Friday, April 8, 2016

Ramblings of a Wanderer.



I

Greetings from a comfy couch... I have the house of a friend to myself and I thought I should write a bit about what's going on.. Someday, I might want to revisit these times in my life...

I started out on the Appalachian Trail at Amicalola Falls, Ga. a few weeks ago.. Why.? you might ask.. Why not fix your motorcycle and get back into the wind.? I love motorcycles... they, and the people who ride them have been apart of the majority of my life.. I could, with a small amount of effort, rebuild Ole Glory and be back to twisting the throttle and Seeing the world at 80mph. And someday, I will again.. When I ride, I am consumed. There is no white noise in my head. I'm focused on the task of staying alive.. Very little else enters my mind. The sound of my machine. The whistle of the wind as a blast of hot air hits me broadside and I lean the machine to maintain a straight line..  The condition of the road. The weather. The gas gauge. At around 90mph my vision becomes tunneled. There are no more fence posts or highline poles. It is magical and I do love the feeling... But......
When I'm on the road, thats ALL I think about. It is The Great Escape.. and  right now in my life I really need to concentrate. Thats why I decided to go for a walk about... Things look different at foot speed and you have time to explore. Yes. the scenery in the wilderness is amazing but that is not the only exploration I'm doing...

Some know that I checked in to the Dublin Ga. VA on 12/21/15. Sense that time I have been concentrating on learning everything I can about PTSD, Its effects and the way the Veterans Administration is operating.. Prior to Dec. 2015, I had had Zero dealings with the VA. I did not know anything more than what the general public knew... I have learned a lot so far, but I have only scratched the surface. I am currently going through Congressional investigations on three separate issues regarding the VA. As I've said before, I found my Why.. that is to Glorify my God.. I have found my What... To Honor our Veterans with Dignity by effecting change in the Veterans Administration through educating the public.... That is why I am founding "The Veterans Dignity Project". Soon to be a 501c3 recognized non profit...

 Our Mission Statement.....

.....To fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.. Our Mission statement is the same as The Veterans Administration...

So now,, I have my Why... I have my What... Now I spend my time considering the possibilities... What can I do to effect change..? Thats the question that I keep chewing on.. And I'm confident that by the end of hiking the Appalachian Trail, I will have formed a clear picture of my vision.. I have been mulling over different possibilities and have had some "light bulb moments". 

I saw a video the other day.. It was of a Vermont State Police Troop doing 22 push-ups in recognition of the 22 Veterans who take their own lives, each day in America.. Think about that for a second... Could 22 push-ups help a Veteran.? Yes. Because it sheds light on the issue.. Do you know why 22 Veterans a day commit suicide in the USA.??  Would you do 22 push ups to save a Veteran.?  It's not about the push-ups.. Its about addressing an issue. The issue is this... President Lincoln's promise is not being fulfilled...

It takes people to effect change... 
Our Government still answers to The People.. The problem as I see it, is that the general public has no idea what is going on... Nor their responsibility to honor a commitment that was given to every American Service Member. As Americans, We owe a debt to the men and woman who have served Our Country. I don't think many would deny that truth.. The solution is simple.... START THE CONVERSATION. Be the nucleus of change. Write an e-mail to your Congressman. Become INVOLVED.

I still battle my demons Daily. I'm convinced that until some of these demons are tamed, my integration back into society is not an option.. Yes, I could do it, but it would again be but a short time until that would crumble.. I've lived that cycle too many times.. I will continue on my journey. Seeking the healing of my mind and body.. Planning for a future. Dealing with the past.. And educating  myself and others . 

Motorcycles are still in my heart and blood.. I will get back to that as soon as I can. When I do, I will be riding for a better reason. I think it will be more enjoyable to ride in a direction instead of away from something. 

Thanks for your time.
Peace&Grease.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WHY EVEN TRY?


I've tried before..... I've tried and failed. I've tried and succeeded. But I've never succeeded without trying...  Thats the nuts of it.. 

I woke up this morning and I'm ready to embark on a 6 month odyssey. Then I look at the weather forcast for Amicalola Falls State Park, Ga. (My start point for The Appalachian Trail.). tomorrows forcast is 100% chance of rain. Do I postpone my start by one day.? What should i do.? I'm of two minds.. Fuck it... sometimes it rains... I'm not gonna have 6months of sunshine... "Endeavor to persevere". Or maybe I'll just wait until tomorrow... I'll leave that up to my friend who is driving me to my starting point...  It matters not to me... 

Some folks have asked,,, (I'll rephrase the question), Why, ? a 48 yr old out of shape, disabled, Veteran with a "Mental Disorder"would even attempt to hike the Appalachian Trail.? my answer is this..... For all those reasons and more. ... I sought the help of the VA.. I did... They kicked me out saying that I was angry and a non conformist.. While there, I found my bearing again... I now know WHY... I now know WHAT.  (read the last few entries into this blog). Some have called this "a Spiritual Journey". I think they are part right.. I'm going exploring in the wilderness.. Some of that will be on a dirt path. Some of that will be in the darkness of my mind..  

I have a Dream.. Its called, "THE VETERAN DIGNITY PROJECT". you will be hearing a lot about this from me soon.. My goal is to help Veterans and by doing so, improve The Veterans Administration.. The wheels have been set in motion to do accomplish that goal.. This trail will give me the guidance and direction to best fulfill this mission.

You might be asking... "What can I do to help?"....... I have no earthly idea.. I'm headed north and thats about all I know... I will be stopping in to check on a friend and defile his hottub for a bit, around mid to late April.. If you think of something that I might need or enjoy,, my mail address will be,
Don Wood
21Pressley rd.
Ashville, NC 28805
(PS.. nothing packs lighter than cash.). just sayin... Paypal. donwood223@gmail.com

I will be taking my laptop, a camera and my video gear on the trail with me. When I find WIFI in the towns along the trail I will be posting updates to the blog and Facebook... If you have not yet, Please. click on the follow button on my facebook page. the more followers I have the more "Marketable" this adventure could be..

Thank you all for your support and encouragements. You give me more than I can ever repay..

until next time,
Peace&Grease


  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

It just takes Time.

"How are You?"
We pass by each other and they ask, "How You doin?" In the VA hospital I encountered hundreds of people who do not know me.. Without slowing their pace or even maintaining eye contact they would ask in passing, "How are You today?" As if it was a pre programmed greeting.. With no time to listen for a response. If they cared they would wait for a response.. People don't care. Not enough to honestly be interested. There hasn't been enough trust built yet for me to tell the truth.. yeah. Its sad but we all know its the truth..

"I'm fine. and You?" They are far enough past me that my question to them is not responded to. I've lost the ability to continue this phony game of human contact.. It took me to a bitter place and I didn't like it there.. "Fine" is a lie. Its a cover up. It's as dishonest as we can possibly be... So I changed the ways I respond... I'm good. Who, Me.? Above Ground. Peachy. or completely disregard their question and reply, "Sir, or Ma'am.". This isn't a new thing for me.. I've been avoiding that question, "How You doin?" for most of my life.. I can imagine their heads exploding if I actually replied truthfully.

Imagine this scenario.
I'm not doing well today. I woke up remembering all  the horrific things i saw in my sleep last night. I didn't sleep much because of it.. The insomnia is related to my depression and the suicidal thoughts usually don't wait till after breakfast. I've been thinking about a grieving friend who lost their child to disease and is not coping well. The morning news has me convinced that the government is corrupt and that the election is rigged.  The VA has forgot its mission statement and there is no one who honors their Oath of Office. We have people living and dying in the streets every day while some have more than they can spend. No, I don't want them to be governed into doing whats right.. but their greed has effected their humanity..  and How are you.?

As a member of this species, we are compelled to care for one another.. that includes our time. It takes time and effort to be concerned for your fellow man.. If I ask you, How are you.? I want the truth. If you say, Fine. Im calling Bullshit. We Are Not Fine. Each of us have our own issues and demons. Each of us need the counsel of our dear friends. thats what friends do.. I remember learning early, "you got two ears and one mouth, listen twice as much". Listen to people. yes, it might be the wrong time or setting to have that conversation but,,, let them know that you care. that you are willing to listen if they want to talk.. Engage people. We all need help. and sometimes, the best advice comes from strangers. (tell your problem to a stranger and, trust me, you will get an opinion..)

Helping others benefits you. Do you remember how good you felt the last time you truly helped someone..? I call them warm fuzzies.. We all have the ability to help someone. and we all know someone who needs help.. A restaurant gift card for your neighbors date night. Yeah, volunteer to watch their kids. It's a gift.. and let the gift be your only motivation.. Know your friends well enough that you know what will help them... thats big stuff right there... It will change Your life for sure..

 It just takes time...



Until next time,
Peace&Grease.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My WHAT = My Mission

I figured out my Why.. It took some hard soul searching to figure that out.. Between the PTSD and depression, I was constantly having suicidal thoughts. I couldn't think of a strong enough reason to continue.. I was lacking purpose. Imagine playing a game where you have rules and they have rules and the rules keep changing and there is no defined goal so there is no way to know if you are winning or loosing... can you imagine the frustration.? That is what I was up against.. For me to continue, I had to find my WHY. Thankfully I did..


The next step was to define the WHAT... This might sound crazy to some but there is a logic in my order... "What you do in life isn't as important as WHY you do it". think about that... Its about motivation... Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons can lead to disaster.. That is why I put WHY before WHAT.

Those who know me will tell you that I have a desire to help. To serve others above self.. That is a quality that was instilled in me in the Army.. This is a picture of our Unit Crest. 4bn/23d Infantry Regiment.


That covers a lot of ground.. I needed to define a smaller target. AIM SMALL. MISS SMALL.
I had spent a lot of time and energy fighting all the different enemies. I came to the conclusion that those issues won't change until society changes them. Part of the mission is to have a defined goal. I had to figure out what was Most important to me.. Yes, I still care about all the same things as before but the difference is now I'm focused on what matters the Most to me..

The Veterans Administrations website says this...

Mission Statement

To fulfill President Lincoln's promise “To care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan” by serving and honoring the men and women who are America’s Veterans.
I plan to help them with Their mission..
I have decided to start a non profit Veterans Advocacy organization with the expressed goal of seeking out, motivating and overcoming the obstacles Veterans encounter when seeking the services they earned.  In the next couple of months I will be building the infrastructure of this organization.. Developing the website, blog, paypal, literature, filing for 501-c3 status and building relationships with a couple of congressmen.. among other things... let me tell you what I've got in mind..
In my time here at the VA hospital I have learned some disturbing things.. They are understaffed. less than 50%. They placed me in the Homeless program instead of the PTSD program because this facility gets more funding that way..  In the last 7 yrs this facility has changed the PTSD program 5 times. Just these three issues are cause for alarm.. The problem is systemic and needs to be addressed at the Congressional level. I plat to take my experience here as far as The Secretary of the VA. Change is needed but it must come from the top down.. 
I'm still going to travel.. I still have a large network of people who believe in me. I plan to increase the reach of the organization to achieve these goals. Lets say, A Veteran has a substance abuse problem. Maybe he needs information. I can help. Maybe he needs transportation, I can help. Maybe he needs direction, I can help. Maybe he needs some motivation, we can help. Maybe he needs a bit of financial support to make treatment an option. we can help. (there are many who have become dependent on VA issued pain drugs. its not just alcohol). Now for the twist.. what if we task that Veteran with evaluating the VA.? (he's already doing it in his mind). As an undercover operative they can gain valuable intelligence about the programs and facilities. The best intel comes from "boots on the ground". I'm talking about questionnaires with defined questions related to the services he is there for. Is there enough staff.? Facility conditions? A way to rate the level of service. We can then compile that information as a report to the leadership of the VA. If they choose to disregard the information, we have what is necessary to go public. The objective is to improve the system. 
Compendium of Standards, Codes, and Principles of Nonprofit and Philanthropic Organizations.
This is The standard for non-profits that is my guide.
Charity Navigator is the site that rates Non Profit organizations
my goal is a 4 star rating. 
This is the mission I have chosen to be my lifes work. Helping others individually and collectively improving our future..
Thank you..
Peace&Grease
EDIT.
I posted this last night.. This morning I was told that I was being discharged from The VA hospital... I don't believe in coincidence....

Saturday, February 27, 2016

I found my WHY.

on 21 December, 2015, I checked myself in to the Carl Vinson VA med center in Dublin, Ga. Not knowing at the time that this specific hospital was ranked in the bottom 20% of all the VA facilities.. I was at the end of my rope. I had been talking with my closest people for about a year in regards to seeking help with my issues. It was often the case that a Veteran would warn me away from the VA based on their own experiences. My friends in the Infantry and Special Forces communities advised against the VA and suggested that I seek help from the non- profits and civilian markets. The only knowledge I had of the VA was what I had seen in media and information from these confidants. The only knowledge I had of this facility was that my grandfather had passed away here from old age, many years ago..

I needed help.. My life had been a continual exercise of bad decisions with a few moments of easy sailing.. Unsteady work history, broken relationships, drinking in excess and too many episodes of using drugs to cope with life. Trust issues, abandonment issues, major depression, insomnia and its opposite. Nightmares and visions in horrifying details. Sleeping like a guard dog when I could sleep. I distanced myself from everyone who actually cared. It was easier to isolate than to explain what I was going through. Suicidal thinking would turn into planning. The depression and inability to deal with society would drive me to extremes. My temper, my training and my lack of anger management was driving me to a very dangerous place.The highs of my public life looked good on paper but the reality was that I was nothing more than a shell of a man. Near death experiences multiple times, was not enough to turn my mind around. I knew from online testing that I had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. so I sought help.

Nobody knew. I had not told one person. Not family. Not friend. There was no one who knew what I was going through. Some knew that I had problems because of what they saw in me but they didn't know why. I don't blame them.. It took me almost 3 decades to get even a little understanding.. Those relationships are now a salvage operation that I hope and pray to be successful with. Let me get back to my WHY.

I found my WHY. Here at the VA. No, I'm not fixed by any stretch of the imagination. Medication has helped with the depression and cleared my mind enough to focus on a purpose.. A mission in Life, you might say. Through all the disfunction of the system, I became able to focus on a goal. Imagine for a moment that you walk through a door. on the other side of that door is a new world of all things are possible. The only thing that can limit you is yourself. You have no pressure from anyone to do or be anything. All the choices are before you. For me, I had to make a choice because turning back was not an option. I needed to find my purpose. My first step was finding out who I AM.

I call myself a Christian. I'm not a religious man but I do know that I have a God. I have Hope and Faith because of my beliefs. My relationship with my Creator has never been what it should be and there have been many times that I have acted as if we had no relationship at all. Because of the many death and near death experiences I've had, I know my God has a plan for me. He could have "called me home" many times but He chose not to. That tells me that I am here for a reason. My Bible says that mans purpose is to glorify God. I've known that for 40yrs but have not devoted my life to it. Yeah, I've helped a few people but glorifying my Creator was like a side note..  Beyond all that is wrong with me, I know, I have good in my heart. I've been a Sheepdog most of my life. Watching out for the flock and addressing the wolf every time.. I will continue because that is part of who I am. But there is more to me than just that. I have a vision of the time I meet my Creator. I will kneel before His thrown and present to Him my crown. In that crown will be all the good that I have done. I think of feathers in my cap. "Well done my good and faithful servant". is what I hope to hear.. As of today, I'm afraid He would say, "You've done some good but you were far below your potential".

That is My WHY. It wasn't a burning bush moment. It wasn't a great voice from the sky. It was something completely normal.. for the first time in over thirty years, no drugs. no alcohol. no plan. no expectations. no court order. no self imposed pressures. no standards to meet. no timeline to beat. I got to know me to the core. and there was more of me that i didn't like than I had ever known.  I question my motivation. Why am I making this choice in life.? I've been learning a lot about myself by questioning my motivation.. by asking Why. The question I asked myself was this... Am i motivated by my fear of hell or the rewards of Heaven??. yeah.. tough question.. Here is what I came up with.. neither.. I don't fear hell. Doesn't matter how horrible you paint that picture, I'm not motivated by fear... Nor am I motivated by the rewards of Heaven. If the rewards of Heaven motivate you to do right then you miss the point that salvation is a gift and it can't be earned. I asked myself, If Heaven were full, would I still strive to glorify God.? My answer is yes.

"The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity; but a wounded spirit who can bear.? -Proverbs 18:14

Now that I have found my WHY... It's time to move on to the WHAT..


Sense my time here I have witnessed a shit ton of problems with the VA system and this location specifically. First off, day one. I was placed in the 90 day Homeless Program after telling them that I was there for PTSD. A 42 day program. It took me 5 weeks of knocking on doors to get set up for a PTSD evaluation and assessment. Each week I was threatened with expulsion from The Homeless Program because I was not concentrating on housing and employment. The laundry list is long but I won't bore you with all the specifics here and now.. You can trust that in the near future all that information will be compiled for dissemination.. Failures in medical care, mental care, program policies and changes.. From a "report card" standard... The care and services I have received in the last two months have been less than failing and border on criminal.


At the nurses station. To see a dr. or nurse or dietitian you are directed to take a seat. No one to check in with as to why you are there. No next in line numbers . Just sit and wait . . Can you imagine a civilian medical practice operating this way..?



Bitching never improved anything... Well, except I did get three tattered flags retired here just by bitching... so let me restate that... "Bitching only improves the little stuff"..
There is a whole lot of big stuff that needs to be fixed.. and we don't have time to doddle. Lives are at stake..
22.5 million Veterans in America
on any given night, 300,000 Veterans are homeless living on the streets or in shelters
250,000 Veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD
Substance abuse among Veterans is beyond measuring...

Stay tuned.. The next article will be "My WHAT plan"

until then,
Peace&Grease.




Sunday, January 10, 2016

To Fight A Hidden Past.

November, 1984.

As the deputy walked me around the courthouse to the jail, I knew my life was fixing to change. This was the fourth time in eleven months I had been handcuffed. Judge Case decided that I needed more guidance in my life. He was so sure of the fact that he signed as a witness when I signed up for the Army's delayed entry program. On 5 Feb, 1985, just over a month after my 17th birthday I reported to Fort Benning, Ga. for basic and advanced training in the Infantry.. There were several reasons that I chose the Infantry. I was a big fan of John Wayne and Audy Murphy... and the Army offered me a $3000 signing bonus. (recruiter lied, I didn't get the money). I was given the choice of first duty station and I chose Fort Lewis, Washington for good reason. Not only was the Pacific Northwest a beautiful area, Ft. Lewis was also home of  The 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and 1st Special Forces Group. I wanted to be the best. Imagine my surprise when I learned that I had joined a COHORT Unit.   (cohesion, operational readiness, training), I would be in the same unit with the same guys I went to basic with. The whole company was going to Ft. Lewis, Together. No chance of Ranger school for me, or any of us for that matter.. Basic and Advanced training took 16 weeks and as the youngest Soldier in the unit, I was Special. Some of that was good. Some of that was bad. Attention is not something that you want in that environment. I was pushed to excel. Pushed to set the standard. "What is the matter with you Private.? Even Wood can do it and he ain't even out of high school yet". I wasn't the Best, but I wanted to be.

Graduation then a couple of days leave to see family and on 2 May,1985 we reported to Ft, Lewis, Wash. 4th Battalion/ 23d Infantry Regiment. 9th Infantry Division. I Corps. Under the command of General Norman Schwarzkopf. A Unit of Distinction. Within 6 months of being on Ft. Lewis, Our Battalion became the 9th Infantry's Quick Reaction Force and I Corps Parade Battalion. The Best "Straight Leg" Infantry Unit in the history of the World. Or so we were told.



 Our unit training was of the intense variety. There was no such thing as "Training Speed". "We don't train like the girls down the road." still rings in my ears. That saying was meant for the 3d/60th just south of us on Libby Ave. To our north was The 2d/75th Ranger Battalion. We shared the same P.T. field and on more than a few occasions we trained with them as their opposing force. I wanted that Ranger Tab so bad I could taste it but it was out of my reach. No individual schools for my unit. "Soldier On" 1st. Sargent Liggett told me that he would guarantee me a slot after I reenlisted... 20yrs old, E-5 with three yrs service would have put me at the top. The only thing left for me to do was to earn the coveted Expert Infantryman Badge, or EIB, is a special skills badge of the United States Army. Although similar in name and appearance to the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), it is a completely different award: while the CIB is awarded to infantrymen for participation in ground combat, the EIB is presented for completion of a course of testing designed to demonstrate proficiency in infantry skills.
The EIB was first created in October 1943. Currently, it is awarded to U.S. Army personnel who hold infantry or special forces military occupational specialties. To be awarded the EIB, the soldier must complete a number of prerequisites and pass a battery of graded tests on Infantry skills.
                              
Our unit, the entire Battalion, was training for the task. We worked. We studied. We trained. Our goal was a 100% pass for the Battalion. Our day had come. As we marched to Watkins Field there was little doubt that We would complete our mission.

We stood in formation before entering the field. "The Bear", General Schwarzkopf, stood before us. With a motivational speech he prepared us to "Achieve Greatness". Then my World changed. A medic approached my company 1st. Sargent. Then the medic approached me. I was to report to Madigan Army medical center. I was crushed. Truth be told, I teared up..I was ready to earn my Award..
 I had been having some problems with my feet from all the training and I'd had some tests done at the Med Center the week before.. Feet problems were common in our unit so i didn't think it was a big deal. I was just gonna push through the P.T test, forced road march and land navigation coarse like I always had. In 48hrs, I would have my EIB. I had no idea that my life and dream was about to change. I sat before the desk of a Lieutenant Colonel, looking at x-rays and MRI film I was informed that my military career was over. He pointed out that my arches had collapsed and there were stress fractures in both of my achilles tendons.. I was being put on a permanent profile. No running, no marching. That is a death sentence to an Infantryman. I went to a medical review board a few days later to plead my case. Luckily my Command Sargent Major was on the review board. He had my back but it was no use. The boards findings were By The Book. Because of the permanent medical profile I was barred from reenlistment, Because it was my first enlistment, I couldn't be reclassified into another MOS. I was granted 10% disability and told to have a nice day... My Sargent Major told me to meet him at his office. We talked as Men and he asked me, "What do you want to do?" "Top, my career in your Army is over. Its time for me to go to the house". He agreed and called my Company Commander. It took me two days to turn in my gear and clear post. From parade field to civilian in 5 days.5 May, 1988. I was devastated.. After my Honorable discharge I was placed on "inactive Reserve status". for 4 more years.. That time would expire in 1990. Then I got a letter in the mail. Certified. Department of the Army. I was to report to my closest military installation for inprossessing. I was being called up for the Gulf War under the command of "Stormin Norman". When I reported to Fort Lewis I was told that I would not be needed because of my Medical condition. Only those who have prepared for battle understand.the gravity. I was no longer needed. I would watch My war on CNN.

Part of being with a unit for 3 yrs is the bond that men build. That was the Army's plan. To say w knew each other would be an understatement. We knew Everything about each other,, including their sisters names. Private Applegate invited me to join his family for Thanksgiving 85 but I had chosen to take Christmas leave instead. How was I to know that my decision would bar me from having dinner with the future Miss. Kelly Bundy, his cousin, Christina Applegate. I could have ate a grenade when he showed me the pictures on his return from leave..One of the men I served with was a guy from north Georgia named Edward Simms. He would get red faced every time I saw him. As a true Southerner, he took a playful offence to me calling him a Damn Yankee..Being Born in Jeff Davis County, Ga. gave me that right. Everybody knows that anybody north of I-16 is a Damn Yank.We pushed on together, peeled a truck load of taters in a desert and did enough pushups to move Georgia half way to Hell. He was the Best man at my first wedding..


  

Back before cell phones and the internet, it was difficult to keep in touch or find lost friends. All I had to go on was his name, years of service and that his folks lived in north Georgia. Every time I would ride through North Ga. I would stop and call all the Simms's listed in the local phonebook, to no avail. Then one day, 17yrs later, I made another call. "Hello." "Crusty, What are you doin?" "Woody, I was just sitting here thinking about you." Three days later he's sitting on my couch in Tennessee. Some bonds can never be broken. We reminisced about the Him's and Her's of our time. The horrible food. The 25mile forced road marches and the painting of rocks. Our times in the Yakama desert and Fort Ord, California. We talked about Klahn and Mabry, Dean and Pratt, Sgt,.Mefford, and his wife. we hashed it all. His memory was far better than mine. We had spent three years together becoming The Razors Edge. We had plenty to talk about. "Why did you beat that guy up that one night when you were on CQ?". (Charge of Quarters) I hadn't thought about that fight in 17years but the memory came back as clear as if it was happening now.

"Smith" (not his real name) was a big guy from out in Kansas. He was a good Soldier. As good as anyone of us.. It was a weekend in the Barracks and I was riding the desk all night. The boys were hooping it up in the day room with a couple of gals from town and a bunch of beer. I had told them for the last time to keep the beers off the snooker table. I was the asshole. It was snowing which was odd for Ft. Lewis. The snow falling down in the barracks quad had a peaceful tone to it.. As the snow and empty beer cans accumulated the night took a drastic change... In a rush, around ten guys came rushing past my desk. The mood was jovial as there was now enough snow for them to play in. "Smith" was drunk. Not falling down drunk but he was slurring his words a bit.. He was hollering about "Let's have a snowball fight". He was excited about it, jumping up and down with excitement.. Then he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me from my desk chair. Pulling me out the door.. I snapped. I beat that man severely. I might well have done permanent damage had I not been pulled off of him by the rest of the guys.. He was taken to the Barracks aide station and the event was covered up. It was never spoken of again.. I felt remorse. I grieved about it. That behavior was not me. I had never lost my cool in such a way. I couldn't reconcile my behavior. That singular event began to haunt my thoughts. 17 years after the fact. I needed to know the why's of what I had done. Primal instinct kicks in when you are confronted with a threat. This was not a threat. It was a snowball fight. Why had I gone straight to "Battle frenzy" with this guy.? Bezerk was my mindset and vengeance was my goal. But I had no understanding of why. I had blocked the past from my mind.. It took me eight long years to get back to that moment that shaped me..

It was March, 1986. I remember because something I believed as odd happened.. sitting in a foxhole in the Yakima desert, My sergeant approaches from our rear and chews my ass because "His only mission in this shithole was to bring me my mail". (in 1983 when Mt. St. Helens erupted the state of Washington had spread all the volcanic ash that they had collected from the roadways in the Yakima Desert, It was truly a shithole). I had received a letter from my High-school guidance consular, Mrs. Pat Porter.. In the envelope was an invitation  to me High-school class graduation. I had been in the Army for 13 months and a lifetime from my classmates.. When our training cycle was complete, Our unit headed back to Ft. Lewis. The time in garrison was used to clean and inspect equipment, re-enter society and get some much needed R&R. It had always been that way but this time was different. There was a buzz about the Fort.. Tensions were high as a developing situation was evolving in Libya. After a couple of days in Garrison we were put on alert and 24hrs later our Battalion was activated to respond. As the Quick Reaction Force for the 9th Infantry Division, we had trained to be Unit mobile in 36hrs..  We had trained for all scenario's, Plane, Train or Ship. What we had not trained for was the quick turn around. Our Unit was in pieces for cleaning and inspections. We had tents in the quad that were still air drying. Trucks in the Motor pool were torn apart for service and men were scattered everywhere spending some downtime with family and friends. Plus 30hrs we were at McCord AFB loading onto C-5A galaxies in route to Libya. Tensions were high but we had trained hard for this scenario.

Our first stop en route was Tinker AFB, Okla. We found it odd that we had to remove all of our equipment from the planes. The C-5A's could have easily taken us all the way to Libya. We spent the next three days in an empty airplane hanger with the only information that the weather had us grounded.. Understand that in 1986 nobody had a cell phone or any way to check the news. No radio. No television. We played cards and did pushups. We ate MRE's and 20yr old C-Rations. We cleaned what gear we could and waited for news and direction... That direction finally came... GET ON THE BUS..

What the fuck.? Are we going into combat on a big yellow bus.? Thats when we realized that we were not going to Libya. We would not see combat.. Someone with a Star on his shoulder had lied to our whole Battalion.. This was a Readiness Training Exercise. We were taken by school bus to Ft. Chaffee, Ark. for a two week field training exercise. Unit moral was as low as it could go.. Too many mind games had been played out. Some guys had spent less than a day off in over a month of training and were now looking at two more weeks without Glory.. We, E-4 and below who had spent the last 14 months together, collectively decided that we would push this exercise to the limit. Each man would give it 100%. We were tired of The Testing. We were going to prove our worth..

Foxholes. Fields of Fire. Overhead cover, Probing Patrols. We had a mission. We were to seek out, engage and destroy the enemy. Part of our unit had been split off to act as our opposing force. It didn't take leadership long to realize that the unit was operating well above the level of Training Speed. Captives were hogtied and gagged. Some of the men took the training too far. The level of intensity was beyond extreme..

Dark of night. Two men to a foxhole. A runner comes behind us to let us know that the enemy is approaching.. Our trip wires send up parachute flares. The land and sky in front of us is illuminated and we can see the enemy coming.. my hole has 4 claymores set and we are banging the clackers to detonate.. flashbangs are going off all around us... Our enemy has removed all of their "Miles gear" (think laser tag on steroids) we can't kill them.. We are being over run. The guy in the hole with me bugs out the back and is running towards our Command Post in the rear.. I see the fire in his eyes as "Smith" dives into my foxhole on top of me.. He is crazy. punching and kicking. I see the butt of his AK-47, then the lights go out...

The next thing I remembered was the explosion in my head. It was quiet now but at first, i thought i was deaf. The pain in my head had me completely disoriented.. What happened.? Where is everybody.? Did that really just fuckin happen..? I felt the crease and dent in my steel pot helmet with my hands. I had been knocked out with a rifle butt to the head.. It was still dark and i was disoriented. I made my way back to the CP where an after-action review was in progress.. I had been killed in battle. I felt shame. There was only one man who knew what had happened. It was never spoken of again. That memory was repressed for 17yrs and then another 8yrs to dig deep enough to remember.. for the last 4 years I've carried that memory without understanding its meaning. Until two weeks ago when I spoke, openly to my therapist.

I have known men who have experienced worse and those who have done worse. Men who have seen the truth of battle. My story does in no way compare to what those men have been through. I hold them with the highest esteem. I write my story as therapy for myself and anyone who can gather some knowledge or understanding.. Through the process of remembering and spending time with my therapist, I've come to understand some of how this has effected my life. An event that happened when I was 18yrs old has had a lasting impression. 
Abandonment. Fear, Vigilance, self worth, trust, hopelessness, depression. Using drugs and alcohol to cope. These are just some of the stones that I have carried without any understanding of why..  

I do not seek your sympathy, but, I would ask you for a measure of understanding. Not just for me, but for all that fight a hidden past. 


 Peace&Grease








Monday, November 30, 2015

Just my opinion.






o·pin·ion
[əˈpinyən]

NOUN

  1. a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge: Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press  



. You have heard it all before.. "Opinions are like assholes. Everybody's got one".  "You ain't smart enough to have an opinion". and a favorite of mine from Drill Sargent Burlington. "Soldier, If the Army wanted you to have an opinion they would issue you one".

We are slapped in the face every day with a barrage of opinions from every corner. Yes, It is someones opinion that you SHOULD take your family to Olive Garden and yer not a good person if you don't. Advertising is just an opinion. Marketing is a tool to push an agenda. Im not picking on Olive Garden. Im calling them all out.. We are marketed to in the hope that we would be swayed to increase their profits... I get that. I've been on both sides, as a consumer and as an advertiser. But its just an opinion. Not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.. Think about how many times the car manufacturers have told you that without "Their" product you aren't living up to your potential. YOU DESERVE,,,, that new truck.. Thats just their opinion. and this is just mine. They are motivated by profit.

Everyone has an opinion. but there was a time before social media when most of us kept our opinions to our selves.. Through the magic of facebook we can get the opinions of everyone. This past week a woman ductaped a dogs muzzle. Why.? I have no earthly idea. not something I would do but thats not my point.. my point is this, A gadzillion people took the time to give their opinion about it. So many gave an opinion about it that it became a global news story. I guess that everyone in the world now knows that this is unacceptable behavior. The South Daytona Police Dept. was so overwhelmed with calls and emails that it effected the level of service that they could provide. (side note. She doesnt live in South Daytona). A stupid mistake that has put her under the microscope of scrutiny. I hope she is strong enough to weather the storm. I don't know her. I wouldn't wish that on anyone. People concentrated on the dogs well being and gave no consideration to the human life that they were berating. one comment was, "she should be beat". well who the fuck are you to pass judgement.and promote a punishment? What kind of human are you.? You are common unfortunately. and then you continued scrolling.

Brown and her dog (in another Facebook picture) before Brown duct-taped the pooch's mouth

We have entered a time where everyone on this planet thinks that they have a news studio.
on their laptop and an audience that they wish to inform the masses.
We have broadcast capabilities. some push for a bigger audience and some achieve that 
goal. The part that is missing is the integrity of the broadcast. Checking facts and sources of 
information. Yes. when you share a link you are saying, "This is what I believe". Yes, there is
room for humor and satire but to desimenate false information is morally wrong.. We are 
creating a monster. The character of the beast is this. "I don't know who can be trusted 
anymore". 
PHOTO: Robert Lewis Dear of North Carolina is seen in these undated photos provided by the El Paso County Sheriffs Office.
And then there is this guy...
killed three, wounded nine. Why.? "No more baby parts"... thats what he was quoted as 
saying.. Here is my version of the story.
HEADLINES. 
Three killed, Nine injured by crazed gunman.
A man born in America, who looks crazy, did some crazy shit.. After watching a Fox news 
story about Planned Parenthood being funded by the US government and selling baby 
body parts, this dude goes berserk. He drives 65miles from his home and opens fire on
a health clinic. He is quoted as saying, "no more baby parts". we also report that he enjoys 
freaky sex.. now to the weather..
WTF.?
I'm not saying what he did was right, far from it.. 
He believed Fox News and acted upon the news..
A few points to consider..
why is the federal government involved in supporting any social services? its a state issue 
that should be voted on by the people. If the people in your state don't agree with your 
opinions, you can move.. We are United States. Not identical states.
Is Planned Parenthood really selling body parts.? If so, Fox news should be showing video
of PP"s board of directors being hauled off in chains. I'm pretty sure that selling body parts
is illegal. 
can we actually trust that the news is truth and not just some corporate opinion.? 
there are 6  corporations that control almost all of the media..

here are a few headlines I've read today.. and I have no clue whether they are true or not.
you tell me.. 

California signs Law allowing Illegals to vote.
Marine Veteran tries to escape cold, wind and rain but Walmart refuses to let him in.
Man loses lawsuit claiming BMW motorcycle gave him an extended erection. 

 
    OPINION might be harmful to others.. Opinions are not necessarily based on
 facts or knowledge.
 Be kind to one another


until we meet again.
Peace&Grease