No Special Treatment for Veterans on Gun Rights

I’m going to take a lot of heat for this, I predict. But, I say it as someone who actually benefits from these kinds of policies. I think the difference is that I don’t like it for practical and principled reasons. I read a story today out of Florida that concerned me a bit.

Florida has fast-tracked concealed weapons licenses to 82,000 active-duty military members and honorably discharged veterans since a terror-related shooting at a pair of military installations in Tennessee two years ago.

Military.com | 9 Jan 2015 | by Matthew Cox

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who along with Governor Rick Scott helped expedite the permitting process as part of the state’s reaction to the Chattanooga shootings, on Tuesday highlighted the effort that has helped bolster Florida’s nation leading number of concealed-firearm permits.

Before I get to the point on this post let me first qualify what I’m going to say. I don’t believe that permits are constitutional in the first place. Permits to carry are nothing more than government stripping you of your rights and then selling them back to you. No one should have to get a permit to exercise a fundamental human right to self-defense. That said, I’m writing this posts based on the reality that currently exists understanding I find the entire system of licensing repulsive.

When I joined the Army, I didn’t join to defend or protect my own rights. I joined to “support and the defend the constitution of the United States” for everyone. I didn’t join to receive special privileges or extra rights. While I do and will continue to appreciate the support that troops have, it concerns me that too many people think that government personnel (troops and police officers) are somehow entitled to special treatment based on a personal decision to don a uniform.

Last I checked, those of us who serve in the military are still considered “service members.” We are in the “service” of our nation not to be serviced by the nation. If we are serving the American people, what gives anyone the authority to bestow more rights upon us that the people we actually serve? The first three words of the Constitution are “we the people,” “we the government employees.” The people created the government to, among other things, “secure the Blessings of Liberty.” Do we as veterans believe that those blessings only apply to us? If you don’t think they do, why would you support laws that bestow greater rights to you than the people you serve?

The only thing I truly agree with is exempting those in the profession of arms from having to take a qualification course as a part of their licensing. As far as I know, every single service requires regular firearm qualifications and receives regular training on marksmanship and safe gun handling. We can argue all day long about where all troops are actually “trained” on those things, but then I would argue that there isn’t a single state in the Union whose training requirements are any better.

When I was active duty, my Texas license to carry was free. As a veteran, it costs me $40 (beginning September 1, 2017, it will cost $40 for all Texans). The story claims that the effort to expedite permits is “part of the state’s reaction to the Chattanooga shootings,” but fails to recognize that even if troops have permits, federal law, executive, and general orders prohibit service members from carrying onto a military installation in most cases anyway. In fact, I was almost arrested recently going into Fort Hood while carrying a concealed firearm.

In November of last year, the Department of Defense released DOD DIRECTIVE 5210.56 which allows post commanders to “grant permission to DoD personnel requesting to carry a privately owned firearm (concealed or open carry) on DoD property for a personal protection purpose.” When I got to the gate, I declared that I had a concealed firearm and told the guard, “before you let me enter, can you tell me if I’m allowed to have a concealed handgun on me if I have a license and don’t enter into buildings under the directive issued last year? Has Fort Hood created a policy?” He said yes that I just needed to have my papers, so I handed him my license and he directed to a secondary screening area. When an MP arrived, he asked for my “papers,” to which I told him I gave them to the guard. The guard gave him my license, but he wanted registration papers. I was confused by this and it was explained that all firearms must be registered with the post to be allowed in. Once registered, the gun had to remain in the home except when traveling between a residence and the range or going off post. He then said he was supposed to arrest me for having a gun that wasn’t registered and I told him that I didn’t want to come on post if it was illegal which is why I declared it to the guard first and told him to turn me around. I guess the guard didn’t know the law and thankfully the MP was understanding and let me leave.

While 5210.56 sounds like a great policy, the problem is that once permission is obtained (which Fort Hood doesn’t grant at all) it is only good for 90 days and has to be renewed. The fact is that commanders simply don’t care about the policy and continue to disarm their troops. I’ve spoken to many military leaders that like it that way because they don’t trust their troops with a firearm. My response to that is twofold: 1) what kind of leader are you that you don’t trust your troops with a firearm? and 2) it sounds like you have a training deficiency in gun safety and handling. But, I digress…

Soldiers and cops are frequently told, “thank you for your service.” Is it really service if we are being offered more freedom and liberty than civilians are and think that is a good thing? Are we truly serving or are we simply self-serving? For these reasons, I don’t believe that troops, cops, or veterans should be granted any special privileges or rights that the people don’t enjoy. To believe otherwise says nothing more than you believe you are better than the people you serve.

P.S. This goes for prosecutors, judges, and every other special class of government official.

Active Shooter on Base? There’s an App for That

Only in the Army could leadership devise such a asinine response to a potential active shooter on base.

The Army announced Wednesday plans to release a mobile application that would allow soldiers and civilians to rapidly alert first responders during an active shooter incident.

Does anyone else see the glaring irony in that statement? The app is for SOLDIERS (who are trained marksman) to rapidly alert FIRST RESPONDERS during an active shooter incident. So, are our Soldiers no longer first responders? It boggles the mind why the Army wants to maintain a victim status of Soldiers on bases instead of allowing them to respond. So, what will this app do to help “first responders?”

“If adrenaline kicks in and they forget what to do in the moment, all of that information is right there in front of them,” said Matt MacLaughlin, a civilian employee at TRADOC Senior Mobile Training Development. “It should help everybody respond to that situation in the fastest manner possible.”

“We’re going to try to think for you,” MacLaughlin said in an Army release. “Because there’s situations where you won’t have time to think.”

Let me try and flush this out logically:

Active shooter begins and “first responders” arrive on the scene. As the bullets start to fly, adrenaline kicks in.

MP: “I don’t know what to do.”
MP Sergeant: “Hold on, Joe, let me check the app and find out.”
MP: “I’ve just been shot!”
MP Sergeant: “Hang on, I’m almost done analyzing all the information in this great app. CRAP!! I lost my signal!”
MP: “Sergeant, don’t sweat it. The app will think for you. Just have faith…and can you hand me your pressure dressing. I’m getting woozy.”
MP Sergeant: “There’s not a section here on what to do if you get shot!”
Unarmed Soldiers getting shot at: “HURRY UP ALREADY! WE’RE BEING SLAUGHTERED IN HERE BECAUSE THE ARMY IN IT’S INFINITE WISDOM THOUGHT AN APP IS BETTER THAN BUSTING A CAP.”

Let’s stop with all this touchy, feely nonsense and start allowing our Soldiers to defend themselves. Hell, at the VERY least allow sergeants and officers to carry or establish a military installation license to carry option. I’m not a fan of licensing away rights, but the very people who are trained to respond to a threat are unable to do so because the government has disarmed them.

Now, I know what kind of nonsense the critics are going to spew if we allow Soldiers to carry a handgun on base. “I can’t trust some Soldiers to show up to formation shaved, in the right uniform, and on time, much less carry a gun.” That a subjective determination and completely baseless excuse. I hear that all the time against constitutional carry, but unlicensed carry is law in 33 states and it isn’t an issue.

There are only two reason a Soldier can’t be trusted with a gun: you’re a tyrant and toxic leader who is really worried that the troops he abuses on a daily basis will exact their revenge on their maltreatment or he shouldn’t be in the military to begin with if he’s that incapable of being trusted with a gun.

I’ve got a better idea on how to respond to an active shooter. Instead of saying, “there’s an app for that,” let’s say, “there’s a bullet for that!”

Where is our “pro-gun” president and vice president to put a stop to this?!

A New Beginning

Well, I’ve decided to leave Facebook and hopefully regain so much lost time to that pathetic platform. I’ll still be keeping my public page open so that I can share these posts until we are able to create a way to subscribe to updates.

I’ve realized that Facebook has really not done much for me besides fuel my anger, rage, and anxiety. It’s too easy to post a quick link with a reactionary response to some stimuli without sorting through and analyzing its meaning, purpose, or full understanding. With a blog, I’m forced to be more academic and explanatory about things that I share. I know that there is a risk to doing this at a time when society doesn’t have time to sit and read blogs posts. We’ve migrated to 140-character verbal darts and paraphrased postings.

There’s also a lot going on in my personal life that I think can be more helpful to discuss in this type of forum. The truth is that all Facebook did for me is fuel all the negative aspects of my life. Now, I’m not looking to turn my head to corruption or tyranny, but instead want to be able to more fully flush it out. It’s no secret that the past four years since my unlawful arrest in Temple and the corrupt trial that followed I’ve been pretty soured on the state of freedom and the growing disrespect of government towards the people.

I’ve seen this corruption and what unbridled raw power does to people personally. In the past four years, I’ve come to see firsthand what happens to people who stand for something and against corruption. I’ve learned that the state does not like having its authority challenged, especially when that challenge is justified and proper. I’m not one of those anarchist guys that hates government. I firmly believe that there is a legitimate role of government, albeit a small one. What I hope to accomplish here in future writings is to document my efforts to regain our proper role in government and its proper responsibility at both the state and federal levels.

What is our role? Our Constitution makes clear in its first three words where the power lies in American government: “We the people.” It is our role to ensure that we select people who will not only abide by the constitution, but serve in the best interests of the RIGHTS of the people. The problem is that the people right now are only concerned with electing those that will serve the best interests of the people at the expense of their rights. We have become brainwashed that government is designed to give us what we want instead of wanting them out of our way to get what we deserve. The reason they won’t is because most people realize they don’t deserve anything and won’t work to get what they want.

My methods aren’t exactly the most widely respected way of doing things. Too many people have been conditioned that we need to be seen, not heard. They believe that we are supposed to treat government officials with deference and blind obedience. They think that we are here to do as we’re told and we should bow to authority by virtue of its existence. There is an unwritten rule that it’s okay to criticize elected government officials, but when it comes to the rest of government, we’re expected to treat them as demigods, idols, or above suspicion.

As a Soldier, I was subjected to this form of worship and it bothered me then as it does now. Government officials are just people, no different than anyone else. I didn’t join the Army to receive special treatment. I didn’t do it to be respected or have power over others. I recognized that when I wore that camouflage uniform, I was a servant to every single person with whom I came in contact. They were my employers and I both respected and appreciated that. I made sure that every dollar I had to spend was spent as effectively and economically as possible. My dedication to fiscal frugality resulted in me being assigned to manage unit training and operational budgets at both the Brigade and Corps level. It also earned me the disdain of troops (and leaders) trying to game the system and milk as much money out of the taxpayers as possible.

As such, I expect EVERY government employee at every level to recognize their role in society. Authority isn’t always about power. Power only comes with legitimate authority. Authority comes with responsibility. Responsibility come from trust. Trust comes from the people. If the people don’t trust you, you can’t be responsible. People lacking responsibility have no authority and thus no power. It all boils down to government’s duty to ALWAYS ensure that government officials at every earn the trust of the people. It should never be taken for granted and it should never be solely based on what uniform or nametag we wear.

That is my goal here to document my journey to ensure this is how things remain.

Amazingly Skilled Harrier Pilot

There are pilots and then there are Harrier pilots. While I’m personally a fan of the A-10 and always will be (unless something comes along that really knocks me off my feet), I must admit that Harriers are #2 on my list. I’ve had my ass saved by an A-10 in combat and Harriers are just cool jets! Check out the video of this pilot who had to land on what amounts to a stool when his landing gear failed.

What’s Going On With Senior Army Leadership?

Throughout history, general officers have had a lot of responsibilities. They were from the elite class and were considered to be the gentlemen of the military. Until the latter part of the American Revolution generals were considered sacrosanct and were not targeted by enemy troops. Not much has changed over the past few centuries except a transition from European-style linear warfare to American-style total warfare. Generals have special court martial authority. They have virtual dictatorial control over the troops and land they command. They are treated like kings with their own chefs, drivers, and privileges. They make the laws that govern their units and the bases they command. They are the legislative, judicial, and executive branch of the military. A general officer letter of reprimand is a career killer and often used when non-judicial or criminal punishment isn’t possible since it cannot be challenged.

In the past few years, a growing number of generals are finding themselves in hot water. The same people that are responsible for discipline and good order are forgetting what that means in their own spheres. There aren’t a lot of generals in the Army – about 231. So, when a general gets in trouble, it’s a big deal. Generals demand accountability. When subordinate officers make a mistake, they are expected to own up to it and take responsibility for their actions. Even innocent mistakes that anyone would have made could ruin an officer’s career. While their careers are ruined in public, generals have the details of their discipline and accusations largely hidden from public scrutiny for fear of it reducing confidence in the corps.

So, I was a little surprised when I read Maj. Gen. Wayne Grigsby’s excuse for having an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate captain.

“I do not want to make any excuses, but you can see from my record that I have been deployed [eight] times for a total of [six and a half] years — practically every other year since 9/11,” Grigsby wrote in his response to the April memorandum of reprimand that sealed his fate. “Due in large part to this frenetic schedule, I have been struggling with my family situation for a while, attempting to balance a military career and be the husband, father and grandfather I desired to be and what my family reasonably expected from me.”

Can you imagine what the General’s response would have been if an enlisted soldier, NCO, or junior officer was standing before his desk and used the excuse, “my deployments made me do it!?” He’d have the book thrown at him.

When I was in Afghanistan, there was a similar incident with a general on Kandahar Airfield where I was based. I had briefed BG Jeffrey Sinclair on several occasions and even had to stand before him when that disgraced former blogger who shall not be named filed baseless accusations against me and attempted to disrupt our mission. Here’s a man that was judging me while he himself was doing far worse than I was even accused of doing. But, he was allowed to keep his rank, his pay, and didn’t serve any jail time.

A news release by the Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office listed the charges presented against Sinclair as including “forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, attempted violation of an order, violations of regulations by wrongfully engaging in inappropriate relationships and misusing a government travel charge card, violating general orders by possessing alcohol and pornography while deployed, maltreatment of subordinates, filing fraudulent claims, engaging in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman and engaging in conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline, or of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces.”

In 2015, a Major General was reprimanded for steering defense contracts to his friends. Brigadier General Bobeck was removed from command last year and remains under investigation for a similar reason in addition to an extramarital affair.

Military discipline begins at the top. The top needs to pick itself up by its bootstraps and do some self-evaluation. The last thing it needs to do is start excusing bad behavior due to “optempo.” Generals have it easy in combat theaters. They have amazing billets, delicious food, priority travel (including their own helicopters), and don’t have to generally worry about being shot at. I would take a general officer’s optempo with the perks that come along with it any day over the optempo and lifestyle of the average grunt.

Exempting Congress from DC Gun Laws Bad Idea

Before I delve into this subject, I want to make a few disclaimers. First, anyone that knows me knows that I am an unconditional defender of the 2nd amendment. I believe that “shall not be infringed” means zero infringements. None. Even felons who have served their time should have their rights reinstated. If they’re truly a danger to society, they shouldn’t be in society. I know plenty of people who are as hardline on the 2A as I am, but I don’t really know any that are more so. This post isn’t about opposing legislation that will expand gun rights so much as it is about a demand for equal protection under the law. I believe that congressmen, their staffs, and anyone else should have the right to defend their own lives wherever they set their feet. Yes, that includes hospitals, schools, courtrooms, and anywhere else corrupt politicians have deemed to be politically correct and necessary to ban self-defense tools. Second, I know that there isn’t an actual bill that’s been filed or considered yet, so we’re putting the cart before the horse at this time. Finally, I think it’s absurd that Congress even has to contemplate passing laws that essentially force government entities to obey the constitutional rights of the people and overturn laws that never should have been passed in the first place.

Within days of a Bernie Sanders supporter attempting to murder several key Republican lawmakers as they were playing softball, Republican Representative Barry Loudermilk from Georgia and Republican Representative Thomas Massie from Kentucky are suggesting legislation that would exempt congressmen from the tough restrictions on keeping and bearing arms in Washington, D.C. The nation’s capital has already lost its Supreme Court battle over the right to keep arms within one’s home, but has steadfastly opposed the “bear arms” clause of the 2nd amendment outside of it. This suggestion for legislation may make some gun owners happy, but no one should applaud this effort to allow congressmen to exempt themselves from D.C. statutes. The irony here is that these same people are trying to exempt themselves from laws that they themselves gave the city the authority to pass in the first place.

Article I, Section 8 of our constitution gives Congress the authority to “exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over…the Seat of the Government.” In layman’s terms, that means Congress has the authority to dictate every single law in effect in Washington, D.C. In most cases, they’ve delegated that authority to a D.C. Council complete with a mayor. Obviously, this is a smart thing to do since Congress has better things to worry about most of the time than micromanaging a city – not that that has ever stopped them. However, that doesn’t negate their authority over the district just because they delegated it. For example, a battalion commander delegates authority to a company commander over his company, but that doesn’t mean that the battalion commander can’t dictate what the company does or its policies. Technically, Congress could completely dissolve the city council, fire the mayor, pass a law relating solely to D.C., repeal a law passed by the council, create a military dictatorship, whatever. If Rep. Loudermilk is so frustrated with D.C.’s unconstitutional gun control laws, all he has to do is get congress to overrule it. Simple as that. It could eve be argued that said laws do not require presidential signature.

As is typical of elected cockroaches, they are loathe to let a good crisis go to waste and this shooting is no different. The wounding of five of their own has awakened a sense of urgency to do something to protect these elitists who think their lives are more important than everyone else’s. It’s amazing that all it took was five of them getting hurt to get their attention. In 2016, there were nearly 6,000 violent crimes committed in the ten square miles of our nation’s capital. Of that number, 135 were considered homicides. Already this year, there have been 50 homicides and slightly more than 2,000 violent crimes! Where was Congress after each of those 5,759 violent crimes? Where were they after the 135 homicides? Where have they been after the 50 homicides and 2,003 violent crimes in just the past six months alone? Do they only care about the 0.08% of those affected, which is them? Don’t the 99.92% remaining victims of violent crime deserve self-preservation?

If Congress truly cared about the people, they would have been acting tough to allow law abiding citizens to carry in self-defense long ago. They are the ones being targeted and slaughtered; not Congress. They are the ones that have to walk the streets unprotected; not Congress. They are the ones that have to hope and pray that a police officer gets to them in time or, if they don’t, is able to catch the perpetrator after the fact; not Congress. They are the ones that are exposed where they live, where they shop, and where they work; not Congress. So, after an average 5,600 violent crimes annually in D.C., Congress suddenly recognizes D.C. gun laws are a problem after just five are affected.

I fully support a law that would allow Congressmen to carry their firearms in self-defense. They should. They are the targets of psychotic Democrats just like the rest of us. However, they shouldn’t be more concerned with only exempting themselves at the expense of thousands of others. There is a Republican majority in both chambers of Congress and in the White House. There is no excuse this can’t get done.

Today, I went to my representative’s district office in the hopes that he – John Carter – would either push for language or an amendment that included ALL law-abiding citizens to be exempted from unconstitutional infringements on our 2nd amendment rights in D.C. or vote no on any bill that creates another special class of citizen for elected officials. Since there isn’t a bill to reference, they didn’t have an answer for me right away. Like our representatives, I should be able to go to the nation’s capital and have the ability to defend myself should the need arise. As I travel through and among the contiguous states, I shouldn’t have to worry whether or not I’m carrying “legally.” I shouldn’t have to be disarmed when I visit my congressman’s office in his district either because the building is a “federal building” and therefore a “gun-free zone.” I kinda made a mistake today, but I won’t tell anyone. Let’s just say my gun didn’t jump out of its holster and hurt or threaten anyone.

Congress does need to fix the problem with D.C. flaunting the basic civil rights of Americans. But, they need to fix it for everyone; not just themselves.

The Immigration Conundrum

I’ve been watching the immigration debate surrounding Trump’s executive order with interest. I spent the last 15 years of my military career as a counterintelligence agent with a focus on counter-terrorism. In fact, it was the USS Cole bombing in 2000 that convinced me to change jobs from a Spanish Signal Intelligence Voice Intercept Operator/Linguist. While I was in training for my new job, 9/11 happened. I was more motivated than ever.

I find it laughable as a gun rights activist when I hear liberals – especially Obama – push gun control with the “if we can save just one life” narrative. The hypocrisy is glaring that they take on a completely different tone when it comes to immigration control. My take is a bit different. It isn’t about saving one life; it’s about saving tens of thousands. If this was truly about banning Muslims, why didn’t we add the other 36-41 Muslim nations to the list?

A recent CBS News propaganda piece trying to brainwash its readers into supporting illegal immigration found that 1.7% of illegal immigrants (I intentionally didn’t use the word “undocumented” as the story did) “had an incarceration rate of 1.7 percent, compared with 10.7 percent for native-born men without a high school diploma.” Notice the slight of hand? They compare ALL illegal immigrants, but narrow down the native-born category to just “men without a high school diploma.” If you were to include ALL Americans the way CBS News included ALL illegal immigrants, the percentage is 0.7% of LEGAL citizens incarcerated and that is assuming the worst case estimate of 2.3 million people in prison and a population of about 319 million.

The Pew Research Center estimates that there are approximately 11.1 million illegal aliens in this country. The Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform, using DHS data, noted that this number increases by about 700,000 every year. This includes those overstaying their properly obtained visas. Using the CBS News numbers, that means that there are about 188,700 illegal aliens incarcerated for crimes – including rape and murder – with approximately 11,900 new criminals coming into this country every year. So, the argument should be “if we can save just 200,000 victims every year…”

While I can’t get into specifics for obvious reasons of classification, I can say with certainty that among those 700k entering our country each year are people whose sole purpose is criminal activity and terrorism. They are exploiting our weak borders and lack of enforcement. These are groups like MS13, and La Raza that want to reclaim parts of the south for Mexico as well as extremist Islamic terrorists that want to hijack the next plane or bomb the next marathon.

On January 27th, President Trump signed an executive order barring immigration from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen until a system of extreme vetting can be created to ensure that the likelihood of terrorists entering this country is minimized as much as possible. Let’s take a look at the mindset of people in these countries.

In Iraq, nearly one in ten people think that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against civilians in the name of Islam is justified. 39% of the people in Afghanistan believe that suicide bombings and other forms of violence against citizens is justified. Nearly all Iranians have been brainwashed into wanting the destruction of the United States. 8% of American Muslims say that violence is “sometimes” or “often” justified against civilians in the name of Islam. Iran, Sudan, Libya, Syria and Yemen are all state sponsors of terrorism. We already have bans on North Koreans entering our country, another state sponsor of terrorism. Approximately, 49 nations are listed as “Muslim” nations. Most of them are not state-sponsors of terrorism, though Saudi Arabia could be argued is one. So, to all the liberals – the same ones led by President Clinton that raided a home in Miami and ripped Elian Gonzalez from his uncle’s arms at gunpoint – who think that this is a ban on Muslims, any rational being would clearly see it is not. Of course, liberals are not rational so that point is moot. They suffer from TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). That said, we should treat everyone in this country with respect, no matter who they are. It’s not disrespectful to kick people out who are here illegally.

If you think otherwise, consider this video from a contractor in Iraq.

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 gives the president broad authority over protecting the United States by preventing or slowing immigration from certain places. It specifically states,

“Whenever the President finds that the entry of any aliens or of any class of aliens into the United States would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation, and for such period as he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants, or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.”

We are a nation of immigrants. No one can deny that. My family emigrated from England where we were nobility at one time. In fact, there is a law school named after one my ancestors in London. My, how far we’ve fallen. However, we are also a nation of laws and sovereignty. I know there are people reading this who don’t believe in borders. Borders are what protect our way of life, our safety, our republic, and our success. They ensure that those coming here respect our constitution and our system of laws (even though we have disdain for many of them ourselves). For example, in most Muslim countries there is overwhelming support for Sharia law, especially in the countries on the Trump ban. Most of that support is above 80%! Sharia is incompatible with our system of law and Europe is now having to deal with the repercussions of their lax immigration policy.

What’s happening in Syria and in much of the Muslim world 1) has been happening for millennia and 2) won’t be solved by siphoning out their best and brightest. Assuming we aren’t bringing their best and brightest to this country, why would we want to bring people here who will only be a drain on our already strained economy? There are countries in the Middle East that should be stepping up and taking care of the problems in their own backyard. If they won’t help their own neighbors, why should we. I know, it’s “because we’re better than that,” right? That bigoted argument only suggests that the people coming over here are inferior to us or not as good. At the MOST, what I think we should be doing is helping to establish safe zones over there for refugees. That way, if and when the conflict is over 2,000 years from now, they will still have their culture.

I’m always told that I need to pick my fights. I admit that I seem to appear as if I’m always looking for one. My philosophy is that I don’t really recognize degrees of wrong when it comes to government. Wrong is wrong and I will stand up to wrong every time. This Syria thing isn’t our fight. Bringing people to this country where 10% of the people support terrorism and some of them actually sponsor it is reckless, dangerous, and downright deplorable.

If we can save just one life…

The PTSD Addiction

Every now then, a song will pop up on my playlist that fills me with emotion and motivation to write something. Before I begin, watch this video by Blue October.


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The Vicious Cycle

I’ve talked extensively on this blog about my constant battle with the demons of war. Even though they are largely managed, they are still there and the fight is still raging on inside my head. After years of training, counseling, and progress, it is much easier to keep the negativity suppressed. Lately, that’s been a bit harder to do. Now, since I know that my critics in the gun control crowd are always choking at the chance to tag something on me, I’m not talking about violent tendencies. I’m talking about creeping depression, feelings of failure, and other areas of anxiety that PTSD tries to drag you down with. This time, I’m specifically talking about anger.

As I sit here at 0130 in the morning – again trying to find sleep in vain – I’ve been thinking a lot about my case. It infuriates me that I still don’t have closure as we move into the 4th year since my unlawful arrest. Tonight (or this morning), I’ve been trying to process my feelings towards government and law enforcement and how those feelings have changed since that fateful day. I find myself in a battle over whether I should feel bad or not about this change of thought. How did I get to a place where I can no longer look at a cop and feel safe; where instead of feelings of pride and patriotism, I feel feelings of loathing and contempt? I try to tell myself that I don’t “hate” cops, but I find it more and more difficult to convince myself that it’s true.

I used to want to be a cop. In Jacksonville, Florida, I was in the Explorer program and used to do a lot of fun things with the police. We used to help direct traffic, assist with parking, and other fun things with the police. Then, when I was in high school, I went to a dual credit school to earn credit towards criminal justice. I went to the Westside Skills Center for half a day and my regular high school – N.B. Forrest High School – the other half. I excelled in that field and loved it. I learned to do plaster casting, finger printing, and other useful investigative techniques. I even placed first in fingerprinting at a state competition. When I was approached to join the Army, I wanted to be an MP, but at the time there was a height requirement – that I didn’t meet.

Even though I wasn’t able to get into the law enforcement field until a few years later, I always held a special respect and reverence for the profession. Even while I was in the Army, I found time to go on ride-alongs with various departments on a weekend here or there in Las Vegas while I was stationed at Ft. Irwin. My time working with them as a kid was always positive. I saw them as the good guys. We helped people with flat tires or pushed their cars a few blocks if they ran out of gas. Either I was only exposed to the positive side, things have changed drastically, or I was incredibly ignorant, but I don’t feel the same way anymore.

I was stationed at Redstone Arsenal when my perception of the good cop was first shaken. It was 2009 and I was embroiled in a heated issue over school uniforms with many other parents at my kids’ middle school. As I walked into a PTA meeting, I noticed that there were five uniformed Huntsville PD officers and three school security guards. That had NEVER happened at a PTA meeting. After an incredibly heated exchange in which I ultimately slammed my hands on the table in objection to the PTA president’s behavior and began to leave, the police officer that had been hovering over me the entire meeting was in my face and forcing me to leave anyway. He trailed me down the hall not a half step behind me barking orders in my ear the whole way. I told him several times calmly to back off of me before I turned around to tell him to his face to back off. At that point, he threw me into the wall. I cocked back my arm about to defend myself when my wife snapped me out of it and implored me to back down. I told the officer to let me go through clenched teeth and he did, so I continued down the hall and out of the school. I filed a complaint against the officer for assault (the school cameras were miraculously down on that hallway that particular night – go figure) and agreed to a sit down with the chief and the officer. I learned that the officers had been lied to about my actions at previous meetings and they were told that I had made several threats and they “feared for their safety.” Based on what they were told, I understood why they had such an aggressive mindset and excused the behavior because they were given false information.

The school issue caused me a lot of trouble in Alabama. It created friction between me and Army leadership, Army leadership and the school, and me and the school. I had already completed my minimum First Sergeant time and worked out a plan to relocate. My command said I could go wherever I wanted and I chose Fort Hood so I could be close to home. It also around this same time that I started getting help for PTSD thanks to encouragement from then-Vice Chief of Staff of the Army General Peter Chiarelli. I came to Ft. Hood for a fresh start and to get my head cleared away from all the drama in Alabama in 2009.

In 2013, my faith in law enforcement was finally shattered. In March of that year, the arrest heard round the world happened when I was charged for refusing to be illegally disarmed. Because I still had a lot of respect for law enforcement, the initial encounter was friendly. I answered his questions and didn’t even get upset when the officer grabbed my rifle to look at it. Even when he tried to disarm me, I tried to calmly and cordially encourage him not to illegally disarm me, but the moment I put my hands on my property to retain possession, the cop pulled his gun to my head, slammed his boot on my foot, and slammed me onto the hood of his patrol car for no reason. As in Alabama, I had done nothing wrong, but found myself being assaulted by a thug with a badge. But, that wasn’t the worst of it.

When his supervisor arrived, he lied to his supervisor. He lied on his police report. The department continually lied to the media. They forced my son to answer questions without an attorney or parent present in spite of him invoking his rights not to answer questions. They lied on the witness stand. They tried to get my son to testify that I was a horrible father or that I WANTED to cause trouble – neither of which he did.

Then, in November of that same year, a bunch of fellow veterans and I went to the capitol in Austin on Veterans Day to protest violations of the rights we had fought to protect as Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. There was another Veterans Day event on the south side of the grounds, so we went to the north side so as no to interfere with the other event. Just as we got started, some DPS troopers – about a dozen of them – arrived and began trying to force us to leave. Because we were breaking no laws and had a right to be there, we refused. Several troopers made a b-line right to me and told me to leave. When I asked what authority they had to tell me to leave, I was arrested for “criminal trespassing.” Their ostensible reasoning was because we were armed, but I made clear to them I was carrying a holstered toy gun. Instead of doing the right thing, they arrested me anyway and added the charge of “resisting arrest.”

So, between my arrest in March 2013 and November 2013, there were 23 other “arrests” for lawful carry of a firearm. I saw firsthand what happens when you try to stand up for your rights. I lost a lot of friends – or people I thought were friends – during this ordeal. Much of it was because of my behavior that was due to my decent into a deep depression. I began pushing people away that were close to me. I almost destroyed my marriage. I was hitting rock bottom. I wanted to die. And I tried to.

The events of 2013 opened my eyes. After I was convicted of “interference” – an offense I wasn’t even arrested on – and saw how the criminal “justice” system worked and how far cops will go to cover their own asses instead of doing the right thing, I could no longer believe what I believed for so long. I could no longer see the cops as the “good guys” any longer. I saw them as a threat to my liberty, my safety, and my very life. I realized that they are only “good” as long as it serves them to be so. When it comes down to them or you, they’ll choose them. Now, I’m painting with a broad brush and I know there are some good cops out there (I know a few who are no doubt reading this and they know that I know who they are). But, I have personally witnessed enough bad cops that I can no longer blindly cheer lead for the profession.

This doesn’t mean that I’m a cop hater by any means. I don’t support attacks on law enforcement that aren’t in self defense. I don’t celebrate when cops are killed. I’m not a “cop blocker” of any sort. There is a need for cops in society and I don’t doubt that even though I’m sure some of my friends disagree with me. I will always treat everyone with the same respect they give to me, but whenever a cop approaches me I can’t help but feel like they are looking for a reason to assert their authority over me, teach me a lesson, or throw me in jail for the hell of it.

So, what we have here is a vicious cycle that we need to stop. There is a lot of tension between many in society and the law enforcement community. People complain about groups like Cop Block, Cop Watch, or PINAC, but they never take a moment to wonder why groups like that have even come to exist. We can kind of trace their origin back to the Rodney King beating. Thanks to a “cop watcher” who was filming the beating of Mr. King, police brutality made its way into the public spotlight. People complain that all these other people are putting up videos of bad cop interactions, but they refuse to analyze why those video exist in the first place. The more people film, the more cops get pissed that they’re being filmed and act against it – which causes more reasons to film! If cops always did the right thing, there would be no reason to film them, would there?

I learned firsthand the value of filming every encounter with law enforcement in 2013. I wish I had a video camera with me in 2009 in that school hallway. I now film EVERY encounter I have with a government official, no matter how trivial the matter may be. When I had an issue with the superintendent recently and the cops were called because I refused to return my EMPTY holster to my car during a volleyball game, the superintendent asked to meet with me. However, he wouldn’t let me record the meeting so I refused to meet with him. The only government officials that have a reason to fear being recorded are government officials who have something to hide.

I don’t like that I feel unsafe if I don’t record. I don’t like worse that I feel like I have to film in a way that the video is automatically uploaded somewhere it can’t be deleted because I don’t trust them not to try to erase my footage. I wish I didn’t have to feel that unsafe around cops that I need such protection. It used to be that I could feel safe as long as I was armed, but now I have to have a camera too and that should be unsettling to every freedom-loving human being.

Unfortunately, this is not going to change anytime soon. The law enforcement community largely refuses to look inward for the causes of the growing rift between the servants and the served. They always want to blame someone else for anything bad that happens. They protect each other instead of the people. As they do so, the people get more and more fed up. This causes tension, which causes cops to get more aggressive, which causes more people to get fed up. The escalation continues and we get to a point where cops are being MURDERED at an alarming rate! What is even more disturbing is that there is a growing number of people in society who truly aren’t moved by this. These murders of law enforcement should be unanimously condemned, but more and more people are seeing these events as an effect. They don’t see the cause as just criminal thugs that hate cops, but that cops are bringing this upon themselves.

That is a dangerous line of thought that should really send off warning sirens throughout the law enforcement community. Why are more and more Americans becoming ambivalent towards these targeting of cops? We’re no longer talking about extremists or anarchists here; we’re talking about average people who aren’t as upset as they should be about cops getting shot. In his 5th principle of police work, Sir Robert Peel said that, “To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion, but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour, and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life” is what all cops should strive to be and do.

Until there is a fundamental attitude shift in the “thin blue line” mindset from “protect our own” to “do what’s right, even to our own detriment” we will continue to see this growing rift. The onus on breaking the cycle is on the law enforcement community. Until the “good cops” start acting like the brave warriors society thinks they are by refusing to back up the “bad apples”, they will continue to all be spoiled in the bunch. There is a fear of doing the right thing and stopping injustice when they see it happening because they don’t want to undermine their fellow officers. What they fail to realize is that if they actually did that, it would do more to gain the trust and confidence of the public than any other single action. Until good cops stop standing idly by and allowing bad cops to harass, assault, arrest or otherwise “teach us a lesson”, the public opinion that Peel was talking about will get worse and worse. They must heed Peel’s charge to “maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full-time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.”

It’s almost 0300, so if something doesn’t seem right above, let me know in the comments and I’ll explain further or make appropriate edits.

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.)

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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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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