law abiding citizen.

Temple Police SGT Thomas Menix, left, assists Officer Steve Ermis in illegally disarming a law abiding citizen.

One of the responding officers to my false arrest and illegal disarming was SGT Thomas Menix (pictured above left). One of the statements he made during the assault and abuse of authority was, “we’re exempt from the law.” Turns out he was right. There is a separate standard between law enforcement and their citizenry subjects. So much for “equal protection under the law.”

You can watch the full video of my arrest here.

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DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Staff Sgt. Adam S. Thomas, 31, of Tacoma Park, Maryland, died Oct. 4 in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, from injuries caused by an improvised explosive device that exploded during dismounted operations. The incident is under investigation.

Thomas was assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Carson, Colorado.

Rest in peace brother.

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Why You Should Support Allowing Felons to Keep and Bear Arms

When people hear that I support allowing felons to keep and bear arms in self defense, people are up in arms. “How can you support violent felons having the right to guns?” Then, when they find out I don’t support background checks either, they label me as an extremist or some other epithet. I am actually a very tough-on-crime guy. So, I hope you’ll hear me out. I think you’ll come to agree with my reasoning – if you believe in liberty.
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Media Response to Trump’s Remarks on PTSD Triggered My PTSD

It’s no secret that I’m not a Trump fan. In fact, this will be the first election in my memory where I refuse to check a box for president. I’m a #NeverHillary guy, but Trump may change my mind about him after his first term (yes, I think he will ultimately win the election). No candidate has my vote. It is earned, not expected, so don’t even bother me with that social brainwashing line that “not voting for Trump is a vote for Hillary” nonsense. Not voting for Hillary is not voting for Hillary and not voting for Trump is not voting for Trump. To assume otherwise is to assume than any candidate automatically has my vote before they even run for office just because they have a certain letter behind their name come election time. I’m a small government guy and neither candidate in my mind represents small government. They simply represent big government right or big government left. I’ve also stayed quite objective, praising Trump when due and criticizing likewise.

That said, all this media hype about Trump’s remarks on PTSD are completely out in left field, baseless and dishonest. I think Trump was right in the totality of what he said and when taken in context. As someone who has fought his own demons associated with PTSD as well helped other troops afflicted, I understand what he meant and he was spot on.
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Gods Among Human Beings

Aristotle wrote in The Politics that those with the most virtue make the best rulers. He noted that since the purpose of government was to instill and encourage virtue in the citizenry, the rulers must obviously be quite virtuous. However, he also cautioned against such “exceptional virtue” existing in one person or small group of persons.

“If there is one person so outstanding by his excess of virtue – or a number of persons, though not enough to provide a full complement for the city – that the virtue of all the others and their political capacity is not commensurable…such persons can no longer be regarded as part of the city”

In fact, such a person “would reasonably be regarded as a god among human beings” he noted.

I couldn’t help but think about Aristotle’s “god among human beings” statement when reading this:

Immunity deals for two top Hillary Clinton aides included a side arrangement obliging the FBI to destroy their laptops after reviewing the devices, House Judiciary Committee sources told Fox News on Monday.

Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public — in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.

The Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee fired off a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking why the DOJ and FBI agreed to the restrictive terms, including that the FBI would destroy the laptops after finishing the search.

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VA Extends Its Neglect of Veterans from Living to Deceased

The Veterans Administration is again proving to be a woefully incompetent agency that just can’t seem to realize that their entire purpose for existence is to take care of the people who put their lives on the line to fight this nation’s wars. It has just one job: take care of veterans.

It appears that the VA’s neglect of its benefactors now extends beyond the realm of the living.

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The Case From Hell

A few days ago, frustration over my case again began to creep in. After all, I’m stuck in legal limbo until the 3rd Court of Appeals issues a ruling on my appeal. Self Defense Fund filed the appeal in March 2014, almost exactly a year after my false arrest and shortly after the second trial that resulted in a corrupt “conviction.” On February 23 of this year (seriously, 2.23), the court heard my appeal and just needed to release an opinion.

It is now October and we still haven’t heard anything. I wanted to know if this was normal or if something was going on. Meanwhile, I’m still “convicted” of a crime I didn’t commit, which is putting a lot of my life on hold. I have been wanting to start teaching LTC classes while I’m going to school, but under Texas law if I don’t qualify for a license to carry, I can’t teach the class either. Texas has an unconstitutional law that strips Texans “convicted” of minor, non-violent offenses of their right to keep and bear arms. It is illegal to carry a firearm outside the home or office (unless in a vehicle) without a license. So anyone that is “convicted” in a Texas court for any misdemeanor offense loses their rights for five years – just like a felon. The only other option is to get a nonresident permit from a reciprocal state to carry “legally.” Ironically, I got a letter from DPS about two weeks ago reminding me that my license to carry is set to expire in March and that I need to renew it! Texas has had my license suspended longer than I’ve been able to use it! Regardless, I’ll never get another Texas license until it pass constitutional carry, then I’ll only get it for convenience if they reduce the outrageous 2nd amendment tax.

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A New Beginning

1560642_636887589691198_2133390617_nI’ve decided to leave social media on October 1. It’s nothing but a “wretched hive of scum and villainy.” It brings out the worst in people, myself included. Besides, it’s much easier to discuss things more in depth here than in a Facebook or Twitter posting. So, I’ve decided to return back to the tried and true blog! I’ll be talking about military and national defense related things as well as government and constitutional issues. Basically, I’m getting back to the way it was before, but will probably have a heavier emphasis on gun rights and rights issues than before. I’m also going to use the freed up time to finish the book I’ve been writing for several years.
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