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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.