Gun-Crazed America

I’ve been thinking about this topic for weeks. Well, actually, that’s a lie. I’ve been thinking about this topic ever since the Ferguson situation went down. I’m not taking a particular side on that; mainly because I don’t have a side to take. I do, however have an opinion about Ferguson.

I can sympathize with the emotional trauma that a community might be feeling after one of their own is gunned down. I feel similar grief having been to combat and losing friends in the war. Although, the two don’t really go hand-in-hand. I do feel like there are some similarities between the two. Violence is apart of our American culture. Violence is apart of our very existence. From the beginning of time.

America, specifically, has this obsessed attitude that everyone should have a gun. And not just one gun. Many guns. Our favorite video games are first-person shooters. Our favorite actors are gun-totting mad men blowing up buildings and mowing down countless third rate rent-a-thugs. Children grow up playing with toy guns and then their parents buy them a BB gun when they turn 13 and a hunting rifle when they turn 18 and then they go get their concealed weapons permit as soon as they turn 21 because they can. For no other reason other than because they can. Or want to. It’s an obsession.

I want you to understand something, though. This isn’t some liberal rant against guns. I’m sure by now most of you are rolling your eyes thinking that very thought. This is going to be an educational, informative piece and probably the longest blog entry I’ll ever write. Please. Indulge yourself and read on.

The Bill of Rights state, and I quote, “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

Over time there have been laws that dictate and regulate who actually gets to carry a firearm. This done so in a manner as to not to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. For example: if you commit a strong-armed robbery with a firearm and the police catch up with you, you will no longer be able to carry a firearm. These laws are implemented for the greater good of society because we don’t want unhealthy people carrying weapons that can harm others. I think we can all agree on that.

One thing I’m truly against are law-makers making up laws that make absolutely no sense. I’m also against police agencies trying to govern my life and I’m really against big government trying to tell me what I can and can not do. There is no such thing as gun sense in this country because everyone wants a gun and no one wants to take responsibility when something bad happens with it. So the governments answer to that is to make up laws that really don’t extinguish the problem. What we need is firearm education and firearm training.

Example Number One: You want a firearm for home defense. That means you’ll be engaging potential targets at close range, close quarters with little to no visibility. What is your training regime for that? Do you know the laws concerning firearms and defending yourself, family and personal property? Are you a Castle Doctrine state? Are you a Stand Your Ground state? Do you even know what those things are? When’s the last time you cleaned your firearm and when’s the last time you went to a shooting range? Lastly, someone breaks into your house at 2am, you’re woken up from a dead sleep. How fast can you gain your bearings and get to your firearm before something goes down? Do you keep your firearms in a safe with a combo lock or key to keep the kids out? Would you be able to open the safe up in time? Do you train to these scenarios? If not, you have no business owning a firearm to protect your house hold. Stick to a baseball bat.

Example Number Two: You are going grocery shopping and someone comes in to the grocery store with a gun to rob the cashier. You have a concealed weapons permit and you have your 9mm strapped to your side. Consider your options: do nothing or attempt to defuse the situation. Without proper training, your best bet is to call 911 and stay out of the way.

I’m not in any way trying to tell people not to own firearms or that firearms only belong in the hands of cops and members of the Armed Forces. All I’m trying to point out is that America looks at firearms as a type of novelty and people buy guns without any real form of education or training. Guns get into the wrong hands. Kids get them and shoot other kids. Teenagers bring them to school and kill other students. There are plenty of reasons (and valid ones) to strengthen our gun laws. The most important thing, though, is education and training. If you own a firearm and you think you might become a victim of a violent crime one day, get some formal training. Talk with a lawyer about your states gun laws. Know your capabilities and know your limitations.

This isn’t Hollywood and you aren’t Bruce Willis. A guy breaks into your house, you won’t be able to just shoot his leg out and that be the end of your nightmare. Make sure you understand the judicial system, understand that you aren’t safe from civil lawsuits and have a clear understanding that once you decide to pull that trigger, there is no turning back.

Veterans Day

I wish I could write up a piece and have it go viral like what I wrote about it my latest entry.

I’m not interested in being in the spotlight when it comes to Veterans Day. Hell, I don’t even really ask for this day off from work. I’m hoping my employers will simply identify me as a Veteran and schedule me off out of courtesy. Not because I feel like I’m entitled to this day off from work or because I feel like I’ve earned this day off. It’s simply because I don’t want to be apart of what America has turned into: a capitalistic fat pig.

Every retailer in the United States has some kind of “Veterans Day sale” going on. Whether it’s today or last weekend, they have something happening. People head out in droves to spend money on today’s sale instead of just staying at home and remembering the ones who have given up their lives during combat operations. Veteran’s Day isn’t about you or me. It’s about them. The ones who have given the ultimate sacrifice. The ones who never returned home from duty. The ones who have left children and wives and close relatives behind. The ones who now reside on Fiddler’s Green.

I’m not a veteran because I want a free coffee from Starbucks or a free meal from Applebees. I’m a veteran because I felt like serving. Not for hand shakes and “thank yous” or for prestigious medals and awards. I served to serve. Nothing more, nothing less.

Today is not a celebration but a day of remembrance. It is not “happy Veterans Day” because there is nothing happy about going to war and watching your friends get killed in combat.

Stop Thanking Service Members for their Service

“Rather than writing off the decision to serve with a sterile “thank you for your service” this year, own the sentiment and make it personal.

Thank a veteran that you knew you would be present for the birth of all your children.

Thank a veteran that you have pursued your educational goals safely and uninterrupted.

Thank a veteran that your biggest stress is not getting your training ride, workout, spin class, yoga, pilates, or run in for the day.

Thank a veteran that you can sit home nights and write.

Thank a veteran that you have pursued a successful professional career and living the high life.

Thank a veteran that you have the security to be a stay at home parent.

Thank a veteran that you have chosen to make your home close to your, or far form your family, close to the ocean or deep in the mountain… but you choose it.

Thank a veteran that you were able to attend every one of your child’s sporting events, music recitals, spelling bees and parent-teacher conferences.

Thank a veteran that your spouse or partner comes home predictably every day.

Thank a veteran that you have your weekends free.

Thank a veteran that you pursued your passion as an actor, professional athlete, model, musician, or under water basket weaver.

 

Thank a veteran that you don’t have to be one.”

Dog on a Leash

“I see it coming, I’m supposed to follow
No, I don’t even want to hold the chain
If this is really what it’s like to let go
It was all in my brain..
There’s something living in the house tomorrow
’cause you don’t even wanna hold their face
Would it be of I refused to let go
It was all in my way!

I see it coming, it’s so hard to swallow
Cause I don’t even want to help the chase
Too hard to sleep if you can hear the echo
Hear it calling my name…
Now I’ve been searching in a love so shallow
Never even wanna have the blame
If this is really what it’s like to let go
Was it all in my way?!

It’s you and it’s me
Dog on a leash

I’m like a dog on a leash
No one in life, I feel it holding on
I’m like a dog on a leash
No one will stop you savin’ my soul
I’m like a dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash

Is there a reason that you hold the solo now
You don’t even wanna help us stay
I wouldn’t be if I could learn to let go
Would it all be the same!

It’s you and it’s me
Dog on a leash

I’m like a dog on a leash
No one in life, I feel it holding on
I’m like a dog on a leash
No one will stop you savin’ my soul
I’m like a dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash
Dog on a leash

It’s you and it’s me, the dogs on a leash
And I can’t be fine like that
It’s you and it’s me, the dogs on a leash

I’m like a dog on a leash
No one in life, I feel it holding on
I feel like a dog on a leash
No one will stop you saving my soul
I’m like a dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash
It’s you and it’s me
Killing the dream
Dog on a leash.”

I had such a shitty day at work yesterday. I walked into work and my work items had been moved. One thing I’ve learned with PTSD (that a lot don’t ever understand) is Combat Vets aren’t “moody” or “just mad” or mad at any one individual. Our minds are so cluttered with filth and garbage that we lose focus of ourselves in the moment.

Small things that generally wouldn’t irritate the common man now hold us like we are on a leash. Something small happens and it literally ruins our entire day. Someone moved my coffee cup or moved my note pad. It literally drives me to the brink. Could you imagine living your day to day life like that? When I get to work, what will get at me today?

I find myself needing that extra time to cool down because in the civilian sector, believe it or not, we can not treat our co-workers like a stupid Army Private. We can’t call them “shitbirds” or anything like that like we did in the Army. We can’t yell and scream and vent our frustration out on the platoon and have everyone doing front-back-goes for an hour. It just doesn’t work that way.

Life goes on, though, doesn’t it? Life continues and we continue with our own demons.

Oyster Run 2014

I missed last years Oyster Run because I had to work and because I really didn’t have anyone to run with. The year before last, I went and it was amazing. I loved every minute of it.

This years Oyster Run was more of the same but I went with a friend of mine and saw many good people I used to hang with while they were in the CVMA.

Here’s a video of the long line of bikes trying to get parked as we walked around. It was pretty awesome.  There was even the 12th Man Seahawks flag flying proudly as we walked into Main street:

IMG_0387

The amount of motorcycles that show up for this every year, (rain or shine) is just uncanny. It’s literally miles and miles of motorcycles. They take over all the parking at Safeway, they park down alley ways, in peoples’ drive ways, on the sidewalk… it truly is the best thing I’ve ever experienced while owning a motorcycle.

It’s kind of amazing, too, considering it was just one guy 33 years ago that started this whole thing. Him and a few pals met up for beers in Marysville after a long season of fishing in Alaska and eventually they moved to Anacortes because so many people were showing up. Soon, there were 20,000 followers. This year, it looked like it easily surpassed 35,000 bikes. It was crazy.

I met up with some friends and we talked about things, this and that. Not too exciting but I love my old pals from the CVMA. They’ve moved on to bigger and better things, (in which one day maybe I’ll follow down their path) and it’s always good to see them.

Good friends are hard to come by. People generally have their own agenda’s and you really have to try hard to keep the good ones around. In the end, to me, it’s worth it, though. I’ve had lots of good buddies I would chum around with but never any lasting relationships. I know a lot of people, some I keep in contact with and others I just see on the Facebook or whatever. Truly, some of these relationships I’ve built since I’ve been out of the service, I’d really like to keep. It’s hard being out of the Army and not having a barracks full of friends you can always count on to be there when you need a friend.

It’s really hard some times not to just quit my job, slap on a “nomad” patch on my motorcycle vest and just cruise America looking for my path. I know things aren’t forever but we like who we like and we love who we love. Even though we may not receive the same kind of mutual feelings in return, we don’t know what we don’t know, right?

Anyway. Until next years Oyster Run, I’ll just be cruising around in the rain for the rest of the year. Washington State is good to me like that.

The Wrong Side of Heaven

 

I heard this song on SiriusXM on my way to work the other day and wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. This morning I got on Youtube and saw the video for the song and decided to watch it.

It made me angry. I thought back on my time in Iraq and the handful of my battles buddies whom I lost during my deployment from 2005 to 2006.

I’ve been loosely following what’s been going on in Iraq for the past few weeks and when the whole ISIS thing initially started, a lot of my fellow Army comrades were posting things on Facebook that they were upset that things were escalating in the Middle East. I felt like chiming in with my liberal talking points and my “open your eyes and wake up” mentality but I decided to give it a rest and delete my Facebook account instead.

I recently saw on Facebook (yes, I reactivated my account this morning) that an interpreter from Iraq was calling ISIS “towel heads” and “Muslim pigs” because of what they’re doing in Iraq. My opinion on this is; it was just a matter of time after the United States military disengaged from Iraq that a group like this would form and take over the middle east. ISIS has always been in Iraq. They’re the Sunni tribe that was once the majority under Saddamn Hussein. Once the U.S invaded (in 2003) and we pushed the Sunni tribe out to allow the Kurdish and the Shia tribes to prosper, it created a heavy imbalance in the Iraqi economy. And once Hussein was ousted out of position, the problem escalated. The Iraqi army fell apart which left over 250,000 people out of work. No jobs, equals no money, equals desperate times, equals heavy recruiting for Al Qaeda and so on and so forth.

The United States occupied Iraq for ten plus years and we fought an insurgency that we created. It’s not like we got to Iraq and they were already there. If you talk to any Veteran who was apart of the invasion, they will tell you that they rolled around in soft door Humvees for a lot of their deployments. It wasn’t until 2004-2005 and on that things started to get hairy. Of course, there was ample push-back during the invasion, which makes sense, because what country would allow another country to just roll in with tanks and soldiers without fighting back? Things have gotten so bad in Iraq now that President Obama has issued bombings on high ISIS targets. That’s kind of how things got started under former President Bush.

This video really puts things into perspective for me since I’m an Army veteran. The problem is that we are a nation of consumers. As Americans, we hold ourselves very high on a pedestal. We are prideful and want to be the best in everything including having the biggest and baddest military in the world. Unfortunately, having the biggest military means we have to spend a lot of money on that. And when we take our military to war, especially with soldiers on the ground, that leads to having to take care of those soldiers once they are out of country and back in the States. Furthermore, even after those soldiers leave the military, we still must take care of them. It’s incredibly expensive and with the amount of money the government tries to cut every year and the amount of money that people don’t want to pay in taxes and the amount of money the top 1% of this country makes, it’s no wonder we don’t have the resources to tend to our veterans.

Former President Bush and Dick Cheney (among others) who made out like bandits over profiting on this Iraqi/Afghanistan war make me literally sick to my stomach. If you didn’t know, Dick Cheney used to be the CEO of Haliburton who, at the time, was Vice President of the United States. He gave no bid contracts to Haliburton during the Iraq war. Which, in turn, made him filthy rich. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.

If you have some time, I urge you to watch some documentaries that you may or may not have already seen:

Losing Iraq

Iraq for Sale

Donald Rumsfeld trailer

 

These documentaries might anger you or inspire you or you might totally disregard them. They make me angry because our political leaders used our military to become rich and profit off of our men and women who went to war for this nation because we thought we were doing what was best for America.

We were all sadly mistaken. And if you go back to the stats posted in the music video, that’s the price we are paying. It’s not the price America is paying because lets face it; only 1% of America’s population actually served in the United States military. It’s the price our veterans are paying. I have yet to hear any military veteran from the Iraq/Afghanistan war claim that they made millions of dollars like Bush and Co. did. Unjust, immoral and unfair are the words that immediately come to my mind.

460,000 veterans have PTSD from combat. Those numbers are staggering. Veterans are committing suicide every day, are homeless, on food stamps, welfare and unemployment. Thousands of veterans are a lay off away from being on the streets. And it makes sense. Americans are greedy, selfish, fat and lazy. We rank 36th in education. We have the highest obesity in the world. Our youth is more concerned about Justin Beiber’s social life and where they rank in sports then anything else. Social media has typically made everyone extremely anti-social and zombie-like it makes me sick. People can’t put their iPhones down for 30 seconds to carry on a lasting, intelligent conversation with each other. It seems if anyone has anything to say anymore, just check their Facebook account to see their latest rant about work, school or co-workers. But I digress.

If the United States of America decides to re-engage Iraq because of this ISIS bullsh*t, I hope everyone who supports that decision goes down to the nearest military recruiting office and signs up for a three year tour (infantry) and picks their duty station as “Iraq”. You people who have never served but wave your stupid little American flag (made in China) and wear your cheap clothing bought at Wal-mart (made in Indonesian) and drive your Toyota (parts assembled in Germany) to work every day claiming your patriotic and this and that- I hope you sign up for the military and actually show your patriotism. You can claim you have the right to this and that and blah, blah, blah.

Well, I leave you with this quote- “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”

 

This blog entry is dedicated to those who served and lost their lives during all combat operations. You all served your country bravely and valiantly and for that, I thank every last one of you. We are our brothers keepers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Political Bullsh*t

“This generation is so entitled.”

“This generation just wants hand outs.”

“This generation thinks everyone else should pay their way.”

“This generation is so lazy and unmotivated.”

I’m not trying to defend something I have no idea what I’m talking about. I’m also not trying to come up with wild allegations towards a group of people from what I see from a select few.

“This generation” has quite the stigma places on them in America. As do welfare recipients, black people, Mexicans and poor people. Rarely, do we find anyone in this country ridiculing the extreme rich or politicians.

Since this whole $15 dollar minimum wage battle that’s been surfacing in America, it’s been wildly concluded that spoiled, booger picking, lazy teenagers are the ones who’re going to benefit the most from a minimum wage hike. That these so-called entitled kids of this generation are simply asking for handouts and aren’t exactly working hard for their money or success.

I call bullshit. If it’s just the teenagers in well-to-do neighborhoods and families, who’re are spoiled and simply asking for someone else to get them through life, why in the world would they be slaving away at places like Taco Bell, McDonalds and Burger King flipping burgers? If that’s their aspirations in life (to be a full-time burger flipper in the back of some greasy McDonalds) then the problem is a lot worse than I thought it was.

First of all, since 2007 (when the economy took a nose-dive under the Bush administration) jobs have been at an all time low. The job market (and wages for that matter) are not thriving like they used to. 40 years ago you could get hired, join a union and thrive making $20 dollars an hour with benefits. It took only one member of the family to bring home the bacon, so to speak, while the other slaved away raising the kids and tending to the house. Now it literally takes two working parents to keep the lights on in the house and food in their children’s’ bellies. I have never seen people in my entire life slave away at their jobs more so then I have in this day in age. It’s sad, sickening and pathetic.

Let me tell you what it’s like to be an Army combat veteran in the civilian workforce. And I bet most of you can relate and the sad part is, I possess skill sets that most civilians do not. Not a dig; just the facts.

When I got out of the service after ten years, I was able to pick up this sh*tty job in retail security making about $10 dollars an hour. It wasn’t even full-time work. I practically begged for hours. I attempted to go to college in the mean time but I’m one of those educationally inept people that can’t stand listening to an instructor drone on about sh*t I don’t care about. Honestly, history was my passion- and sadly what will majoring in history do for me except make me really smart about history..?

I took a second job (full-time) as security in a casino. So between both jobs I was averaging about 60 hours a week. I’ve heard everything from, “wow, you must just be raking cash” to “I’m really sorry you have to work that hard for practically a kick in the nuts.” No, I was not “raking” cash as some would put it. I was barely clearing $20,000 a year. If that. And to be completely honest about uniformed (and un-uniformed) security jobs, they are basically glorified wanna-be police jobs. Being heckled and degraded daily by drug abusers, drunks and trashy women is probably the second worst thing about those jobs. Not being able to punch those people in the face without it coming back on you is the first worst thing about those jobs. But I took the abuse because it was work and I was (and I can’t believe I’m about to say this)  just glad I was employed.

It wasn’t until the following year that my VA benefits finally dropped. I waited patiently for roughly 20 months for some kind of outcome to all my problems that were dealt to my body while I was in service. From Patellofemoral syndrome in both knees to PTSD symptoms, night terrors, anxiety, depression, anti-social behavior..and the list goes on and on. The VA finally contacted me and gave decided to give me a check every month to help combat these issues. Plus, I get to visit the VA any time I want for whatever reason and I get to see a therapist every month.

After living in my car for nearly a year, I could finally get my own studio apartment. My VA check helped me financially. I quit both jobs and hired onto a different company (whom I still work for) and they give me lots and lots of overtime including other fringe benefits throughout the year like holiday pay, mileage and parking reimbursement in case I ever have to pay to park. Also, I get a 401k and benefits. Rarely do I get heckled as much by drug abusers, drunks and trashy women anymore. So that’s a plus.

That all seems really great and I’m very appreciative of the opportunities set forth before me and believe me; I’ve taken full advantage of it all. I’ve built my resume up and have really grown as a person. The sad part is this; if my VA benefits were to vanish, I’d be right back where I started from when I first got out. I’d be making more money, of course, but I wouldn’t be able to afford my apartment. And it’s not like I went out and bought the most expensive apartment out there. I got the cheapest, yet safest one I could find in a good community and I bank about 60% of my VA check every month. Truth is, these jobs today could pay more and will still do very well for themselves. We are all in this rat race together and what really upsets me is how this country defends the rich so much.

I’m not trying to get rich and I won’t die trying. I’m trying to afford a comfortable life that is fair. I’d like a few weeks of vacation time a year, solid benefits, good pay and a sound work environment. We spend a good portion of our lives at work, why not making it enjoyable? Why not making it worth our while? If you feel under paid and under appreciated at work, you probably are. Stop being a sheep and dig for what you’re really worth.

http://youtu.be/CHh9YSwZR0U