Updated on May 3, 2016
It’s campaign season, as if you needed to know that. Politicians on the left and right are clamoring for endorsements from their respective philosophical leanings. Liberals desperately seek out acceptance from MoveOn.org, Black Lives Matter, gun control groups and baby killers, among others. Conservatives search far and wide for the nod from ALEC, National Right to Life, Tea Party Patriots (and really all tea party groups), and the NRA, among others. But, does an NRA endorsement really mean anything?
Here in Texas, not a single non-incumbent candidate has received an NRA endorsement. Instead, the NRA is endorsing very moderate Republicans who aren’t that friendly to gun rights at over more ardent and liberty-minded candidates.
Case in point: House District 73 candidate Kyle Biedermann is by far a better candidate on gun rights. He believes in repealing all gun control laws, instituting constitutional carry, and insulating Texans from federal gun-related overreach. Doug Miller, the incumbent, not only refused to sign on to HB 195 – the constitutional carry bill filed by uber-conservative Jonathan Stickland – but he opposed a measure that would have protected law abiding gun owners from law enforcement harassment. Of course, the NRA also did nothing to pass constitutional carry and also opposed 4th amendment protections for gun owners, so I guess that’s to be expected. Other examples are the district 128 race (where moderate incumbent Wayne Smith was chosen over another liberty minded, pro-gun conservative, Briscoe Cain) and Senate District 24, where the NRA chose an incumbent who has more in common with liberal Democrats than Republicans and who also refused to endorse constitutional carry and opposed the Rinaldi/Huffines gun owner protection amendment. Dawn Buckingham, King’s opponent, has made very clear that not only does she support constitutional carry, but she will sign on as a co-author or co-sponsor. King has refused to respond to that question.
In 2012, the NRA endorsed incumbent Ralph Sheffield who lost to Molly White. Sheffield was an extremely moderate Republican who also refused to endorse unlicensed carry because “it would cost the state too much revenue to remove the mandatory license.” Molly White ended up being one of the top conservatives in the House and was one of the few candidates to sign on to constitutional carry.
In state after state, we see the NRA choosing establishment Republicans who will sign nearly any pro-gun bill that comes across their desk, but won’t put their name on the line to endorse tough legislation that goes further in recognizing our rights than the incremental steps legislators like to take to stay relevant and keep NRA funds flooding in for years to come. After all, if constitutional carry were the order of the day in all states, what fight would legislators have that required PAC money?
Before anyone accuses me of being an NRA hater, I’m an Endowment Life and Golden Eagles member of the NRA. I’ve given the organization thousands of dollars in donations over the years. However, because of their actions in Texas the past few years, I will no longer send them another dime.
So, when incumbent candidates tell you they are A+ rated or endorsed by the NRA over their primary opponents, ask yourself how much that endorsement is actually worth considering their history. Only in extremely rare circumstances do they select the opponent of an incumbent, even when they have an Aq rating.
Updated on May 3, 2016
(Note: Because this is a blog read across the country and world, I won’t typically talk about such local issues as this one here, except from time to time.)
When I joined the Army over 20 years ago, I was required to take the following oath:
“I, CJ Grisham, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.”
When I took that oath, it meant something to me. It wasn’t a rite of passage, it was a lifelong commitment to the protecting the principles of liberty upon which this country was founded. I take a very originalist position on the Constitution and I don’t have no deviation. I spent over 20 years upholding that oath in the Army, but my oath didn’t end when I retired and took off my nation’s uniform. It’s an oath I will defend with my life.
When I was running for State Senate in Texas, I was doing so because the previous state senator (Troy Fraser) wasn’t upholding the oath he took to serve and protect our liberties. Last year, he refused to sign onto pro-liberty legislation as a co-sponsor or co-author. I got the standard political double speak of “if it comes to a vote, I’ll vote it.” That’s a cop-out for plausible deniability. They can claim to support gun rights by saying they’ll vote for the bill on the floor, then proclaim how sorry they were they never got to vote for it because it was never brought up for a vote. This is the same game that Governor Abbott played. He refused to sign on to this legislation so I vowed to run against him. However, he decided to retire, so I ran as I said I would. During the campaign, I realized that there were other candidates that believed the same way I did, so I dropped out to support them.
Right now in Texas, we have a choice to make in the race for State Senate to fill this important seat. I’m frankly fed up with politicians who say they are one thing and do quite another. Case in point is State Representative Susan King who also threw her hat into the ring. Susan King has a paltry record of supporting pro-liberty, small government, life protecting, and sovereignty asserting legislation. She has a failing grade from nearly every conservative organization in Texas. Yet, she’s running as the best thing for liberty since Thomas Paine.
She refused to even co-author or co-sponsor a bill to recognize the inalienable rights if Texans to keep and bear arms without a permission. She did so at the direction of Straus as he pressured many lawmakers. King thinks that law abiding citizens should be tracked by the government and taxed on their liberties. She also views a handgun license as a revenue generation tool for the state. Finally, she didn’t support the Rinaldo/Huffines amendment to protect gun owners from harassment by law enforcement when it went to a conference committee.
One of the things that Susan King loves to tout is her chairmanship on the House Defense and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Like her liberal colleague, Jimmy Don Aycock, she only got the position because a military base in her district. As she campaigns, she has tried to use her position on this committee as some sort of bona fides for supporting her, as if it means she did anything for veterans in the ONE session she was on the committee. But, listening to her, you’d think she was hand selected for her philanthropic achievements for veterans.
Let’s look at her voting record and where she stands on liberty by the numbers just on bills she co-authored.
- HB 2 – she voted YES on a Bill that allows for abortion up to 20 weeks.
- HB 80 – this bill makes it a crime to use your cell phone or any “portable wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle.” Naturally, law enforcement is exempt because they are better than everyone else and for some reason are more capable of using them than the rest of the proletariat.
- HB 2171 – this bill allows the government to collect personal immunization records of individuals until they are 26 unless they read every big government bill that gets passed and knows they need to rescind permission to maintain records on their immunizations in writing. The bill raised the age these records are maintained from 18 to 26. More nanny state legislation.
- HB 2813 – this bill issued more mandates for insurance companies in Texas to provide additional coverage. In other words, bringing more Obamacare-style health care mandates to Texas and jacking up costs.
The fact is that Susan King never authored a single bill that would have furthered liberty in Texas. While other conservatives were filing bills to cut off funding and resources to NSA spy operations within our borders, bring Texas gold back to Texas, prevent Texas resources from being used to enforce unconstitutional federal edicts, and cut off funds to illegals among other things, King was busy working to grow Obamacare, increase spending, and collude with Democrats. She refused to sign on to constitutional carry legislation (if you can legally own and purchase a firearm, you can legally carry that firearm without a government permission slip.
“I have served with Susan King in the Texas House for two sessions. That is why it is an easy decision to support her opponent Dr. Dawn Buckingham,” stated Rep. Stickland.
“I hope Texans in [Texas Senate District] 24 are not fooled by Rep. King’s campaign rhetoric. They should be aware of her record of voting to expand Obamacare in Texas and being weak on border security. More often than acceptable she chose to side with Democrats instead of conservatives in the Texas House, I have no doubt she would do the same in the Senate if elected. Dr. Buckingham has proven that she is a conservative fighter who won’t enter the Senate chambers with strings attached and favors to pay back unlike her opponent. I urge everyone to vote for Dr. Buckingham in the runoff election on May 24th.”
Susan King is known for her repetitious wardrobe of red coats and skirts wherever she goes. However, when Abortion Barbie Wendy Davis was on the Senate Floor trying to filibuster legislation that would make killing unborn children after 20 weeks of gestation, King was there wearing ORANGE instead of red. Why? Because the color orange was the color worn by the pro-abortion supporters during their protests of the 2013 legislative sessions. Here’s the proof.
Some have said that she was just there to see what was going on and that it was coincidence that she was wearing orange. Others have said that it wasn’t really orange, just bad coloring. Yet, no one can deny she is being flanked by Democrats also wearing orange. And in case a picture doesn’t speak 1000 words, here are Susan King’s OWN words about the filibuster.
“I can’t separate the fact that I’m a nurse and have been,” King said. “I can’t separate the fact that I’m a mother and a grandmother. These are all very personal issues to a woman.”
“Women have a constitutional right to a safe and legal abortion within certain pentameters,” King said.
Susan King is no Texas conservative. It’s questionable whether she’s even a Texan in my mind. Dr. Buckingham will honor that oath to defend liberty and life in the Texas Senate!
Posted on May 1, 2016
I’ve been a longtime user of Facebook. I’ve plugged my nose and put up with the silly policies and political nonsense from its founders and its push to destroy family and Christian values for a long time. So far this year, I’ve literally been blocked for Facebook 50% of the time. I’m now on my second 30-day suspension after several two-week “administrative leave vacations” and even more day or week long bans. It’s gotten really out of hand.
Anyone that has read this blog for any length of time knows that I’m not one who pulls many punches. I wear my beliefs on my sleeve and I’m not afraid to stand up for what I believe in. I’m also not afraid to offend people because being offended is how you get stronger. We now live in a society where the “suck it up” mentality is no longer about dealing with it and more about…well, literally sucking it up. We are forced to accept unnatural and disgusting lifestyles as natural and celebratory.
Let me make something clear before I continue, because this is an important point that needs to be put out there. I don’t care who you love. I don’t care who you lie down with naked. That’s none of my business. The government has ZERO role in dictating who can and cannot get married to whom. I don’t care if you marry your sister, father, cousin or roommate in basic training. However, do NOT expect me to accept or celebrate your depravity.
I first began fighting this mentality in the 90s when Clinton was removing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy from the military. At the time, I was hosting a popular radio show on Fort Irwin’s KNTC where we talked about the news of the day, played music and performed comedy skits. But, when I started talking about the DADT policy, I was immediately told I couldn’t talk about “gay” people. So, I didn’t. I talked about “shiny, happy people” to get my point across. I perfected the art of innuendo to discuss what was a hot topic of the day, but I never backed down.
When I became a platoon sergeant, I had to fight the Army’s “equal opportunity” system because when I took over my platoon one of the admin Soldiers was not being forced to go to the field with the rest of us because she was a single mother. I ended that on day one and made her go to the field like everyone else. There’s a reason we have “family care plans” in the Army. They are designed for these purposes. However, treating her like every other Soldier I had resulted me in being accused of being a sexist and singling her out for being a single mother in spite of the fact that I made EVERYONE, single or not, go to the field. I had to deal with “investigations” that all came to the same conclusion: I was no sexist or racist or whatever. Not one Soldier ever said I treated him/her better or worse than the rest (except that one).
Most of the time, I have no idea why I’m being blocked because most of the time they don’t tell you. When you go to log into Facebook, you generally get a message that “something you posted” violated Facebook’s community “standards” without ever actually telling you what you posted. There were a few times I was made aware, like when I posted this graphic to criticize a liberal anti-gun nutjob who was going around trying to make veterans with PTSD appear unhinged and volatile. With the passage of Texas’ recent open carry law, he stole the design of an Open Carry Texas “No Guns No Money” card and reworded it to suit his Democrat, liberal, anti-gun agenda. The card stated that if a business didn’t ban open carry, seeing a gun would trigger his PTSD and he wouldn’t spend money there. Dysfunctional Veteran Art Leal was behind the stupidity and I called him out on it. Instead of simply “sucking it up” and driving on, he reported my graphic for “violating” community standards AND FACEBOOK ACTUALLY REMOVED IT!! I immediately reposted it and Facebook not only removed the image after disgraced veteran Leal again complained, but they blocked me from posting ANYTHING for two weeks. Here’s the graphic I created, which is in used in compliance with the Fair Use Act, 17 U.S. Code:
So, what was I blocked for this time? For asking a question:
It’s okay for the mentally ill cross-dressers and their liberal (and even “libertarian”) enablers to attack others and attack their religion, beliefs, political philosophies, etc., but when it comes time for them to get it back, they run with their yellow tails tucked between their legs whining to Daddy Facebucks. They can’t stomach any opinion other than theirs and since they can’t challenge their opponents to an intelligent and intellectual debate, they simply seek to shut their critics up however they can.
As Fox’s “The Five” host, Greg Gutfield, so eloquently put it, these people are “so brainwashed [they] claim blocking speech is actually a version of free-speech. It’s not a bug in the system, it’s now the system — the result of the left’s long free reign over campus brain matter,” Gutfeld added. Even liberal kabillionaire Michael Bloomberg is railing against the lack of spine or skin by the entitlement generation and their enablers of my generation.
Well, I’m done with it. Once my 30-day suspension is over, I’ll be downloading my Facebook profile and shutting down my account there. I will come back and do my writing on my own blog where liberals can whine, moan and complain all they want and no one will hear them. I’ve kind of missed writing here anyway, so it’ll be good to reactivate this page. Facebook has every right to run their business however they see fit. I just won’t have any part of it.
I’ll be talking about the same things I always have: military and veterans issues, PTSD, public policy, gun rights, foreign affairs, and whatever else comes to mind.
It’s good to be back.
Posted on April 3, 2016
Do you know which presidents never attended college? Do you know which president gave the longest state of union address and was also the president for only a month before his death? Do you know which was the first president to be awarded the Medal of Honor or which one saved a fellow sailor’s life by pulling him to safety while swimming with the man’s life jacket strap clinched in his teeth?
These are just some of the great little tidbits that author Bill Yenne brings to life in the new Zenith Press book, “The Complete Book of Presidents.” Unlike many books who only select a few presidents or who only provide limited, boring stats and information, Yenne does a great job of summarizing the lives of each of our 44 presidents, from George Washington and his bravery as a battlefield commander to Barack Obama and his bravery as a, well, community organizer. Don’t worry, the book is very apolitical and doesn’t seem to take a side towards one particular ideology. It’s very well written and sticks to facts, not political rhetoric and historical revisionism.
Each profile contains a brief biographical essay about the candidate. However, Yenne goes even deeper. Included with each president is also a short biography of the First Ladies along with illustrated sidebars about each president’s vice president(s).
The Complete Book of US President is a great addition to the library of any history buff and makes a perfect coffee table book or discussion piece. It’s easy to read and engaging, unlike many of these types of books that tend to be dry and monotonous. In today’s heated political climate, it’s easy to assume that the rancor and divisiveness is a new invention of an every increasing chasm between political parties and ideas. As you’ll quickly find, not much has really changed since Federalist Party candidate John Adams narrowly defeated Democratic-Republican Party candidate Thomas Jefferson in a very contentious campaign. Only the names have changed.
Pick up a copy pretty much everywhere books are sold. Or, you can win your own copy by leaving a comment on this post about which president you look up to the most and why. A commenter will be chosen at random to win their own copy of this amazing book! So, let’s hear it. Who was your favorite President and why?
Posted on March 7, 2016
After firing off a medley of artillery rounds, a 19-year-old kid from Brooklyn, New York set off with his convoy traversing the very area they had just fired on.
“People don’t understand that maybe we didn’t shoot a lot of people in close combat with rifles, but to see the destruction of artillery and what it does to people and to equipment, to see people, hundreds of people dead, and driving by two or three days afterward, it’s something that sticks with you for a long time,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Edgar Fuentes, the command sergeant major of the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment.
It was during the Gulf War that Fuentes was first introduced to the realities of post-traumatic stress disorder, but it would be decades before he felt comfortable seeking help and finding an effective outlet for the barrage of intense thoughts and emotions.
But in the beginning, it was a different Army then.
“You’re weak if you talk about it,” Fuentes said. “In 1990, you didn’t talk about how you’re not able to sleep or you’re waking up in the middle of the night. There was no talking about going to get help. It was not like it is today, user-friendly and encouraging.”
Between then and now, the Army culture has adopted a much keener eye, compassionate heart and helping hand for identifying and treating Soldiers with PTSD and other mental health issues.
As part of his therapy, Fuentes and his therapist set out to find his “happy place.”
“We started digging into things that put me in my happy place,” he said. “We were trying to figure out where can we find the Fuentes that was before, because I was a happy, motivated guy, but that was going away, so what was it I used to do that maintained me like that? What is a thing that I did in the past that could help me to deal with the PTSD without me knowing it?”
It turned out his “happy place” was in the boxing ring.
“I started going to the gym and training Soldiers,” said the 28-year Army veteran. “My lunch was going out of here, going to the gym, practicing fighting, teaching Soldiers who had upcoming fights, and then at nighttime Saturday and Sunday I did it. And I was able to cope with all the stress and depression and anxiety that I had, so it was working, and I said, ‘This is it.’ My doctor said, ‘This is you. This is you.’ Of course, I still go to counseling. That’s not the remedy of all, but it helped me tremendously.”
Although, the Army had put services and resources for coping with PTSD in place much earlier than Fuentes actually took advantage of them, he had a lingering fear of the stigma that is often associated with mental health concerns.
“Every time I came back from deployment, we did the reverse [Soldier Readiness Processing], and they asked have you had an issue, do you want to see someone,” Fuentes said. “Of course, it’s no, because you don’t want that – the stigma, you know. I’m a sergeant first class. I want to make E-8. The stigma was if you have a mental health issue, I don’t think, the Army was prepared to work with you, so they just set you aside. I knew if I was put in that equation, I would never get promoted. I knew this for a fact.”
In addition to the stigma, maintaining a security clearance was also a concern for those struggling with PTSD, but in 2008 the wording of Question #21 on the SF86 was changed to “Mental health counseling in and of itself is not a reason to revoke or deny a clearance.”
The mental health climate was becoming more favorable, but Fuentes was still struggling with the idea of getting help.
“I was concerned how people were going to look at me as a first sergeant or a platoon sergeant,” he said. “When the conversation started about encouraging Soldiers to seek help, there was still a stigma. Because I’ve been in those meetings where people say, ‘He’s broke.’ I’ve been in those meetings. Every time I hear somebody say, ‘He’s broke,’ I have to calm down, because I want to say so many things. I was concerned about losing my military bearing, because they were talking about me.”
It wasn’t until he began to see the effect his PTSD was having on his family that he decided to see a doctor.
“It got to a point in my life where I knew that my family was suffering based on my PTSD,” he said. “I’m sad to say my relationship with my wife and kids was not what it should be. I felt comfortable among my people, so I stayed longer at work, not needing to be there. It’s just, it was easier for me to stay here with the people that I had here instead of going home.”
Fuentes said he was always supportive of Soldiers who came to him expressing difficulties coping with PTSD, but did not seek help himself.
Along with seeing his counselor regularly, coaching the Soldiers at Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center on Wednesdays at lunchtime and on the weekends, gives him back the happy, motivated guy he was before all the gruesome images of war and multiple deployments.
“The adrenaline you get from learning and teaching somebody to do something and seeing them develop through their training,” Fuentes said, “and when it comes down to fighting, and we’re actually in the cage or in the ring about to perform and all of that hard work you did for eight weeks of training, and you see it works, and we get a win. It’s satisfying. It’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
He regularly expresses his gratitude to the Soldiers he trains.
“I always tell them, you guys help me more than I can ever help you guys,” he said. “So I give them the skills of fighting and give them what I know about fighting, but they don’t have an idea of the things that this does for me.”
And the feeling is mutual among the fighters.
“He comes in and coaches a lot of us in boxing,” said Sgt. 1st Class Colton Smith, combatives noncommissioned officer in charge at the Kieschnick Physical Fitness Center. “He’s helped me quite a bit. Being a command sergeant major coming in here and helping out Soldiers no matter their rank, he comes in and he wants to help Soldiers, and he’s talked about it multiple times how this helps him combat his demons.”
“Seeing a senior noncommissioned officer that’s done stellar things in his career, hearing him talk about his journey, his testimony, I think it shows young Soldiers not to be afraid to let it be known that you’re having these issues, and okay combatives and boxing is the way he deals with it,” Smith said. “You need to find you’re outlet. Maybe combatives isn’t it, so you’ll find your outlet, because you know there’s an outlet just right for you.”
By Staff Sgt. Leah Kilpatrick
Posted on March 6, 2016
I graduated from the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program in 2013 and can testify that this is a proven technique. It’s a little weird at first, but within moments, you are calm and relaxed. This is a press release from the company that makes them and I wanted to share. In fact, I should probably be using it a bit more frequently these days.
Electromedical Products International, Inc. (EPI), a manufacturer and developer of devices that utilize electric waveforms for therapeutic purposes, announces the publication of a report, “Effects of Integrative PTSD Treatment in a Military Health Setting”, which outlines the effectiveness of the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program (Reset) in reducing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among active-duty military personnel.
The Reset Program, an innovative intensive outpatient behavioral health program conducted using cranial electrical stimulation (CES) with EPI’s Alpha-Stim® technology, trauma-focused behavioral health techniques and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as well as anxiety, depression and pain, in a cohort of 764 active service members treated at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood, Texas. Using a verified PTSD scoring system, the Reset Program yielded an average 10-point improvement in PTSD scores from pre- to post-treatment over the 5 years of the program, with improvement as high as 14 points in the last years.
“This report shows the value of including complementary and alternative treatment approaches, including CES, in a vulnerable and at-risk population of patients. The Reset Program used CES to address the neuropsychological precursor of PTSD symptom clusters as well as the resulting symptoms of PTSD-induced stresses, providing further demonstration of the broad applications for electromedicine,” said Jerry Wesch, PhD, former Director of the Warrior Combat Stress Reset Program, Fort Hood, Texas, and one of the authors of the report. “Soldiers with PTSD are complex. Most have Chronic Pain Syndrome, at least 80% have headaches and about 40% have concussion histories. CES is significantly useful in all three, plus depression and anxiety. CES (Alpha Stim) should be standard first-line care in this population.”
The program evaluation report, which was published in the November issue of Energy Psychology, highlights that as many as 28% of American soldiers develop PTSD as a result of combat stress. Traditional approaches to managing PTSD have focused on cognitive-behavior and exposure theory. However, researchers have begun to focus on more holistic intervention programs that also incorporate CAM and mind-body treatments. In the Reset Program, CES with EPI’s Alpha-Stim® technology was used to both attenuate hyperarousal—a state of psychological tension known to potentiate PTSD symptom clusters—and to reduce intrusive symptoms, such as sleep disturbance, pain, headaches, avoidance and residual post-concussion symptoms.
The Reset Program combined conventional allopathic and alternative/complementary techniques in a stepwise intervention among a large group of group of soldiers diagnosed with moderate to severe combat PTSD:
- Phase 1 involved strategies intended to reduce hyperarousal through use of CAM, CES and active self-regulation strategies, including breathing exercises, muscle relaxation and mindfulness.
- In Phase 2 patients continued with CES while adding neurofeedback training, acupuncture, massage, yoga, tai chi and Reiki practice to reduce symptoms such as sleep disturbances, pain and headaches. In addition, trauma memories were directly targeted for interventions via 1:1 therapies and group procedures.
- In the third and final Phase, patients received help in identifying triggers of traumatic stress and were trained to help them manage such instances. Trauma-focused group and individual psychotherapy continued through all Phases.
The researchers demonstrated year-over-year improvements in symptom scores with high patient satisfaction and extremely low dropout rates. Using various verified scoring algorithms, the researchers noted statistically and clinically significant improvements in measurements of PTSD symptoms (up to -14 pre- to post-treatment), depression (mean difference -9.0 pre- to post-treatment), anxiety (mean difference -6.3 pre- to post-treatment, pain (mean difference -2.4 pre- to post-treatment) and resilience (mean difference +6.8 pre- to post-treatment).
According to the report, “The Reset Program appears to have been very successful in meeting its stated goals and objectives.” The researchers noted it was difficult to identify the contributions of the individual techniques to the improvements noted, but concluded the outcomes were likely due to the holistic synergy of the program. The authors recommended ongoing studies to understand each element of the treatment protocol and its influence on addressing PTSD and its symptoms.
“The results of the Reset Program were both statistically and clinically significant, but we think the patient population provides an additional level of impact of these data,” said Tracey B. Kirsch, President, Electromedical Products International, Inc. “The care of our veterans should constitute a high priority for our healthcare system, and we are most proud of EPI’s ability to contribute to this important research.”
Alpha-Stim is a clinically proven intervention that uses a proprietary electrical waveform pattern to modulate cell signaling in the central nervous system (CNS). Studies show that electrochemical signaling in the CNS has a significant impact on pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia, among other disorders. The Alpha-Stim has been validated in over 95 independent, controlled research studies since it was first introduced in 1981, and has proven to be a safe, efficacious and cost-effective intervention for a variety of disorders originating in the CNS.
Updated on December 30, 2015
I wanted to write this on my personal blog because I didn’t want anyone to get the idea that Open Carry Texas is giving legal advice. No one should assume that I am giving legal advice because I’m not. This is an open letter to Texas law enforcement that believe they have the authority to stop Texans solely based on open carry. Some point to the fact that since the Dutton/Rinaldi/Huffines amendments weren’t added to HB 910 (the Texas Open Carry Law) it means they have the green light to stop us without probable cause (PC) or reasonable suspicion (RS). I will begin by saying that there are two legal arguments out there by attorneys arguing different interpretations of the law. Some I agree with and some I don’t based on my personal research into this issue. When I point out what the legislature actually said in passing the bill, they say, “see! Constitutional Carry didn’t pass!”
They are absolutely, 100% wrong. Constitutional Carry never even got a hearing in committee. The constitutional carry amendment was deemed “not relevant” to the bill. I was there. I saw it with my own two eyes and heard it with my own two ears. They were talking about the Dutton/Rinaldi/Huffines amendments that would have CLARIFIED and CODIFIED what is already existing law and case law: that law enforcement can’t demand to see ID based solely on the act of open carry absent any criminal conduct. So, let’s dig into the history of this issue and then try to figure out why Texas LEOs seem to be more afraid of open carry, that other states have had no issue with, than actual criminal activity. All codes mentioned below are specific to Texas and no other state.
Government Code 411.205: “If a license holder is carrying a handgun on or about the license holder’s person when a magistrate or a peace officer demands that the license holder display identification, the license holder shall display both the license holder’s driver’s license or identification certificate issued by the department and the license holder’s handgun license.” The law does not differentiate between open or concealed carry. In fact, this law doesn’t do that at all. Nowhere in here does it say that a peace officer can demand to see a CHL (or soon to be License to Carry) either. It says when a peace officer “demands that the license holder display identification.” Once he legally demands identification, only THEN are you required to show your CHL (or LTC). So the question then becomes when can a peace officer demand identification? The Penal Code spells that out for us. Many are quoting this statute as proof that cops can demand to see a license of an individual.
Penal Code 38.02: “A person commits an offense if he intentionally refuses to give his name, residence address, or date of birth to a peace officer who has lawfully arrested the person and requested the information.” In plain English, this says that LEOs may NOT demand to see identification unless the person is under arrest. As peace officers are aware, an arrest requires probable cause. In order to have PC, they must have articulable facts that a crime is, was, or will be committed.
Chairman Phillips made clear during debate in removing the open carry protection amendment that, “The law is very clear. If you’re lawfully stopped, you have to show [your license]. Very clear.” He then clarified very succinctly, “Let me back up. If they have stopped them for a lawful reason.” Open carry is a not a lawful reason anymore. How so? Well, let’s get into some relevant case law in the United States that has ruled on this issue.
In United States v. Deberry, the court even mentioned Texas and was quite clear that the cops must have probable cause to demand ID. This is a concealed carry case, but the same principle applies to open carry (I’ll get into that in another case). The court found, “Even if this were Texas rather than Illinois, and carrying a concealed weapon was lawful except for felons and a few other classes of ineligibles, the police would have been entitled to accost (Note: if you read earlier in the case, they define “accost” as just an consensual or voluntary stop) DeBerry and ask him whether he was carrying a gun. They might have a hunch he was a felon and so violating the law. ? It would not matter, so far as the Fourth Amendment is concerned, as we explained earlier. But if the asking crossed over to commanding, so that DeBerry was stopped, then it would be essential that the officers have a reasonable belief and not a mere hunch that if he was carrying a gun he was violating the law. ?But they would have a reasonable belief, because this is Illinois rather than Texas.” Since carrying a gun is legal in Texas with certain exceptions for non applicability – like having a license – there is no reasonable belief that a crime is being committed and the mere presence of a gun doesn’t cut it as a valid reason for any non-consensual stop.
In United States v Nathaniel Black, the court reiterated Terry v. Ohio in what constitutes the difference between an investigatory stop and a seizure (not free to leave): “To be lawful, a Terry stop ‘must be supported at least by a reasonable and articulable suspicion that the person seized is engaged in criminal activity.'” It goes on, “lawful possession and display of a firearm by another…fails to support the conclusion that Officer Zastrow had reasonable suspicion to detain Black.” Finally, and perhaps the most destructive to this stop and frisk argument is where the court ruled, “Being a felon in possession of a firearm is not the default status. More importantly, where a state permits individuals to openly carry firearms, the exercise of this right, without more, cannot justify an investigatory detention. Permitting such a justification would eviscerate Fourth Amendment protections for lawfully armed individuals in those states.”
Some have pointed to Penal Code 46.02 in defending their argument that because the law makes it unlawful to carry a gun, they have reasonable suspicion because they don’t know if the person has a license and is exempt. Penal Code 46.15 specifically states that 46.02 “does not apply to a person who…is carrying…a license…and a handgun in a concealed manner or in a shoulder or belt holster.” Nonapplicability. Means it doesn’t apply. So, absent articulable facts that the person is carrying illegally, you can’t default to “[a person illegally] in possession of a firearm.” The 4th Amendment is clear about requiring probable cause and law enforcement can’t use the rhetorical and asinine belief that “I don’t know if you’re a good guy or bad guy.” The default is always good guy unless they have articulable facts stating otherwise.
In Brown v. Texas, the court again ruled that, “to detain appellant and require him to identify himself violated the Fourth Amendment because the officers lacked any reasonable suspicion to believe that appellant was engaged or had engaged in criminal conduct.” They may believe that the act of carrying is the reasonable suspicion, but they’d be wrong because, “Absent any basis for suspecting appellant of misconduct, the balance between the public interest in crime prevention and appellant’s right to personal security and privacy tilts in favor of freedom from police interference.”
In Basin Flying Service v. Public Service Commission the court supported this principle, holding, “[w]hen a person is confronted with inconsistent statutes, by one of which he would be subject to duties or restraints, and by the other he would be exempt therefrom, he is entitled to the benefit of the statute most favorable to his freedom of action.” In other words, if cops feel that the law is confusing because there seems to be conflicting statutes in dealing with open carriers, the open carriers are “entitled to the benefit of the statue most favorable to [their] freedom of action.” Simply put, leave them alone or engage in a friendly conversation about gun rights and the weather. You don’t want to be the guy with the badge that gets dragged through lengthy and highly stressful criminal and civil trials under Penal Code 39.03 (Official Oppression), 18 U.S. Code § 242 (Deprivation of rights under color of law), or 42 U.S. Code § 1983 (Civil action for deprivation of rights).
There are other cases that frankly I’m too tired to flush out here, like Delaware v Prouse. My goal was to counter the argument and suggestion that some in law enforcement have posited that they can and will stop people for doing nothing more than openly carrying a holstered handgun.
That said, I still don’t understand why they even WOULD bother people not doing anything wrong. Some say, “just show your ID and you’ll be on your way.” Why? Why would anyone exercise their 2nd amendment rights just to throw away their 4th? Are not all of our rights equally important? Let’s address an aspect many aren’t even thinking about. Most males carry their licenses in their back pocket. Often, they use the same pocket as their firing hand and the location of their handgun. What do you think some officers are going to do when a citizen goes for a wallet to obtain his ID and a cop thinks he’s going for his gun?! Do we WANT more people to get shot because some in law enforcement feel the need to inconvenience and harass someone for exercising their rights? Some ask, “how is that harassment if we’re just asking a question? It’s harassment because they are impeding my normal course of life or business. You are stopping me from my freedom of movement for engaging in a legal activity.
Let me flip the question: what is so difficult about seeing a person who is just going about his business, not bothering or threatening anyone, and just leaving him alone? I believe that cops are more intelligent than a moth that sees a light bulb and can’t help but fly into it. They have enough real crime to deal with. Why even bother people carrying a HOLSTERED handgun? THAT is the real question.
It’s time that law enforcement stop trying to stop people from carrying in public and start recognizing that the more that do are actually a benefit to law enforcement. “An armed society is a polite society” means that when the people are armed, the criminals are more likely to behave for fear of being shot and/or killed. We make the job of law enforcement easier, not harder, if they simply recognize that simple fact. I’m not talking about vigilantism, but about serving as that first line of defense to criminal activity. Police can’t be everywhere and when seconds count they are only minutes away. We aren’t your enemy. We don’t want to be your enemy.
Those reading this post should understand that this is only my educated interpretation of the law and relevant court cases. This is not to construe legal advice. In fact, when confronted with a law enforcement officer that wants to assert his perceived dominance over you, it is your decision alone how to respond. You basically have two options: stand up for your rights and risk going to jail; or make the officer feel good about himself by presenting your CHL. In any case, always be as respectful as the respect paid to you or more so. And always, ALWAYS make sure you have a camera to record the encounter. Often, this can mean the difference between your guilt and innocence. I recommend a service like Self Defense Fund as insurance in case you ever need to your firearm in lawful self-defense. Use referral code “opencarry” so I know you joined from here (I get no financial benefit from you joining).
Posted on December 18, 2015
It’s not often that I review books that aren’t military or history related (If you love history, wait until I review the next book!), but this one peaked my interest. As many of my longtime readers know, I struggle with PTSD. While I’ve largely found a way to manage the symptoms through a lot of hard work, counseling, and encouragement, there is always room for improvement and there are always little triggers to depression and survivor’s guilt.
Let me get to the meat of the review right off the bat: Bouncing Forward needs to be turned into a lesson plan and made a part of mandatory pre-deployment training for every deploying service member. It might seem like a waste of time at first, but believe me when I say the exercises, lessons, and recommendations that author Dr. Michaela Haas suggests can change your life, build resistance, and ensure growth instead of a downward spiral of fear and depression.
The underlying premise of the book is that a traumatic event doesn’t have to be a life destroyer. She helps the reader take control of these events and turn them into growth as opposed to stress. Oftentimes, Soldiers will internalize their struggles and fall victim to an event that they feel has taken over their lives. She counsels that “any amount of agency we can reclaim that empowers us to restore order in chaos will help, no matter how small.”
Watching a friend die is not an easy thing to fathom or forget. The feeling that you could have done more or that you should of died in his place can ruin your relationships and your life. It seems no one can help because others try to assure you by telling you “everything will be fine” and others say “I know what you’re going through.” It may seem like life couldn’t possible get any worse.
Instead of just making the reader feel better about themselves, she tells the stories of some remarkable people who endured some incredible “misfortunes” (though they won’t tell you that) and found ways to obtain “post traumatic growth.” By the time I finished reading the book, it was like I could have had a V8 moment. It seems so simple, though that doesn’t make it easy. Drawing from a wide array of experts in the field – from noted doctors to Buddhist adherents – Dr. Haas lays out a very easy to understand and implement process: Survive, Grow, Dig Deep, Play, Accept, Thrive, Pray, Evolve, Breathe, Adrenalize, Shine, Forgive, and Love.
It’s not just advice and clinical or biological technicalities that she talks about and she works hard to convey the message that traumatic growth is possible without medicating yourself into oblivion. While I’ve been a Def Leppard fan since the “High & Dry” the story about drummer Rick Allen was especially inspiring. When a man who uses both arms to make a living playing playing drums loses one in a horrible accident and still finds a way to keep doing what he was doing, you can’t help but think to yourself: “what am I afraid of?”
I’m not a big fan of self help books because they are usually dry and try to sell me a one-size-fits-all solution. Just like our toolbox in the garage have different uses for different projects, Haas provides many different tools that can be tailored to an individual’s trauma pain. I left the book a few more tools in my tool belt that I plan to use and apply in my life. Bouncing Forward is a great book about seeing the beauty of life and recognizing that all looking back does and keep from moving forward. If you have a friend or family member suffering from PTSD – whether it be from combat or a car crash or just a disease – read this book. Give them a copy of this book. And to any Generals or Admirals or military leaders are reading this: get some copies for your unit and help your troops BEFORE they experience a traumatic event that they may have to deal with unprepared.
Posted on December 7, 2015
The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, unaccounted for since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Marine Cpl. James D. Otto, 20, of Los Angeles, will be buried Dec. 8, in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1943, Otto was assigned to Company L, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Marines were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded. Otto was reported killed in action on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943.
In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died in the battle were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries on the island. In 1946 and 1947, the 604th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company conducted remains recovery operations on Betio Island, but Otto’s remains were not recovered. On Feb. 10, 1949, a military review board declared Otto non-recoverable.
In June 2015, a nongovernmental organization, History Flight, Inc., notified DPAA that they discovered a burial site on Betio Island and recovered the remains of what they believed were U.S. Marines who fought during the battle in November 1943. The remains were turned over to DPAA in July 2015.
To identify Otto’s remains, scientists from DPAA used laboratory analysis, to include dental comparisons, which Matched Otto’s records, as well as circumstantial and material evidence.
Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war.
Updated on November 24, 2015
As a counterintelligence agent, I was cross trained in interrogation and strategic and tactical debriefing. In Iraq, I did a lot of this with the help of interpreters since I was a Spanish linguist (go figure). While in Iraq, I conducted hundreds of battlefield interrogations before, during and after battles. Some prisoners of war were easy to talk to and some needed enhanced encouragement to speak. However, we never resorted to “torture.”
I can’t be specific about the means and methods of Army interrogation, but I can talk in a little more detail about one interrogation early in the Iraq War in 2003. I wrote briefly about this in a journal entry I shared over ten years ago on this blog. 99% of successful interrogations are nothing more than asking questions and getting answers. Very few require more aggressive methods and those are only used as a last resort. This chemical officer we were interrogating wasn’t saying anything. He kept trying to say he was a nobody even though all his documents proved otherwise. It wasn’t until I asked a simple question that he started to cry. That was the break I needed.
Frustrated, I began going through his “pocket litter” (the contents of information on the prisoners person, such as in pockets, briefcases, etc) and found a picture of his family. I showed him the picture and asked him a few simple questions mainly to try and humanize myself and gain rapport.
“Is this your family?”
“Naam (yes),” he answered.
“Would you like to see your family again?” I followed up.
It was a seemingly innocent question, but one that caused his eyes to well up in tears. His demeanor completely changed as his shoulders sagged, his chest deflated, and his head dropped down. This was it. This was his breaking point. I could use his love of family against him. I didn’t mean to insinuate that if he didn’t cooperate with us that he would never see his family again. I honestly just wanted to know if he wanted to see his family again. If he helped us more, we could end the war sooner so he could get back to his family. Little did I know at the time that he valued family over his allegiance to Saddam. We got all the information we needed at the time and passed him and our intel reports up to Division so the Commanding General understood the risks.
There are times where I truly feel bad for making this man think that we were either going to kill him or his family if he didn’t cooperate with us. Maybe it was the translation that made it sound that way or something, but to see a grown man in a position of authority cry during combat like that caused me a lot of reflection after I got home and started to process my combat experiences. At the time, it was no big deal. His tears were a tool I used to get what I wanted. I took advantage of his emotional state.
One day in Fallujah, a man was brought to us that was captured during a patrol. A group of Iraqis had ambushed them with RPGs and machine gun fire, injuring a couple of our troops. It was a brief, though heated battle and adrenaline ran high, as it always does during an ambush. By the end of the battle, all but one of the insurgents was dead, but the troops beat the living tar out of the survivor according to their own words. By the time he got to our interrogation hut, the man was bloodied, bruised, and his eyes were swollen shut. He had swelling all over his head, neck and arms and probably more in places I couldn’t see. He had been bandaged up and blessed by medical personnel to begin interrogation. The man actually asked us for toothpicks to hold his eye lids open so he could see who he was talking to (we didn’t need a blindfold). The man could barely speak because of the swelling. They almost killed this man with their bare fists, not because he was fighting them back, but because they were angry.
I bring these two stories up – which are two examples on opposite ends of the spectrum – because Donald Trump said something yesterday that greatly concerns me.
“I think waterboarding is peanuts compared to what they do to us,” the Republican presidential candidate said. “What they’re doing to us, what they did to James Foley when they chopped off his head, that’s a whole different level and I would absolutely bring back interrogation and strong interrogation.”
Not only did this concern me, but many of my friends have been praising him for saying it. The vast majority of those saying it have never served in the military so I get that they don’t fully understand the folly of Trump’s words.
Combat is the most inhuman and disgusting activity human beings can engage in. Yes, it’s necessary from time to time, but that doesn’t lesson the severity or impact of it on those that engage in it. Anyone that has been in actual combat and has had to engage the enemy leaves a part of themselves on the battlefield. Sometimes, it’s a physical part of themselves and sometimes it’s an emotional or psychological part of themselves. The act of killing another human being is one of the hardest things to not only do, but to live with afterwards. The images of the people I had to kill – as well as the images of the dead Soldiers I had to search – are forever etched in my head. I can see them when I sleep. I can see them when I’m staring into the night sky. Sometimes I see them while driving. While those men were the enemy and they wanted to kill me, they were husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. While in combat, we don’t think of them that way. They are nothing more than animated flesh – robots – when we are engaging them on the battlefield. They are animals, inhuman. They have no souls. We necessarily dehumanize them so we can kill them.
With that said, it is the height of hubris and ignorance to suggest that our troops should be ordered to torture another human being, especially by people who have no idea what that means. It’s an easy thing to say, “YEAH, TORTURE THOSE RAGHEADS! THEY BEHEAD INNOCENT MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN! THEY HAVE IT COMING THE BARBARIANS!” But, what people fail to realize is that someone has to strap that person down, wrap their faces in a scarf or cloth, and pour water over their faces to simulate drowning and induce panic. Those Soldiers may find it somewhat easy to deal with in the heat of battle, but one day they are going to reflect on their actions and it’s going to eat them alive. Not only do they dehumanize the subject, they are slowly dehumanizing themselves. No matter how disgusting, inhuman, animal-like, or egregious the enemy is, we don’t need to lower ourselves to their level. Because, unlike them, Americans are good people with conscience and anyone with a conscience knows that torture is evil. It is everything we are fighting against.
Set aside the fact that waterboarding is only minimally successful at best, there are so many others options that work much better even on hardened jihadists. What typically ends up happening with torture is that prisoners tend to just say SOMETHING to make the torture stop. Sometimes there is a partial truth in there so they aren’t subjected to the torture again and sometimes the entire confession is false. Regardless of the relevancy of the intelligence, the toll torture takes on the torturer in life is much more costly.
When I hear people say that if someone broke into their home or tried to rob them on the streets they would put “two to the chest, one to the head” I can’t help but shiver at how cavalier they make killing someone sound, even when justified. As a gun owner and a combat veteran, I hope I never have to shoot another human being ever again. I hope I never have to pull my gun on another human being. I’m willing and able to if I have to defend myself, but I don’t seek it out.
Killing and torture for any reason is not something anyone should dismiss as no big deal. It is a big deal. It weighs on your soul (I wrote about that too, as well as how to keep your soul). Both cause you to lose a little bit of your humanity. This is why I am against torture and condemn Mr. Trump’s casual demeanor about bringing back waterboarding, or what he calls “strong interrogation.” Our politicians need to think long and hard about the ramifications their flippant attitudes towards using troops to achieve political and military objectives will have. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying I’m against killing ISIS or anyone that is a danger or threat to America and our way of life. I’m not some peace loving hippy that thinks we should be putting flowers in the jihadists suicide vests. If they need to be killed, let’s kill them. I’m simply saying we need to think our decisions through and understand the true cost of implementing them before someone has to spend the rest of their lives for being the blunt end of the stick.
Posted on November 12, 2015
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, and welcome to the White House. A little more than three years ago, as Captain Florent Groberg was recovering from his wounds as a consequence of the actions that we honor today, he woke up on a hospital bed, in a little bit of a haze. He wasn’t sure, but he thought he was in Germany, and someone was at his bedside talking to him. He thought it was the lead singer from the heavy metal band Korn. (Laughter.) Flo thought, “What’s going on? Am I hallucinating?” But he wasn’t. It was all real.
And so today, Flo, I want to assure you, you are not hallucinating. You are actually in the White House. Those cameras are on. I am not the lead singer from Korn. (Laughter.) We are here to award you our nation’s highest military honor — distinction, the Medal of Honor.
Now, Flo and I have actually met before. Three years ago, I was on one of my regular visits to Walter Reed to spend some time with our wounded warriors — and Flo was one of them. We talked. It turns out he liked the Chicago Bears — so I liked him right away. (Laughter.) And I had a chance to meet his parents who could not be more gracious and charming, and you get a sense of where Flo gets his character from. It is wonderful to see both of you again.
I also want to welcome Flo’s girlfriend Carsen, who apparently, Flo tells me, he had to help paint an apartment with just the other day. So there’s some honeydew lists going on. (Laughter.) His many friends, fellow soldiers and family, all of our distinguished guests. A day after Veterans Day, we honor this American veteran, whose story — like so many of our vets and wounded warriors — speaks not only of gallantry on the battlefield, but resilience here at home.
As a teenager just up the road in Bethesda, Flo discovered he had an incredible gift — he could run. Fast. Half-mile, mile, two mile — he’d leave his competition in the dust. He was among the best in the state. And he went on to run track and cross country at the University of Maryland.
Flo’s college coach called him “the consummate teammate.” As good as he was in individual events, somehow he always found a little extra something when he was running on a relay, with a team. Distance running is really all about guts — and as one teammate said, Flo could “suffer a little more than everyone else could.” So day after day, month after month, he pushed himself to his limit. He knew that every long run, every sprint, every interval could help shave off a second or two off his times. And as he’d find out later, a few seconds can make all the difference.
Training. Guts. Teamwork. What made Flo a great runner also made him a great soldier. In the Army, Flo again took his training seriously — hitting the books in the classroom, paying attention to every detail in field exercises — because he knew that he had to be prepared for any scenario. He deployed to Afghanistan twice; first as a platoon leader, and then a couple of years later when he was hand-picked to head up a security detail. And so it was on an August day three years ago that Flo found himself leading a group of American and Afghan soldiers as they escorted their commanders to a meeting with local Afghans. It was a journey that the team had done many times before — a short walk on foot, including passage over a narrow bridge.
At first, they passed pedestrians, a few cars and bicycles, even some children. But then they began to approach the bridge, and a pair of motorcycles sped toward them from the other side. The Afghan troops shouted at the bikers to stop — and they did, ditching their bikes in the middle of the bridge and running away.
And that’s when Flo noticed something to his left — a man, dressed in dark clothing, walking backwards, just some 10 feet away. The man spun around and turned toward them, and that’s when Flo sprinted toward him. He pushed him away from the formation, and as he did, he noticed an object under the man’s clothing — a bomb. The motorcycles had been a diversion.
And at that moment, Flo did something extraordinary — he grabbed the bomber by his vest and kept pushing him away. And all those years of training on the track, in the classroom, out in the field — all of it came together. In those few seconds, he had the instincts and the courage to do what was needed. One of Flo’s comrades, Sergeant Andrew Mahoney, had joined in, too, and together they shoved the bomber again and again. And they pushed him so hard he fell to the ground onto his chest. And then the bomb detonated.
Ball bearings, debris, dust exploded everywhere. Flo was thrown some 15 or 20 feet and was knocked unconscious. And moments later, he woke up in the middle of the road in shock. His eardrum was blown out. His leg was broken and bleeding badly. Still, he realized that if the enemy launched a secondary attack, he’d be a sitting duck. When a comrade found him in the smoke, Flo had his pistol out, dragging his wounded body from the road.
That blast by the bridge claimed four American heroes — four heroes Flo wants us to remember today. One of his mentors, a 24-year Army vet who always found time for Flo and any other soldier who wanted to talk — Command Sergeant Major Kevin Griffin. A West Pointer who loved hockey and became a role model to cadets and troops because he always “cared more about other people than himself” — Major Tom Kennedy. A popular Air Force leader known for smiling with his “whole face,” someone who always seemed to run into a friend wherever he went — Major David Gray. And finally, a USAID foreign service officer who had just volunteered for a second tour in Afghanistan; a man who moved to the United States from Egypt and reveled in everything American, whether it was Disneyland or chain restaurants or roadside pie — Ragaei Abdelfatah *Abdelfattah.
These four men believed in America. They dedicated their lives to our country. They died serving it. Their families — loving wives and children, parents and siblings — bear that sacrifice most of all. So while Ragaei’s family could not be with us today, I’d ask three Gold Star families to please stand and accept our deepest thanks. (Applause.)
Today, we honor Flo because his actions prevented an even greater catastrophe. You see, by pushing the bomber away from the formation, the explosion occurred farther from our forces, and on the ground instead of in the open air. And while Flo didn’t know it at the time, that explosion also caused a second, unseen bomb to detonate before it was in place. Had both bombs gone off as planned, who knows how many could have been killed.
Those are the lives Flo helped to save. And we are honored that many of them are here today. Brigadier General James Mingus. Sergeant Andrew Mahoney, who was awarded a Silver Star for joining Flo in confronting the attacker. Sergeant First Class Brian Brink, who was awarded a Bronze Star with Valor for pulling Flo from the road. Specialist Daniel Balderrama, the medic who helped to save Flo’s leg. Private First Class Benjamin Secor and Sergeant Eric Ochart, who also served with distinction on that day. Gentlemen, I’d ask you to please stand and accept the thanks of a grateful nation, as well. (Applause.)
At Walter Reed, Flo began his next mission — the mission to recover. He suffered significant nerve damage, and almost half of the calf muscle in his left leg had been blown off. So the leg that had powered him around that track, the leg that moved so swiftly to counter the bomber — that leg had been through hell and back. Thanks to 33 surgeries and some of the finest medical treatment a person can ask for, Flo kept that leg. He’s not running, but he’s doing a lot of CrossFit. I would not challenge him to CrossFit. (Laughter.) He’s putting some hurt on some rowing machines and some stair climbers. I think it is fair to say he is fit.
Today, Flo is medically retired. But like so many of his fellow veterans of our 9/11 Generation, Flo continues to serve. As I said yesterday at Arlington, that’s what our veterans do — they are incredibly highly skilled, dynamic leaders always looking to write that next chapter of service to America. For Flo, that means a civilian job with the Department of Defense to help take care of our troops and keep our military strong.
And every day that he is serving, he will be wearing a bracelet on his wrist — as he is today — a bracelet that bears the names of his brothers in arms who gave their lives that day. The truth is, Flo says that day was the worst day of his life. And that is the stark reality behind these Medal of Honor ceremonies — that for all the valor we celebrate, and all the courage that inspires us, these actions were demanded amid some of the most dreadful moments of war.
That’s precisely why we honor heroes like Flo — because on his very worst day, he managed to summon his very best. That’s the nature of courage — not being unafraid, but confronting fear and danger and performing in a selfless fashion. He showed his guts, he showed his training; how he would put it all on the line for his teammates. That’s an American we can all be grateful for. It’s why we honor Captain Florent Groberg today.
May God bless all who serve and all who have given their lives to our country. We are free because of them. May God bless their families and may God continue to bless the United States of America with heroes such as these.
MILITARY AIDE: The President of the United States of America, authorized by act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Captain Florent A. Groberg, United States Army.
Captain Florent A. Groberg distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a personal security detachment commander for Task Force Mountain Warrior, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Asadabad, Kunar Province, Afghanistan, on August 8, 2012.
On that day, Captain Groberg was leading a dismounted movement consisting of several senior leaders to include two brigade commanders, two battalion commanders, two command sergeants major, and an Afghanistan National Army brigade commander.
As they approached the provincial governor’s compound, Captain Groberg observed an individual walking close to the formation. While the individual made an abrupt turn towards the formation, he noticed an abnormal bulge underneath the individual’s clothing. Selflessly placing himself in front of one of the brigade commanders, Captain Groberg rushed forward using his body to push the suspect away from the formation. Simultaneously, he ordered another member of the security detail to assist with removing the suspect. At this time, Captain Groberg confirmed the bulge was a suicide vest. And with complete disregard for this life, Captain Groberg, again, with the assistance of the other member of the security detail, physically pushed the suicide bomber away from the formation.
Upon falling, the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest outside of the perimeter of the formation, killing four members of the formation and wounding numerous others. The blast from the first suicide bomb caused the suicide vest of a previously unnoticed second suicide bomber to detonate prematurely with minimal impact on the formation.
Captain Groberg’s immediate actions to push the first suicide bomber away from the formation significantly minimized the impact of the coordinated suicide bombers’ attack on the formation, saving the lives of his comrades and several senior leaders.
Captain Groberg’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty at the risk of his life on keeping with the highest traditions of the military service, and reflect great credit upon himself, Fourth Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Fourth Infantry Division, and the United States Army. (Applause.)
[The benediction is offered.]
THE PRESIDENT: That concludes the formal portion of this ceremony. I need to take some pictures with the outstanding team members, as well as the Gold Start families who are here today, as Flo reminds us this medal, in his words, honors them as much as any honors that are bestowed upon him. And on Veterans Day Week, that is particularly appropriate.
I want to thank all of our servicemembers who are here today, all who could not attend. And I hope you enjoy an outstanding reception. I hear the food is pretty good here. (Laughter.)
Thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.) Give Captain Groberg a big round of applause again. (Applause.) Thank you.
Updated on April 4, 2016
Composing a broad article might be difficult for a lot of US. The entire article writing approach is created even more difficult when the subject of the composition is individual and about oneself! This sort of dissertation troubles one to get the fine-line between publishing an article that enables your figure without appearing like a pompous windbag who;s in need of a serving of humble pie, to shine. We learn this can not be soft, thus & we;re likely to allow you to decide where that brand is today. Read More
Posted on November 8, 2015
Michael Yon desperately needs to protect his reputation. People with intelligence have already seen through his Façade and abandoned him long ago (like the military has). So, it comes as no surprise that on his constant stream of posts about me on his Facebook page, he is quick to delete any comments by either people who know me or people who have researched his claims and call him out.
As a public figure, I try to keep tabs on what is said about me online. I have a Google alert that notifies me anytime my name is mentioned. That way, if there is defamatory, false, or libelous things written I can contact the author. A few days ago, I got the first news alert that was written about the dismissal of my lawsuit against Temple Police Department bully and liar, Steve Ermis, by a corrupt and frequently overturned federal judge Walter Smith Jr. This is the judge that oversaw the Branch Davidian trials in the 90s.
I immediately forwarded it to my wife and told her that within the day Yon would be posting the link on his page. Like Pavlov’s dog, the disgraced and discredited Yon posted the link as predicted. My favorite stalker also has a Google Alert on me so that he can follow my every move.
As is standard fair, Yon’s drones began reciting his carefully crafted narrative. Yon is a major donor to the philosophy that if you tell a lie enough times, people will believe it. In fact, he himself stated, “If a writer wants to make money, he should avoid truth and tell people what they want to hear. Yet to win the war, tell the truth.” No one epitomizes this ideology more than Yon. Over the years, he seems to have added to his mantra of not only avoiding the truth, but making up truths out of thin air and carefully ensuring that he can’t be discovered for the fraud he is.
A few of my friends said that they had left some comments on this posting of his, some of whom had served with me in Afghanistan and over the years. They sent me screenshots because they knew their comments would be deleted lest Yon lose more credibility. Here are some of the comments they made.
Amazingly, all but that last comment has disappeared and amazingly my wife’s comment is still up after more than 36 hours!!
Michael Yon is invested in keeping his followers in the dark. He deletes the comments that are damaging to his narrative and keeps the ones he thinks he can use to continue the libel and defamation against me. I know he’s read this blog and everything I’ve written, which is why he stays in Thailand. In spite of having the truth he continues to “avoid truth and tell people what they want to hear.” The few English speaking people that still follow him want to hear what Yon forcefeeds them and makes sure they aren’t educated on reality. Well, I’m always willing to insert reality into his little land of make believe. Mr. Rogers would be envious.
You can see for yourself whether these comments still exist by looking at his posting yourself. You can read about all of his lies – with accompanying evidence to the contrary – by clicking here. Sit back and get comfortable. You’re about to get a wealth of information
Updated on November 1, 2015
At the end of 2013, I qualified for an intensive, inpatient PTSD program called Warrior Combat Stress RESET Program. Applicants had to undergo extensive testing, interviews, and assessments before being admitted. Reset is an eleven–week intensive outpatient treatment program for the treatment of moderate to severe combat–related Post Traumatic Stress symptoms. Only 10-12 troops are admitted each cycle based on stringent criteria. In other words, the worst of the worst cases. Nearly every Soldier that gets admitted has had at least one suicide attempt or suicidal thought. It also enjoyed a 100% success rate. So, what did the Army do? What it does with every successful program – it cut it.
This program literally saved the lives of Soldiers at the end of their rope. Those that participate have built strong bonds of brotherly love by the time it’s over. The program includes individual and group therapy as well as incorporating “complimentary alternative medicine” (CAM) like yoga, acupuncture, deep tissue massage, reflexology, and reiki to name a few.
While in the program I learned how terrible the Fort Hood Warrior Transition Unit was. In fact, Fort Hood as a whole has been struggling with dealing with troops dealing with their combat experiences and the loss of their brothers in arms. A recent report revealed that the military was more interested in simply discarding troops dealing with PTSD and brain injury than actually help them.
And according to figures acquired by NPR and CPR under the Freedom of Information Act, the Army has been pushing out soldiers diagnosed with mental health problems not just at Fort Carson but at bases across the country.
The figures show that since January 2009, the Army has “separated” 22,000 soldiers for “misconduct” after they came back from Iraq and Afghanistan and were diagnosed with mental health problems or traumatic brain injuries. As a result, many of the dismissed soldiers have not received crucial retirement and health care benefits that soldiers receive with an honorable discharge.
Even though Ft. Hood is the third largest base, it is at the top of the list of most troops discharged. The post is extremely hostile towards Soldiers strong enough to seek treatment. It doesn’t matter one’s rank. They treat officers as bad and the enlisted troops – probably even worse.
Oh, how the Army has fallen since the days of Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Peter Chiarelli took on the task of removing the stigma. Unfortunately, the stigma has never been greater than it is today.
Updated on October 25, 2015
It boggles my mind, really. I’m open to anyone that has an answer for why Michael Yon, a disgraced former military blogger living in Thailand currently relegated to inane commentary on news stories, cats, food, and bugs, continues to stalk me while claiming that I stalk him. Where have I said a word about him except in response to incessant stream of attacks and defamation? Frankly, I don’t even think about MIchael Yon until I get another alert that my name is coming up out of the blue. Just thinking about him conjures up images of him in his OD green onesie in Afghanistan that makes him look like a quasi-camouflaged Staypuff Marshmallow Man. If it were anyone else even moderately competent at life, I would feel the need to be worried, but it’s Michael Yon.
When Esquire Magazine did a profile on me in this month’s issue (November), Yon took that as an opportunity to try and recruit new converts to his religion of lies. The only problem in trying to spread his lies on other sites is that he can’t control the content. After leaving approximately 40 comments on the Esquire link, I went behind him and shared links to this blog with the truth. But, trolling Esquire wasn’t good enough since he couldn’t craft his manipulation and lies, so he returned to his clueless lemmings that follow his page (most of whom aren’t even Americans).
Once again he is sharing a conveniently cropped photo without context and tying to some story about Sweden. I’ve already addressed the photo several times, so click the link for that information. What I have to do with Sweden is still a grand mystery to me. But, it’s not really so much about how his warped mind sees “Sweden” and thinks “CJ Grisham.” On top of his usual lies which are well documented on this blog, he’s adding new ones. When people point them out to me, I like to take it as another opportunity to prove that Michael Yon is the antithesis of integrity, principles, honesty, or honor.
In his latest attack, Yon makes several new claims: I’m not a Texan and I was forced to retire early due to mental illness.
I was born on March 2, 1974 (Texas Independence Day), at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas. It’s a beautiful hospital that sits on one of the highest hills in the city. You can see it all the way Salado in spots, especially at night. The hospital is now three times larger that it was 41 years ago. To ensure I wasn’t living in a Michael Yon-like alternate dimension, I called my mom to ask about my birth.
Me: Hey, mom, I need you to level with me. I can take the truth. Am I really a Texan?
Mom: Well, if you consider being born in Texas means you’re a Texan, then yes.
Me: So, when you say I was born in Texas, do you mean to say you gave birth to me in Texas?
Mom: Yes, and I was in the hospital for several weeks recovering from that birth, so I remember it quite vividly.
Me: You weren’t an illegal immigrant were you? I’m not an anchor baby, right?
Mom: You were as heavy as an anchor, but I am a certified American as is your dad.
Me: And to clarify, Texas was a state in the Union in 1974, right?
Mom: I thought you didn’t drink alcohol or do drugs!?
Me: No, mom, but I think a guy in Thailand is a regular user.
And there you have it. My mom even confirmed I’m a Texan. My birth certificate is filed with Bell County Public Records so anyone can confirm. My father was in the Navy, so I grew up all around the country and around the world. Every year, I would come home and spend my summers working on the family farm here in Temple. I graduated high school in Japan, in fact. After high school, I moved back to Texas and worked as a DJ and part time at Blockbuster Music. I joined the Army in 1995 from Texas and maintained my home of record in Texas throughout my service. So, not only am I am Texan by birth (as if anyone with even a gnat’s brain believes Yon’s tripe), but I was raised in Texas to the greatest extent that military service allowed me to. The Army didn’t accidentally bring me to Texas. I CHOSE Fort Hood as my final duty station so I could retire at home and not have to worry about moving from outside the state back home.
Which leads me to Yon’s next new claim: that I was forced into early retirement.
First, I want to address a common refrain that Yon loves to use. He makes great use of the philosophy that “if you say something enough times, it’ll come true.” It’s interesting that he constantly refers to my PTSD – and by extension, that of every service member – as “mental illness.” He mentions in a negative connotation all the time. In Michael Yon’s world, if troops get PTSD, they are weak, must be disarmed, are a danger to society, and must be stigmatized at all costs, especially if he doesn’t like you. What Michael Yon does when he attacks PTSD in this fashion and uses it against me or anyone is further the reluctance of troops to get help. He stigmatizes troops who seek help at the combat stress clinics. He stigmatizes the tens of thousands of troops who had jobs that didn’t allow them to leave the FOB (Forward Operating Base). He talks down to troops if they never saw combat, in spite of the fact that a very small percentage of troops in the military ever saw combat themselves (I’ve seen my share of direct combat engagements). This is coming from a “man” whose only combat experience involves illegally and blindly shooting a propane tank while hiding behind a wall and almost getting the troops he was embedded with killed or hurt. Thank goodness Yon was there to save them from those insurgent propane gases.
I formally retired from the Army on February 1, 2015. This was exactly 20 years and 14 days after I joined the military. In order to normally retire from the Army, Soldiers must have at least 20 years of military service. The majority of Soldiers that reach this point retire. Not many prefer to go beyond their minimum 20 years. I was one of them. One of the overwhelming majority of troops that retire at 20. And it had nothing to do with “mental illness” as Yon claims, again without any proof whatsoever. In fact, the reason I wouldn’t have been able to stay longer in the military had nothing to do with mental illness and everything to do with my activism in Texas. The Army wants it’s troops to be quiet and not stir things up, even if they are right. If Yon were correct, I’d have been MEDICALLY retired and, frankly, I would have gotten more retirement pay that way.
To Yon, he thinks he simply needs to say something as if it’s fact and the lemmings that he cultivates through his carefully edited and censored Facebook page will eat it up. Posting links to this page that have dismantled literally every lie he’s told about me have resulted in deletion and banning from further discussion. Like the Nazis and Orwellian fantasyland, Yon can’t have opposition on his page. That threatens his internet scams. It’s a great scam he has going, but it’s a perpetual failure.
Michael Yon sees my success in relation to his own failure and it eats him alive. I live rent free in his head every waking moment of his life. That’s the only rational explanation for why he keeps talking me when I have long since turned my back on him. He’s no longer a danger to our troops, so I don’t care what he says. But, I will correct him on his lies about me. He has a history of contacting people in my command or that may know me so I have no doubt he is actively trying to feed my campaign opponents with his tripe.
I think my opponents are smarter than Yon. They, like most intelligent people, recognize that many major media sources have interviewed me over the years about my military service: Army Times, Military Times, USA Today, Garry Trudeau, GQ, Esquire, many authors of books, and countless local, state and national news media. Yet, Yon thinks that none of these media entities ever verified any information they wrote about. Apparently, Yon is the only guy that is right and all these media outlets are wrong. There’s a reason that the media hasn’t substantiated Yon’s claims about me: they are products on his imagination.