July Four

 

I spent July 4th this year in Romania and the year before that I spent it at work. I felt a little relief by being out of the country this year for it even though I really couldn’t escape the holiday. In Bucharest, they flew extra Romanian flags in honor of the Fourth of July.

I was asked what I thought of the particular holiday and I gave my honest response as always: “It’s a well developed commercialized long weekend for a lot of people. It’s all about camping, BBQing, fireworks and extra discount sales at retail stores. For a lot of people who have to work, it means getting up earlier for work or having to stay late resulting in lack of sleep or not being able to partake in the festivities.” And if you complain about it, the typical American response is “find a different job”.

Fireworks can be heard from about the middle of June to about a week after the actual holiday. It’s annoying. It’s obnoxious. The way I see things is: the Fourth of July has lost it’s meaning. No one really celebrates what they’re really supposed to be celebrating. And when you get down to the actual nuts and bolts of America, would you really want to celebrate that? People want to be patriotic and claim they love America and say that America is the greatest country in the entire world. I beg to differ.

I travel a lot. I’ve been to just about every major city in America and I’ve traveled to many countries abroad. I’ve been to combat, I’ve seen countries and cities that any normal person probably wouldn’t add to their bucket list of places to see. With all the places I’ve seen, I can already tell you that America isn’t the greatest. There are great things about America just like there are great things about other countries that make them great too. I’ll give you an example. I traveled to Romania recently and I experienced a country with little to no crime. Of course, when you get closer to the big cities like Bucharest, the crime rate increases, naturally. Just like here in America. But America has a huge crime problem. Every time I turn on the news or look at social media, there’s a murder, a rape, there’s drug use to epidemic proportions. When I worked in downtown Seattle, I saw hypodermic needles on just about every street corner. Either there’s a lot of diabetics running around dropping needles or there’s a serious problem with drugs.

In Japan I saw one homeless person. One. Granted, I was only there 12 days and secluded myself to the metropolitan area of Tokyo so maybe if I ventured out further I would have seen more. I can walk to the nearest city closest to my house and count ten homeless people right now. What’s so great about that? We have major schools closing down due to lack of budgeting and crooked politicians who lie and cheat their way into office and take our nation to a $7 trillion dollar war for 14 years based on lies and deceit. They spoon feed Americans this crap and we, as a nation, buy into it. I’m ranting, I know. But do you see my point? If America is so great why do we have people like Donald Trump running for president? Why isn’t Hillary Clinton facing some sort of criminal charges? Why are our schools closing and education suffering? Why do we put sports and Keeping up with the Kardashians as our top priorities over knowing the ingredients in our food and making sure corporations, money and greed don’t run this country? We are the people and the government should fear us! But they don’t because we are a nation of sheep.

The fourth of July is good for foreign countries because we buy all our commerce goods like those little plastic American flags from China. What’s patriotic about waving a little plastic American flag that’s manufactured in China? Why aren’t WE, as a nation, providing for ourselves and having solid trade relations with OUR goods to other countries? We have a lot of Toyotas driving around America. But does Japan have a lot of Fords and Chevrolets driving around their country? We allow our goods to be manufactured in other countries for cheaper labor so we have cheaper prices. Is that the end all to it? We stomp on other Americans, ship their jobs overseas and applaud when we get a good deal on a car? It’s disgusting to me. But we let them do it to us.

I don’t celebrate the Fourth of July anymore. I haven’t for years. As long as Americans continue to post pictures of their barbequed hamburgers and cheap (who knows what’s in it) hotdogs on Instagram and Twitter, and laughing and happy they’re getting “extra time off from work” instead of taking some time and thinking back on what this country was actually founded on…

The public school system does a great job of glorifying America. I spent some time in college and experienced some history lessons that some times I’d like to forget. But that’s what really happened. I encourage all to take some college history classes and find out the truth. But I digress.

In the end, what does it matter. People will always be people and we all will continue to live in our selfish, self-indulged bubble.

 

Memorial Day Weekend

I feel like every Memorial Day weekend is based on sales, BBQ-ing and long weekends for people to travel and do whatever.

Recently I attended a Veterans Memorial and the elected officials that attended made a very remarkable statement. The statement, which by the way I can not recall word for word, really hit home. It surrounded around the idea that Veterans in this nation have sort of been pushed to the way side. We name our streets and plants trees for Veterans and have Veterans Day and Memorial Day and all these special dates, times and events, but all I see on social media are “Memorial Day Sale” and “Veterans Day Sale” and barbeques on sale and travel times, etc.

I hope Veterans aren’t forgotten. I hope people actually have a memorable weekend and keep those who served in their thoughts and prayers and don’t succumb to the pressures of a capitalistic weekend brought to you by Macy’s, Sears and whoever else. It’s sad that days like these are surrounded by greed.

But I digress.

I’m going to end this short blog entry with a message to a person who continues to leave comments. Or tries to. JHope@Yahoo.com, I’m sure you’ll read this and it’ll give you some sort of satisfaction that I acknowledged you. I even tried to email you but it says your email is invalid. You left a comment stating “I’m running away like a little bitch.” Yet, this is coming from a person who not only has an email specifically for trolling purposes, but won’t allow any incoming email. That to me says “coward”. I understand the internet is a fun place to go to harass people under an anonymous persona. You don’t have to take any responsibilities for the things you say and you can just disappear whenever you want.

This whole recruiting thing is in the past and forgotten about. It happened nearly ten years ago and I’ve let it all go and moved on. You seem to be thoroughly stuck on it like you want to squash some vendetta you have about the whole thing. Or maybe I’m just giving you too much credit. Who knows. I can’t even recall the First Sergeants name whom you’re speaking about; nor do I care what he’s doing or how he retired. If he retired with full benefits, good for him. Anyone who puts their time in no matter how great or poor of a leader they were, deserves such. Comparatively to the leaders in past units I served it, the ones I had in recruiting were extremely poor. When you have a Company Commander state that he hates recruiting and doesn’t want to be there, take a guess what that does to the morale. Recruiting is a tough gig all the way around. That’s all I need to say about that.

I’ve taken responsibility for the things that happened. And again, I was not kicked out of the service. I had a JAG lawyer and I signed a voluntary resignation and left the service under honorable conditions. Now I own a home, I have a good job and that’s that. If you’d like to open the lines of communication instead of hiding behind an email, I’m fine with that. You can also send me your address and we can talk face to face. I’m not hiding or running from anything.

You say you’re a Veteran, well, lets see.

Edit: JHope left another comment claiming he was in the same recruiting company I was in and insists I was “kicked out” of the Army. Yet, JHope continues to keep his emails blocked and won’t identify who he really is. He’s just “calling me out” on all my “lies” during my time in service. My time in service isn’t defined by 2 years and 8 months in recruiting but yet defined by my DD214 that says “General Discharge under Honorable Conditions”. That’s not being kicked out.

One day JHope will stop being so afraid and post his address along with allowing for emails because I have a pretty good idea who this JHope person really is.

 

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.

Mr. Alex Shelton, 2/70th AR

5055-Alexander%20Shelton

 

It’s hard to put into words how I’m feeling right now. The last couple of days have been a little exhausting after hearing the news of a former Thunderbolt taking his own life. I’m sure it’s been much, much more exhausting for others who were much closer to Alex Shelton. The thing is… I think about my deployment to Iraq every day. Since I’ve been out of the service, not a day goes by that I don’t think about my battle buddies, Iraq or Army life in general. Hell, I survived ten years in the service. It’s a lot longer than I thought I’d go.

Iraq was a difficult deployment for me because it wasn’t some field exercise in Hohenfels, Germany or somewhere in the backwoods of Kansas where everyone gets to go back to the barracks after a long day of training. Soldiers were getting killed on the battle field. Soldiers weren’t coming back for chow or to sleep in their bunks after a long day of running around in sector. Soldiers who were my friends, people I knew.

I joined the Army in April of 2000 as a tank mechanic because there wasn’t shit else to do with my life at the time. Who knew I’d be in Iraq five years later. I got out of the Army in 2003 and quickly rejoined the ranks in 2004 when America sent it’s men and women across the pond to war. I wanted to be an MP. I begged the recruiter to sign me up as an MP. I was just a shitbird needs of the Army recruit. Back to turning wrenches, back to wherever the Army needed me. Fort Riley, Kansas.

The shit I deal with every day probably doesn’t even come close to the some of the things my fellow soldiers had to endure during their time in combat. I’m not even going to sit here and compare. For most of my tour I sat in radio rooms, turned wrenches in motor pools and pulled many hours of boring, uneventful guard duty. All the while, my fellow soldiers were driving around getting blown up by IEDs and ambushed by the enemy.

I snuck out as much as I could. I ran with the Estonian Army and the Scouts (when they’d let me). I wanted to do my part on the battle field and not feel so useless in the radio room. I got to sit in those plush chairs day in and day out while the Infantry, Scouts and Mortar platoons trudged in and out of the outpost we managed to take over. Tired and beat down, they went on mission after mission.

I don’t know what Shelton endured during this tour of duty. Obviously, he had been through enough that he was fed up. For the most part, I can say I understand the pain. I live with guilt that I didn’t/couldn’t do more in combat for my Brothers. I live with physical pain from ten years of physical exercise that has worn my body down to a nub. I live with never-ending night terrors that, on most occasions, keep me up for hours on end at night. I have crying fits, long bouts of deep depression, paranoia…as some of the doctors say, my “combat switch” is still on, years later. If this is anything what Shelton has been feeling since he was honorably discharged from service, its extremely difficult to live with.

Some soldiers cope with this better than others. It doesn’t make us weak or lesser of a person if we cry or can’t soldier on through the day. We are human and we have been through a lot. The most important thing is; we have each other. Despite political beliefs, religious beliefs, personal opinions, or whatever…we have each other. I think of every 2/70th Armor Brother I had the pleasure of serving with in combat every single day of my life. I enjoy your Facebook updates, (no matter how fucked up they are) I read them and think about you guys every day. I love you like no other.

For the rest of you guys, Hurricanes (1/63AR) and you crazy 116th INF and 4-1ARTY guys, we had some awesome times as well, and like I said, despite any differences, I love you guys all the same.

 

‘Tis the Season

It’s Christmas. Again. Just another day to me. To you? It might be a joyous occasion meeting up with family and friends enjoying cold cuts and drinking booze. I don’t think I’ve had a meaningful Christmas since I was in my early teen years. Most of my Christmas adventures I spend alone. When I was in the Army, I spent quite a bit of the holidays overseas, in training areas, and with my military family. I don’t look at the holidays as a chance to get the latest and greatest gadget or gizmo… in fact, when I was a kid, I’d always try to come up with gift ideas that would be beneficial. But because I hated (and still do) buying gifts for others, I felt bad accepting things from other people.

To me, Christmas is all about spending time with loved ones. I hate how driven America is on buying frivolous bullshit for one an other. I spend a lot of time at work (I work retail security) and I watch people all day long. It’s frustrating to watch people treat others like shit during the time. Why is it frustrating? Because I lost some pretty awesome friends in combat so people get to spend their holidays driving like assholes, shitting on retail associates and treating complete strangers like trash just so they can buy materialistic garbage that probably won’t matter in a year.

So I dedicate this blog entry to my buddies, who I miss so fucking much right now, a very merry Christmas.

And the next time you’re standing in line at Starbucks or Wal-mart or wherever it is you fucking shop, and you’re all cranky and pissy because the person in front of you is taking their sweet time, just remember the soldiers that died in combat don’t get to enjoy the holidays with their families and friends anymore.

3