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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Nostalgia - Fort Pickett, VA - and other posts similar

On Friday, July 26th 2013, I wrapped up another annual training with the Army National Guard.  Going on seventeen years of service has brought perspective on not only service in the present, but a respect for the past.  When I say past, I mean those that have worn the uniform in the past, and also a deep seeded nostalgia for the Army Posts that we as National Guardsmen frequent.  The most recent annual training was completed at Fort Pickett, Virginia.  Most might consider this place a nightmare, but for me it holds a history that speaks louder the more time you spend within the boundaries that define it.  Some despise it, because it is one of the many National Guard posts that time has forgotten, funds for the military do not flood into Fort Pickett, or at least it wouldn't seem that way by taking a journey around the post.  Poorly maintained roads, old and not well maintained living quarters, a gym that if not for the workout being free I would never step inside of, there is little that looks as if it has been refurbished or recently built on Fort Pickett, but that may be just what makes it special to some, including me. 

Now, I will admit, I haven't seen every square inch of the compound, I haven't stepped inside every building (The officer's quarters were acceptable), but it seems that the government funds are not being funneled anywhere near the part of the post where we were operating.  Now, they do have a relatively new training institution (183rd Regiment Regional Training Institute) that looks like a very nice facility, plus there are newer buildings towards the main entrance of the post where it seems the majority of the employed population most likely functions, but for the most part it is somewhat a "throwback" feeling in the infrastructure. 

As I started to say, this may be annoying to some, or give it a feeling of inconvenience (really, who cares if the toilet stalls have doors on them?), but at one time these buildings most likely were a luxury for service members of the past.  Just goes to show how our society has changed, and along with it the standards expected in the military, even when it comes to creature comforts.  Kind of sad, but we still have to be prepared to just sleep under the stars, because that is all that may be available, and that is the reality of the Army.  Sometimes it just sucks, but it is our suck, and we try to embrace it, even when it is difficult to want to hold on to. 

Other than Fort Pickett, I have spent an overwhelming part of my time at another old and nostalgic military post, Fort Indiantown Gap, over the last five plus years.  Again, this facility has lodging and infrastructure that makes one consider the significant levity of our military's history and exactly whose "boots" we are trying to fill as we proceed through the twenty first century.  The history that these old building hold is immense, and we must always be aware and acknowledge the great Americans that have come before us that have utilized these training posts, slept in the barracks, and trained on the same ranges and roads that we use on a yearly basis.  If only the walls of many of these facilities could talk, the stories would be interesting to experience.  Fort Indiantown Gap has begun and extensive renovation project, many of the old areas have been renovated and the old dilapidated look of years gone by has been refurbished, new interiors and exteriors to include roofs have been reworked for the better.  Central air and heat add to the new renovated buildings, but there are plenty of buildings in a couple of areas of the post that are still one swift kick away from falling down, such was the last building we operated our Aid Station out of during a drill weekend in June.  There was a modest amount of vandalism in the building, walls falling apart, some drywall in places replaced with cardboard from MRE boxes.  And a stench of mold enough to give concern about how many spores we were breathing in and what type of mold it may be.  Luckily, we only spent one full day in the building.  It needs to be torn down, this is one building not worth renovating. 

For more information on these two instrumental Army National Guard military posts click the links below.

Fort Indiantown Gap:

Fort Pickett:

Not much available on the VAARNG online?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

144th ASMC and Iraq... Part Six (The second 6 months)

The atmosphere during the latter half of our deployment at Scania was in stark contrast to the first half.  During the first 6 months I mentioned that the deployment felt nothing unlike the year I had spent in Korea several years before, the most significant difference being we could not leave the post to go downrange and get some drinks.  That, and the fact that I never wore anything but Army uniforms as per regulation while deployed to Iraq.  Otherwise those first 6 months were relatively peaceful, not a whole lot of concerns about the conflict from our standpoint, most the violence and action was north of us and only on occasion did we see combat related injuries.  That peacefulness changed, and once it changed, the change wasn't for the better, nor would it return to what it was those first 6 months.

Once we started receiving mortar or rocket attacks, well, they kept coming.  Luckily for us, it only averaged one a week through the last 6 months of the deployment, but that is enough to rattle everyone from time to time.  Especially when it occurs while in a dead sleep.  It was always interesting waking up to the sounds of mortars or rockets detonating and for the first few seconds of discernible consciousness wondering if it was real or not.  I would lay there and it wouldn't be until the subsequent rounds hit that I would realize it was real, unless the post-wide alert system had been activated prior to the trailing rounds shaking the ground.  They never shot a single round, I think the most that was aimed at our post during a single attack was 12.  But, as I mention in my book, they weren't very good at hitting anything that was of great importance.  Only a few of the attacks even landed near habitable areas on post, and when they did we did not see any injuries for the length of time we were deployed form attacks on our post.

The insurgency outside the wire started to creep south towards our location also, the frequency of attacks, IEDs, etc started showing up closer and closer to Scania over those second 6 months.  To the point that we started to see more injuries related to blast injuries.  Luckily for us, the severely wounded were evacuated from the point of impact/injury and only the non urgent casualties would be routed to our location.  Also, those poor souls killed in action (KIA) never passed through the door of our clinic, there was a mortuary affairs team that handled all the KIAs that came to our location.  We only had to deal with the effects of those deaths on the living that came through our doors after such events, although some would argue that is just as painful.

I hypothesized in my book the possibility that the increase in violence was somehow directly or indirectly related to the cease and desist order form our brigade on treatment of local nationals.  The first 6 months of the deployment were extremely gratifying, but that humanitarian mission ended quickly and quietly and there were minimal confrontations with locals who we had been treating for months for severe burns that eventually understood that the medical rules of engagement had changed and thus so did our mission midway through the deployment.  My hypothesis that there was any correlation between the end of our local humanitarian mission and the sudden consistent mortar and rocket attacks was most likely just simply coincidence.  This was the time in the very early stages of the "surge" and the movement of violence south to or location was most likely the easiest way for the insurgents still willing to make some noise to continue to do so.  However, this is all my opinion, I have no verifiable data to conclude why the violence increased, I only know that is did.

So the second six months ended, through pure luck, my entire unit, including the team I led to Scania returned home, without physical injury.  Although we were leaving Iraq, for many of us the conflict was too strong to let go, many of us carried the mission home, held on tight, and it would take many months and years for us to return to somewhat of a normal life as we had known prior to deployment.  It was silly to think that we would ever return home the same persons we were when leaving, but I know that is how I thought, that nothing would change, that it would all be the same once I got home, but that was far from the truth although I wouldn't realize it for a few years after stepping back on American soil. 

So one chapter of deployment ended, and a new one would begin.

Excerpt from Combat Support; The True Burden Of Sacrifice
Chapter 13 "The Homecoming"

Our plane took off with the sun cresting to the east, spreading light and doing its best to heat up the cold November air. I kept to myself for most of the flight, speaking only when spoken to, trying to savor the knowledge of what was truth. That truth was just miles away, in a valley in which I’d lived for nearly eight years, minus the last fifteen months. It was still as if I were in a dream. I couldn’t comprehend it all, the finality of this deployment. Soon enough, though, there would be no time for disbelief and plenty of proof to make me a believer.

It was a pleasant ride. The mood inside the plane was, to say the least, upbeat. As we were told we’d begin our descent into the Salt Lake Valley, we all looked out the windows into the valley below. I hadn’t seen the valley pinched between the Wasatch Mountains in the east and the Oquirrh Range in the west in many months. The beauty of the valley is stunning no matter how many times you see it; it’s always awe inspiring. The Great Salt Lake spread out to the north and west of the Salt Lake International Airport like a great protector drowning all who would invade the valley from a direction not surrounded by mountain peaks. Although the smell of the lake does not impress, it’s as much an awesome sight from the air as the rest of the valley. I can’t recall which way we came into the valley; I’d made this trip many times, and this was the most memorable, but I can’t remember which path we took. It’s all a blur. Then the landing gear was down, and we slowly drifted down until rubber met the pavement of the Salt Lake International Airport runway. It was a sweet, smooth landing.

The Utah Air National Guard base is adjacent to the Salt Lake International airport. All that remained was for our plane to taxi out to the hanger that housed our welcome home committee, consisting of several top brass of the Utah National Guard and Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. But the most important welcome committee was those who had sacrificed the last fifteen months of their lives so we could go thousands of miles away to a strange land, to fulfill what we felt was an inherent responsibility for our nation. I joined the Army during peacetime, and never thought that I’d have the opportunity to serve my country in this capacity. I’ve never felt more proud of completing a goal or mission in my life than I did on this day. I may never again have the opportunity to serve this way, but no one can take away the fact that we’d done it, and now all that separated us from our families and completed mission were a few hundred meters of asphalt and a fuselage door.


Sunday, May 26, 2013

If Only Everyone Understood Freedom

We are literally wading through a very important and defining time in the history of our country.  After long hard fought conflicts, one in Iraq that has ended, and one in Afghanistan that is winding down, after recession and unemployment, after watching mother nature tear paths of destruction through various Midwest communities, and along the Jersey shore, we realize how tiny, how miniscule our individual lives truly are.  We, especially those of us fortunate enough to educate ourselves, institutionally, acquire degrees, which allow us to find employment, to feed our families, and ourselves, so we look upon this world and wonder, wonder why extremism is so easy to succumb to, why it is such an easy choice.  But, in reality, the answer to why it is such an easy choice is simple, it isn't about a religion, that truly, that alone, doesn't place one on the path to fundamentalism. 

Religions, all religions, might have violence within the written history that provides the foundation of faith, but religion, no religion, preaches violence as a way to worship God.  Not today, not in 2013, not in a progressive world in which we live.  That is why it is hard for us to understand, it makes no sense, religion + violence, seriously, that is pure ignorance, pure insanity, pure stupidity, and simply the underlying malignancy that eats away at the fabric of our society, slowing the growth we need to charge ahead into a future waiting for endless accomplishments in the fields of science, medicine, technology, philosophy, and humanity.  Infinite solutions to all our living problems lie waiting, waiting for the ingenuity, the ingenuity often wasted by those becoming trapped by false preaching and promises that only the ignorance of naivety will accept as truth.   But yet, we watch the lemmings, trampling down the same path, that leads to nowhere.  I love the lemmings, but I hate violence on the innocent, war brought upon the innocent.  That I cannot accept, that in itself is enough for me to fight.  I understand commitment, I understand "what" is worth fighting for, my God, the only God, for whom I believe, my God doesn't want me to kill, would never ask me to kill, would never expect me to kill, or call out his name while doing so.  Calling upon God is not meant for those taking life, but for those who are leaving life, my God chooses who lives or dies, no human reserves the right to determine life versus death. 

However, in this world, we are placed in situations, we are not only servants to our God ,but servants to our morals, values, those that define the free world we live in.  Those values, the fundamental understanding of freedom in this world alone is worth dying for, the power that freedom places in the individual's hands, those who own it, and explore it, and cherish it, that power is limitless, it is endless.  But yet, there are those, who with little knowledge or understanding of true freedom, let their individual weakness act as a magnet for hate as they drift towards groups that simply want to erase the freedoms we live with.  They don't want women to have equal rights or say, they feel that they can rule with an iron fist and snuff out anyone who opposes their "rule of law."  Not much law if you ask this guy, seems to be sort of like the wild west, which if they would progress as a society, if they would evolve, I guess then in the long run, they would be more like us in the end. 

What this boils down to is simply this...  

Maybe we shouldn't care, let's pack our shit up, pull all our people and interests out of the regions where we try to actively make a difference and better the lives of those less fortunate than us here in the U.S.  Let's start investing all those resources and funds into our infrastructure, into our children, into the less fortunate in the U.S. who by no choice of their own are born in the inner city or rural areas where, due to economics or domestic circumstances, will not have the same opportunity as their fellow citizens as they grow with the population that will eventually care and manage this nation.  Let's make housing more affordable, and secondary education available to all who wish to seek it, there are many who don't exactly for the reasons I stated above who with the right tools and training will make great contributions to society, but otherwise they may fall into the great wastebasket that tends to snatch up those who just can't seem to get a leg up, regardless of what they try personally.  Let's stop caring about the Middle East, Southwest Asia, we can take all our troops out of South Korea, Germany, Italy, the Sinai, and all other locations around the world.  Bring them home, train them, and await the next conflict that affects our interests and no one else's.  We can invest more on monitoring those in the U.S. who are plotting against our interests, maybe we can avoid the next Boston Marathon type attack.  We can focus on ourselves, focus on the greatest nation that has existed in the known history of this planet, maybe then, maybe then, the radicals of the world will leave us alone.

Yeah, not ever gonna happen, they will never leave us alone, and we will never stop hunting them.  You see, freedom will win, and if you ignorant lemmings who fall into the fundamentalist trap ever have a fleeting, conscious, meaningful, thought of your own, then maybe your mind will be opened up to the world through freedom's eyes.  Best of luck to you, until then, may death find a cold, dirty, deep, grave for your body, and a nice, hot, painful, place for your soul. 

The "I AM" military movement, if I can get it started.  Not sure anyone is listening, but if you are, then don't just follow, lead, and make every day relevant.  Expedite!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Battleground USA (a short statement)

Pansies, not an ounce of courage, not a hint of bravery, a classless scourge of the earth willing to inflict hate, pain, suffering, and terror on the innocent.  No identifying garb is worn. But a uniform of cowardice enshrouds blackened hearts and souls, leaving them cowering in the shadows, hiding behind false teachings and uneducated doctrine of generations long passed. This is an enemy, a cowardly, selfish, unjust, pride-less, spineless, emotionless enemy, afraid to stand toe to toe against a uniformed fighting machine.  Because they know what awaits them, a defeat so deafening that even the demons waiting for them in hell will bring more of a welcoming sight and sound. Battles are fought during wars; war is constructed and executed on a battlefield. This can encompass a great deal of locations, but one fact is that your target is strategically and essentially related to the overall goal of conquering the enemy militarily.  However, this is not how the enemy conducts itself. Our enemy now cowers under a Godless society, one corrupt and ignorant to life, and the God given right to live in a society without fear of retribution for wars that governments and militaries wage, that have nothing to do with the innocent, those who want nothing but to walk down a public sidewalk and be at peace.  We, as a warring nation, as a fighting machine, seek not to defeat a nation's people, regardless of religion, race, creed, or their leaders tyrannical visions and grandiose desires, but to erase, eradicate, exterminate, and completely terminate the infectious ideals, extreme radical beliefs, and rabid fervor that plagues the mind of the brainwashed enemies of our nation, both foreign, and yes, also domestic. 
 A nation mourns, again, for the innocent.   May our response be swift, just, and if needed, deadly…..


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sequester this!!

It was all the talk, the big bad monster, the scare tactics being rammed down our throat, but what it seems to boil down to is the lack of responsibility and accountability of the elected officials in our country to simply "do their job!"  There are small examples I am witness to of how the sequester has affected those I know, or family members of some I know.  First, was the Federal Tuition Assistance program we use in the military being placed on hold.  Many I know were crying fowl, but honestly, being a guy who has served in both the Army and Army National Guard over the last 16 plus years and using all the educational benefits afforded service members, I would have survived without it.  Don't get me wrong, for education, any money available is extremely important, even an education from a university or college that is not considered at the forefront of academic institutions is very expensive in the present day.  I have student loans I had to take out to keep food on the table and clothes on the backs of my family while I went through the final two years of Physician Assistant school.  I make a great salary now, but I still owe over $60,000 dollars in student loans.  That sucks considering my entire tuition was paid by the Active Army GI Bill, Federal Tuition Assistance (FTA), and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's Educational Assistance Program (EAP).  But I had to sustain the life of my wife and four kids also, that took extra money, therefore, loans.  I planned on using FTA to complete my masters degree (8 semester hours from completing that), and that hangs in the balance.  However, if it goes away, I will make it work somehow.  I have heard that Congress voted to re-instate it, but I do not have the hard facts in front of my to confirm that, but heard it somewhere along my journeys between Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.

Another aspect I have seen locally is within the federal prison system, they have had correctional officers take unpaid days off during pay periods, or rotating furloughs of sorts.  Obviously this has not gone over very well with the correctional officers, it also means less staffing and other personnel in the prison systems expanding their typical job duties to some they may not be comfortable with.  Like a nurse walking the prison block acting as a correctional officer.  Yeah, that is intelligence for you, but when times are tough I guess everyone needs to step outside their comfort zone.  And so the sequester rolls on.

If you look at the facts (if I can believe the MSM - ha-ha), the sequester doesn't even really cut money from the budget, it just doesn't allow for as much spending as otherwise would have taken place.  With a national deficit pushing the 17 trillion dollar mark, you think our elected officials would be finding the extra pork and cutting the fat to try and reverse the course of the national debt.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, there are ways at every level to make cuts, they may seem simple and small, but they add up over time.

So, what the sequester should mean to all is simply this, come the mid-term elections in 2014, we need to clean house.  All sitting elected officials, left, right, middle, every single one up for re-election we need to put out on the street, back into the regular workforce.  Unfortunately they will collect benefits the rest of their lives, but that is what we need to take care of next.  No more automatic pension for serving less than 20 years as an elected federal official, and it will not be 100%, it will be equal to that of what a military service-member will receive after 20 years of service.  Americans need to stand up, and make accountable those who need to be accountable, no more special interests, lobbyists, big banks, big oil, or anyone with fat enough pockets to buy legislation should be allowed to manipulate our federal officials and in turn pass laws with asinine pork bloating what should be a simple, plain, legislative decision.

But honestly, America is not listening, the lemmings will continue to waddle, straight off the cliff the left or right leads them over.  It is sickening, but it is America, and the next best option, quite frankly, doesn't even come close to what we have, and will have in the future here.

Check out my book:
Combat Support "The True Burden of Sacrifice"
A simple story of the average Army National Guardsmen.  Soldier, husband, father, take the trip with me through my military career leading up to and through Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).  As I learn first hand that letting go of OIF is easier said than done, and nothing is ever as simple as it seems.  Exposing my failures as equal to my accomplishments, this story holds a familiar theme to all those who have served in the same capacity as myself, in a combat support role.  But it is simply one of a kind in the sincere honesty and humility that I share as I reflect on a deployment that will forever be the greatest experience of my professional career.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

144th ASMC and Iraq... Part Five (The first 6 months)

After suffering through three months of pre-deployment training, we finally had arrived in Iraq.  Flying into southern Iraq on a hot November Day.  I recall the flight on a C-130, as we took off, gained altitude quickly, and then quickly descended to the landing strip at Ali Air Base, or Tallil, near Nasiriyah, Iraq.  One of the soldiers in our company vomited on the flight across the border into Iraq, not sure if it was a combination of dehydration and sir sickness, or just one or the other individually.  Luckily for me I was far enough away that I didn't even know it happened until we had landed and exited the C-130.  Again, thinking of this time makes me sort of nostalgic, I can still se the place, smell and taste the dusty air, and feel the heat, even though it was November. 

It was only a few short days until we were on the road to our individually assigned locations.  Our company, like others, was broken into several teams and distributed around the southern part of the country.  Those that were not assigned to a team were tasked with being part of a military transition team, working with Iraqi forces in some aspect, a difficult mission for those assigned, that came with significant combat action for many.  Strange, since we were medics, but a vital piece of the ongoing plan that was being implemented in Iraq at the time.  I had a choice prior to leaving the country for which mission I would prefer.  I was asked if I would rather be assigned as a team leader at one of the four locations a team was being placed, or if I would prefer to take one of the military transition team spots that we were being tasked to fill.  I chose to take an NCOIC (Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge), or team leader position, since I felt that would allow me to possibly leave at the earliest convenience for my mid-tour break in order to see my newborn daughter.    She was less than a month form being born after we landed, I already knew I wouldn't be able to go home for her birth, but was pretty much guaranteed by my company command that I would be afforded the opportunity to go home with one of the first available leave slots granted, that would eventually happen, on New Years Day 2006, almost a month after her birth.  I, and my team, were assigned to Combat Support Center Scania, a rest and refuel point between Tallil in the south, and Baghdad in the central part of the country.

Our initiation into operations at Scania was quick, my guys literally started the next morning, after arriving after midnight the same day.  We were quickly integrated and our predecessors had all left a few short days after we arrived, and we took total control of medical operations for the camp.  We were quickly introduced to an ongoing local national burn clinic that the units before us had been participating in, we also took up this task with great pleasure and continued to provide burn care for locals for the first six months of our deployment.  Unfortunately there would be an incident in May that was both tragic and unfortunate for us all that would eventually get the wheels of motion spinning for all local national support to cease.  New medical rules of engagement laid out the directive that no care could be provided to locals unless the injuries sustained were caused by U.S. or coalition forces, this mission stopped, but our care for the troops and all coalition partners continued.  With the end of local national care, also came the reality that we were in a war zone.  During those first six months the only sound of violence was at the test fire pit as convoys rolled out and the crew served weapons (50 caliber or other turret mounted weapons system) was test fired. 

Well, we soon found out a war was waging, and we would just be counting our blessings until it was our time to leave, and hoping that a stray rocket or mortar would not find flesh.  A significant wish knowing 6 months of the deployment remained.

The deployment for Operation Iraqi Freedom is well detailed in my journal, many entries are found in my book, Combat Support "The True Burden Of Sacrifice."  The book can be found online anywhere books are sold.  It also can be purchased at any local bookstore if ordered.  Below is an excerpt from the book:

The Best-Kept Secret in Iraq
Monday, November21, 2005
Finally, a chance to put some words down after three days of what seemed like non-stop work, but I can’t complain. Here I am at Camp Scania, a combat support camp two hours south of Baghdad and three hours north of Tallil Airbase, our introduction to this war-torn country. We left Tallil at approximately 1900 hrs on Friday, November 19, and rolled up one of the main supply routes (MSR Tampa) in the darkness. When I say darkness, I mean complete darkness as we made our way off Camp Cedar, just outside of Tallil. Then we picked up a couple dozen trucks that were convoying north. Along with the six vehicles we had, four Humvees, and two LMTVs (light medium tactical
vehicles), we were escorted by three gun trucks with turret-mounted fifty-caliber machine guns for security.

We hit the pavement and for some reason, once the entire convoy was on the hardball, we stopped. It was dark—and all the training we had the last few months told me this wasn’t good. We weren’t supposed to stop on a road in Iraq unless it was absolutely necessary. Nonetheless, we sat there for some time, and a little more, and more yet, then after an hour we finally started to roll. As we proceeded north we crossed the Euphrates River, the bridge was guarded by some Italian or Polish troops, then pushed along for the three-hour voyage to Camp Scania. Our trip was eventless—no IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices), no small arms or RPG attacks—but that wasn’t unexpected for the number of convoys the coalition forces roll north and south daily. Incidents occur only a small percentage of the time. I saw at least ten other convoys as we waited and traveled.

The mortar attack on the camp wasn’t last week, or last month, but it did occur on the August 27, coincidentally my birthday. I’m not sure that has anything to do with anything, but I found it odd that of all 365 days in the year the one mortar that fell on the camp I’m now living on came on my birthday. Due to our stalled convoy, we arrived at my new home around midnight. After I met the soldiers we’ll replace, we went to midnight chow and found our C-hut, the wooden hooch we’re living in, and got ready for bed. That night I got about three hours of sleep. The next day was spent getting briefed and getting pertinent instructions from the Troop Medical Clinic (TMC) leadership we’re replacing here at Scania. It was a long day full of head-splitting information about the operations of our TMC. We have nine medics, including me, a lab tech, and a medical service corps officer who is the administrator of our clinic. A small group, but I got things rolling right away. A majority of the group that we were replacing left the next day, and I made a schedule to cover our clinic with three eight-hour shifts that began immediately and has worked out fine.
In all, this place is a pretty good assignment, especially since the person in charge is me. Not to mention that our command is three hours away and I can run this place as I see fit. The gym is sweet—state-of-the-art equipment, and there’s an Internet cafĂ© and calling center. However, I have access to the Internet at the clinic as well as phones, so I don’t have to leave work for either. Laundry service has a four-hour turnaround and is free, and the dining facility is the best I’ve eaten in since being mobilized. I should mention that the clinic is in sort of a primitive
setting, an old Iraqi building, but we have all the things we need to do our job, plus some luxuries of home. Oh, there’s also a TV with a satellite receiver in the clinic. We only get ten stations because it’s Armed Forces Network TV, but we can see most of the sporting events and shows we would see at home when they air, although that tends to be during the early morning hours.

The three soldiers that stayed here with us to bring us up to speed have been invaluable. All of them are soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, same place as my cousin Chad. They’re active Army guys so I expected good things coming in, but the guy I’m replacing, SFC Blas, is someone I would love to work with anywhere, He has a great work ethic and is the type of soldier that everyone strives to be. Lieutenant (LT) Grey and SGT Moore (x-ray) are the other two who stayed behind, and although I was busy with SFC Blas, our LT and x-ray tech got invaluable insight from each of them. To show our appreciation for all the effort they put into getting us up to par, we gave each of them one of our unit coins tonight. Although the coin isn’t being passed down from a General (GEN) or CSM, I figured since they were active Army, there wouldn’t be another soul they’d meet during their careers who had this coin. They seemed appreciative. The coins came from three of the soldiers (SGT Kadleck, SPC Clark, and SPC Perkins) working for me because all our unit coins have been handed out, and the 1SG informed me we have none left. The three who gave up their coins will receive new ones once we have a new shipment.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The biology of governing

Over the weeks spanning the holiday season I witnessed some of the most magical moments of questionable leadership I believe our nation has ever witnessed.  Now, after thirty-eight years of life, serving my nation as a member of the armed forces for sixteen of those years, I see we have come to a crossroads as a nation.  We have watched, yes, silently for the most part, as our governing politicians pushed an already ballooned deficit to astronomic heights, with no end in sight.  In order to save the American people from the hardships of falling over the mystical "fiscal cliff," they pass a half-assed bill that raises taxes, increases spending, and has limited spending cuts.  In the one area of government we can make great strides to help balance the budget we make the most minimal of effort.  First of all, we could have saved over 100 million dollars by avoiding the costs of an inauguration that was certainly deserving, but certainly is not worth the money considering these challenging economic times.  At the lowest level of government we can halt all the useless spending that we all have witnessed, it can simply start with management at the lowest level of government being diligent about the money they spend.  Having functioned at the lowest level of government as a civilian and service member I know first hand that there are ways we can cut spending and save.  If that is done at each respective location at the lowest level, well, it would all add up.  Now, it isn't a "save all" solution, but it is a start.  Let's cut out the temporary duty assignments we send civilian and service members on, let's only send those that are "mission essential."  Let's conserve supplies and do with what materials and supplies we currently have until we find our way closer to a balanced budget.  Hell, I didn't as the government to buy a medical exam table for the aid station in our armory, I went on ebay myself, found one, bought it and drove the 150+ mile round trip to pick it up and deliver it to our armory.  I also purchased a desk, provided one of my old printers, and will provide more of my own money and resources to make the space we occupy and work in more efficient and self sustaining.  I have also had enlisted members of the medical platoon spend money for various items within the aid station, so it is more than a one man show to make it operate, but the bottom line is, I am not asking for anything extra from my government, don't need it, and don't want it at this time. 

Now these last few weeks have also kept me very busy, no time to blog, barely any time to think.  Besides trudging through the holiday season with my family, I have been extremely busy at my civilian job, holidays are like that, everyone wanting time off.  My father has been struggling with the fact he is losing his vision (and there is nothing he can do to recover what he lost) and I have been trying to support him and my mother as best I could during these times.  So, I have put very little effort into promoting my book, or completing my masters degree which I am now 8 credit hours short of completing.  But, I want to get back on the horse, write a little more and spread the word of my book out to a larger audience within the United States.  A month or so ago, I thought it would be a good idea to place a Facebook add and open it up to various foreign countries to include the Middle East.  I am glad I did, but it is strange to see that I got more likes from Iraq, India, Pakistan and other various parts of the Middle East and Asia than I did in the United States during the time the add ran.  Kind of disturbing to think that those in the Middle East would see a book with an American flag as the cover, the books title "Combat Support; The True Burden Of Sacrifice," and the short caption stating "One soldier's true story, before, during, and after Operation Iraqi Freedom," and like it more frequently than those in the United States.  I think this story has great potential, but I have other stories that will have great potential I want to work on in the near future, to include a screenplay which I want to keep mum about because I am very excited about the potential it holds, but this one is out and it is time people start to talk about it.

So, I should try and define my post title; "The biology of governing."  Considering we are all biological creatures, at times I find it easy to draw direct correlation between our internal workings, and the workings of our race externally.  As with our own physiology, there are consequences to the disruption of the normalcy, or "equilibrium" our bodies have come to know and expect to continue with automatic heartbeat and respirations.  Just like the cell cycle (talking cell biology here), if that cell avoids cell death (programmed cell death -apoptosis), then we have a cell that grows out of control and sucks up energy and nutrients and eventually life.  This is how we get cancer, when a cell fails to terminate as it is programmed to do, something has mutated the DNA to allow it to keep reproducing, this can be bad, as with cancer.  It seems our government has failed to see that it has exceeded it's ability to function without growing out of control.  Now, we don't want the death of our government, we just want it to churn along, like our ever beating hearts, with a continuous steady flow, without death, but also without consuming all the liberties and luxuries we have worked so hard for in this life.  Do we need government to legislate?  Yes, that is what it is there for.  Is our government doing a good job at legislating?  No, we currently have political figures who are controlled by special interests and lobbyists, politicians who are not concerned about the everyday citizen who follows the law and goes to the booth to vote come election time.  Instead, the ONES who control politicians are those who put money in the politicians' pockets, they are the ones driving our government and denying the rest of us what we truly want.  A fair, honest, transparent government.

Not like government hasn't been like this for years, it is no different now than it was twenty years ago.  The difference now is we need to step up and make some changes.  Not with guns or knives, but with the next election cycle.  No government official serving in office now should retain their seat come 2014.  We, as Americans, need to send a message.  A message telling all political figures across the country that we will be heard, you will listen, this is a government of the people, by the people, for the people.  We are taking our country back, and you will be looking for new jobs come 2014.  When government goes wrong, where do you go?

This message was not meant to hurt or betray any governing official, just point out what is the simple truth.  You need to step up, man (or woman) up, and do your damn job!  Stop the partisan bickering and bullshit and just do the damn job you were put in office to complete!  If you can't handle it, start making plans for a new career path in 2014.