Penetration Before Detonation

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Going along the line of my last post about boxes full of my Air Force and AMMO shit that my wife got ahold of, I decided that my last post merely scratched the surface of a few topics that I finally decided to discuss. If you didn’t read We Live So Others May Die then this may seem pretty random and might not make total sense, but then again that can be said for most of the shit I write anyway. I had left out my jacket from the last story, I think I got sidetracked or something. But, the jacket pictured is a big part in ways of expressing and explaining how I’ve changed over the last 15 years since getting out of the Air Force. How so? In many ways one might say I matured, maybe grew up is better, since I was 32 at the time of exiting. The things that were my life and priorities were very different only a week later, no more eating all things dangerous for breakfast and shitting tiffany bullets by dinner, providing the enemy the opportunity to die for his country was no longer printed on my business cards. Overnight my life as I knew it was upside down, it was a disaster and a hard first few weeks, and slowly the stress of that job faded.

But let’s go back first, way back. My dad was a retired Air Force Chief Master Sergeant before I was born in 68. It wasn’t until my teen years that he began to open up to me about his military career. The thing that used to intrigue me the most about his career was him telling me, in a joking manner, that Uncle Sam used to pay him to blow shit up, and I thought that he had to have had the best job known to man. My mind was made up, I was joining the Air Force and do what he did. However, by the time it was time certain jobs had been retired and new ones created. Let history show that I chose to be a 461. Now, we all have heard that Air Force basic training is relatively easy, right? Right. I won’t lie, it was easy. I think it’s easy because they’re not really training “soldiers” or “badasses” by definition, they’re teaching military service as a way of life, like summer camp but with better weapons, because they know one is in the air force to do things on the more technical side. Blah, blah, blah, it was a breeze. Technical school for the 461 was a crash course in how not to end up dead, full of many technical terms, safety, and how one must absolutely positively respect explosives or they simply put your dog tags in an envelope to mail to your next of kin because typically that’s all one can expect to be remaining. All that being said, it stuck with me always, respect. And sure enough I got out with all ten fingers and toes and everything in the middle. I paid the price tho, I drank the kool-aid, I started believing the propaganda as the everloving truth, I would preach it all like the gospel itself. Later in my career I had my wake up call, and at that point I was no longer able to be detached from the horrors of what I helped create.

I wore this jacket everywhere, I wore it with absolute pride knowing if I did my job properly then without prejudice those weapons would function as designed. I mean think about it, without explosives the Air Force is just the world’s largest airline which was even more lore and propaganda, I had a head full of it, it was pounded in until my sweat glands weeped it all back out, it was like the victory lap after being full circle for hundreds of miles yet never going anywhere. It’s a beautiful plan. And just to think that the general population of the United States of America is opposed to the waterboarding of our enemies but it’s OK to brainwash our sons and daughters in the military because we must make stronger soldiers. Bullshit. They break you down and then build the you they think you should be, fuck the real you, the real you is DOA once you sign the dotted line. My whole career was just a dangerous game, I got to dance with the devil and sleep with his daughters all in the name of democracy and the American way. I know this sounds bitter and sarcastic, I’m not trying to, because I actually really loved being in the Air Force. As my jacket reads, I even advertised our services for free every moment I wasn’t in uniform.

Back to present day, this jacket was neatly folded laying on top of everything else in the box, resting for eternity, or so I thought, until I see it has been resurrected. But the emotion I had was not anger for digging up my skeletons, it was a smile and surprise. As soon as I said I would not be wearing it, simply because I had a growth spurt in my mid 30s, my son volunteers to be its proud new owner. Way wrong fucking answer boy, it will never happen. First of all, it is not appropriate to wear to school, I don’t care if he is in the AFJROTC in high school, I really don’t. Sure, it would be cool for him to show off, but all the perverts would find some way of making it a sexual statement. Just say it to yourself and imagine all the meanings. Of course, very few know it is the calling card and slogan for my favorite weapon of all, the BLU-109. Yes, I had a fantastic favorite, seems weird now, stop making it weird people. Plus, its not his “game” to play with people. I can back my shit up, he cannot. Yes, I can remember wanting to wear my father’s uniforms and so forth so I do get the psychology. But the responsible dad part of me just says no to it altogether.

Damn, of course, this story, this little piece of personal history, has gone in so many directions. Oh well, maybe some of y’all get it, and I cannot help the rest of y’all. This reminds me of so much more, I hope this doesn’t constitute violating the terms I signed when I got out, you know the form, don’t ever talk about your job from this day forward or go to federal prison. I knew I would crack one day, I just never knew when. So, until next time boys and girls, remember to eat it every day!

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We Are Veterans Every Day Of The Year

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Every once in a while there is something that rubs me the wrong fucking way and typically I try to keep my big mouth shut because my words fall on deaf ears. I, and all veterans of our United States military, are veterans every single day of the year. There is not a special day like 11 November that we are magically a veteran, we are veterans whether you fucking celebrate or not. We are not fucking tokens to be polished up and displayed for your annual appreciation, we are people, we are veterans, and we are here every single fucking day of the year. I spent the latter part of this morning reading emails, Facebook posts, Tweets, Google+ posts, and texts because I was out earlier, as I am every Wednesday, spending time with my veteran friends who go otherwise unnoticed. They have been discarded at one point or another by family and friends, nobody even wants to be in their lives any longer. I’ve been visiting every Wednesday without fail for 16 years because I want to be a part of their lives. I have met many wonderful men and women who proudly served our Nation’s military. They are a group who are homeless, or jobless, or bent, or broken, or in need, or all of the above, but they are also human beings who get treated like the scum of the Earth. My question to you is why? Unfortunately I cannot be anything more than a friend to any of them. Unfortunately all I have to offer is kindness and my time. Unfortunately my smiles, hugs, and words are never enough.

On this day, 11 November 2015, a young man I spent allot of time getting to know was not at our meeting place. Early this morning he was stabbed and killed while sleeping outside under a bridge. Why? We will never fucking know. What I do know is that people celebrate only those whom they come into contact with, free meals here and there, discounts at this place or that place, partial proceeds donated to one organization or another today only, and taking the time to thank a veteran for his/her service and commitment when we show our faces. I’m not the person who you’ll see enjoying a free meal, I’m not the person you’ll see buying a new car, I’m not the person you’ll see at the big sales today, I’m not the person you’ll see getting a free haircut today, you won’t see me today because I, like all of our veterans, are veterans every day of the year.

I don’t know how you teach your children or how you were taught, but my children are taught that veterans are human beings all year long, not just on a day of remembrance, not just on other holidays, we are here every day. I’m one of the lucky ones, I have a loving, understanding family, I have a job, I have a roof over our heads, and I try to live a normal life. I know many veterans who do not, who struggle every day to survive mentally, spiritually, and physically, they no longer know the peace I feel. We are a growing number that most don’t remember until Veterans Day, but we are always here.

In closing I would like to say that I’m a proud veteran who does not regret his service to his country. I will ask all of y’all to remember that we will still exist tomorrow, the next day, and forever. All I want is kindness and a smile for myself and all veterans, show us we mean something all the time because so many veterans don’t have friends and families in their lives. I will leave y’all with this very moving poem. As a sidenote, I do not have express permission to display this poem and can only hope that nobody minds it’s presentation on my blog, it’s one of my favorite veterans poem.

JUST A COMMON SOLDIER

(A Soldier Died Today)

by A. Lawrence Vaincourt

He was getting  old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast,

And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,

In his exploits with his buddies; they were heroes, every one.

And tho’ sometimes, to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,

All his Legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.

But we’ll hear his tales no longer for old Bill has passed away,

And the world’s a little poorer, for a soldier died today.

He will not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,

For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.

Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,

And the world won’t note his passing, though a soldier died today.

When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,

While thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell their whole life stories, from the time that they were young,

But the passing of a soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land

A guy who breaks his promises and cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow who, in times of war and strife,

Goes off to serve his Country and offers up his life?

A politician’s stipend and the style in which he lives

Are sometimes disproportionate to the service that he gives.

While the ordinary soldier, who offered up his all,

Is paid off with a medal and perhaps, a pension small.

It’s so easy to forget them for it was so long ago,

That the old Bills of our Country went to battle, but we know

It was not the politicians, with their compromise and ploys,

Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger, with your enemies at hand,

Would you want a politician with his ever-shifting stand?

Or would you prefer a soldier, who has sworn to defend

His home, his kin and Country and would fight until the end?

He was just a common soldier and his ranks are growing thin,

But his presence should remind us we may need his like again.

For when countries are in conflict, then we find the soldier’s part

Is to clean up all the troubles that the politicians start.

I Was Walking In A Circle

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I realized that my feet felt as if they weighed a ton a piece, looking down I see that I’m wading through a foot of thick mud, going towards what appeared to be the direction I was drawn to head. The closer it seemed I would get to my destination I would notice the distance increase. I was carrying a bag which seemed to get heavier by the step, I wonder what I could be carrying that could weigh so much, I wanted to open the bag but in the darkness I don’t know how I would see inside. Hearing the loud crashes of thunder I wanted to move faster, I wanted to find shelter, as I watched the flashes of lightning in the distance I wanted to get away from the tall trees, but the flashes got brighter and the thickness of trees only increased, the more I pushed the more trees I can see. Hours seem to pass before my surroundings begin to seem familiar, I’ve been here before, and before that I was here also, but where is here, why do I keep coming back, I keep finding the same path, leading me to the same damn place, I’ve been here but this place is not familiar, it’s darkness reminds me of having my eyes closed, unable to see, only being able to hear, to feel, and smell the rot in the humid air. What is that familiar smell, why do I know the soothing scent, it is pleasing to me, it makes me feel secure in a place I should know but don’t recognize. As I rest I feel each drop of the rain touch my face, rolling down the skin like warm tears. In my mind I hear Freebird, it’s loud and I hear it echo in the trees, I need to start moving now, I need to get to a safer place, this place smells of death, it smells of rotting corpses, there are thousands of them. As the light of day breaks I can see the bodies I’m walking on, wading through like mud, the blood is over the top of my boots, it’s weight is increasing with every step, I look down and see the faces, faces that didn’t see what had killed them, I know what killed them, I know what the thunder is, I know the lightning flashes, I know what has happened.

As I sit in my recliner with my eyes closed shut, telling my wife for the first time ever what it was like to see the destruction as a result of what I did while in the Air Force. The reality of it is that it isn’t a forest, it is a desert, it is a place I never want to return to, and rarely, if never, talk about it. I’ve been married for 16 years, to a wife that came along after the Air Force, she just doesn’t want to understand, and I’m okay with that. The mere fact that I’m writing about it amazes me, it still hurts, it is still fresh when I close my eyes, and I fear there are not enough pleasant memories ahead to knock it the fuck out. I spent years detached from the reality that the weapons I helped build destroyed life and property, it wasn’t me pulling the trigger, it wasn’t me hitting the target, but a simple walk down a deserted street after a carpet bombing the night before let reality set in, no longer was I detached, no longer was I innocent, and I knew then changes needed to happen or I would lose my mind. Like a good soldier I pressed forward, putting behind me horrors that cannot be unseen or forgotten. What gets seen cannot be unseen, unfortunately it is very true. My wife wants me to talk to a headshrinker, I opted out. And now I see, once again, talking about it isn’t worth a fuck, I just leave more out each time. I hope that in time, preferably before my wife has me cremated, that I just forgot about the shit and everyone else forgets it as well.

When I talk about Desert Storm and later The Liberation of Kuwait it is to educate myself and others about how the real world is, beyond the news, beyond the media, beyond what the politicians think they know. There is zero reasons I should feel guilty for being a part of the machine which is called the military. I took responsibility for my personal contributions while in the Air Force, I do not blame others, there was no gun to my head, I served, fuck it, I’m a proud veteran, I can’t ever take it back. Some of y’all understand my pain, the rest of all will never have a fucking clue, y’all are the lucky ones, the innocent ones, the ones who close their eyes without fear. Anyway, to my wife who is reading this post, I hope this has helped you, at least a little. I never asked to be anyone’s hero, I never asked for people to thank me, I never asked for people to want to take a picture with me if they find out I’m a disabled veteran, I just joined the Air Force because I wanted to serve my country because I thought I could and would make a difference. But, I can’t fix stupid and stupid wanted a robot who didn’t care, that person is not me.

Before I go, let me tell you about the one and only time my ex-wife was able to pry out of me what I didn’t want open. Y’all see, she was studying to become a sociologist and well on her way to being a social worker, she thought we could talk about it, that I would be comfortable knowing that she, of all people, would not pass judgment. When I was done talking she was in tears, she was appalled that I was part of the organization which promotes peace through the use of violence, she told me she was ashamed to be in the same room with me, ashamed to share a last name with me in marriage, and that one day I will pay for my sins of being a baby killer in the deepest, darkest parts of hell, a place reserved for rapists and paedophiles. At first I believed she was right, it matches how I feel, but soon I realized that I am a simple person who was not looking for redemption or forgiveness, I wasn’t even looking for understanding, I just wanted to know if the words I would speak would or could sound like the thoughts in my head or the memories I have or how I feel deep down in that part of me nobody gets to witness, ever. Shit goes there to be buried and forgotten, it takes time to dig it up, nobody quite understands that, scratch that, some do understand, those are the people who don’t have physical scarring but are somewhat fucked in every other way, we know what each other are thinking, not even we understand so we don’t expect others to either. We don’t look for eyes or words if pity, we do appreciate it when others respect us enough as human beings just to let things be.

My wife hugged me, long and tight, not a word spoken, with tears down her face, she told me I’m home, I’m with people whom I love and that love me, support me, and care about me. That was the best hug I have had to this day in my life, a memory I will forever cherish. My message to my wife and to my son who will read this post later is that life happens every minute of every day, take time to see the scenery, smell the rain in the distance, we only have one shot at this life so we better live it to the fullest. My daughters give me their support as well, still I wonder if they really understand or if I just get the nod. This, unless something snaps again, will probably be the last time I discuss any of this on a personal level, this shit sucks to remember, to relive, and to talk about. Some call blogging “therapy”, and it is, but not today, today is more like anger management for me. Remember, no pictures please, ever, for any reason.

United States Air Force Veteran

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We No Longer Will Be Silent!

Yesterday I stumbled across this very helpful information that Bryant Teetor took the time to not only share on his Facebook wall but also in a Facebook group which was designed to help veterans looking for answers. I obtained permission to share the below information from Bryant Teetor so if it helped you or you appreciate the information please comment here and please pay him a visit. I will be sharing this post via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Blogcatalog. I urge everyone reading this information to reblog it and share it in as many places as possible because many veterans sit in silence, in misery, and alone not knowing others are trying to help them. I appreciate everyone’s help, and like Bryant Teetor, I hope this information helps any veteran seeking better answers. The following text and photo belong to Bryant Teetor with permission to spread it anywhere and everywhere. He gets a giant Thank You from me personally.

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I hope that this helps at least one VETERAN…that is success! Have a problem getting an appointment? Is it in a reasonable amount of time? Are you willing to wait or is it worth the wait based on seriousness of condition? (Originally posted by Bryant Teetor via Facebook). Steps I use when I dont like the wait and feel like Im getting blown off, kicked to the curb….and I Hope the VA staff is reading!

1. Login to healthyvet and send a secure message to your PCP (Primary care physician). [My PCP’s nurse 100% of the time is the person who opens and responds to my messages]

2. Dont wait on a response. CALL your PCP’s office and ask to speak to his nurse. Leave a message on nurses voicemail. Dont stop calling until you speak to her or until she returns your call… 2 days is long enough to wait…if it takes more time than that, go to #4.

3. Discuss the extensive wait time you have been forced into and let her know that is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Ask for her to add a note to your records “Requesting your PCP to input a referral request to Non VA Coordinated Care (aka Fee Basis) for approval of a civilian specialist/doctor visit and at least 2 follow-ups.”

4. If step #2 failed, go talk to your PCP’s nurse or the doctor in person (sit and wait till it happens) and inform them of your request. Deliver your request to them in writing as well.

5. You can also send your request by mail as back-up. The office staff of your PCP or the nurse, should give you their direct fax #, which you can also use. Mark your request Attn to [your Nurse’s name] and [For your PCP’ name].

6. Keep original correspondence in a safe place…easy to find. I scan everything into files on my computer and have numerous back-ups on USB drives and Discs. You can also Get and use these free cellphone Apps: ACR (auto phone recorder) and PE COACH (legel audio recorder for doctor and therapy visits + numerous other useful features).

7. Be a WARRIOR to yourself. Don’t be a do nothing sit on your ass defeated veteran about the VA’s bad treatment to you. NEVER GIVE UP OR SETTLE FOR LESS THAN YOU FEEL YOU DESERVE. You are your own best ADVOCATE!

8. WTF are you still reading this for? Why haven’t you started with #1 already?

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Walking The Halls Of A VA Hospital

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I have been wanting to write this entry for a few weeks now, but today I’m sitting down to actually do it. Its going to be allot food for thought, my personal observations, and about something that was said to me that I really did not appreciate one damn bit. It may seem as though I am ranting, which it is a little, but more venting than anything else. Before this year my dealings with the Veterans Administration (VA) has been very limited because other than receiving a check every month and my initial VA home loan I haven’t had a real need. Regulars here over the years know I am a retired disabled Air Force veteran who participated in Desert Storm and The Liberation of Kuwait back in the 90s. I am disabled with a 100% rating yet I have worked full time ever since the day I left the Air Force. Hell, the first time I visited the VA Medical Center here in Houston for my own personal needs was in February of this year (2014). There is but only one way to get into the VA medical system and that is to visit a medical center and take a fucking number.

Since that little adventure I have returned a handful of times and also to the VA clinic in Conroe where my PCP is located. My reasons were simple for beginning this journey so many years after my departure from the Air Force. First because my service related injury to continue care and because of needing diabetes medication. Both became an instant need once I was laid off in February this year. Never underestimate the need of private insurance and the amount of the financial burden it actually covers. I still had the needs I had beforehand, just now without insurance. So, I made a choice, and that choice was to start using my VA privileges for the first time. The inside of a VA hospital is a disheartening sight because inside a VA hospital is where one can see the cost of freedom just by witnessing the people visiting the hospital that day for their needs and services. I wondered the first time, just looking around, why in the fuck I am here. But, now I am a part of the “system”, I wait in line, I take a number, and I try to be patient while waiting for my turn. My point is simple really, the men and women, active or veteran, who are seen within the walls of a VA hospital are there because they have paid in one way, form, or fashion, that many of us have no way of understanding, whether it is mental or physical or a combination of both, because unless we are in that person’s shoes we can never know.

Everyday I grow a little more impatient with people who, in my opinion, are very self centered. Why? Let’s use a very recent example which happened to me back in April. My wife and I had pulled into a very crowded parking lot of a local supermarket on a Sunday around the time the local churches have been letting out. We maneuver around the parking lot in my Hummer H1 looking for a spot. My wife sees a handicap space has opened up and has told me where to go. As I signal that I am turning in to the vehicles around me a woman in a brand new Cadillac Escalade comes down the row against traffic, meaning she was coming down the one way lane the wrong way, and attempts to cut me off and take the spot. So, I approached her Escalade rather aggressively to see if she would back off. To my surprise, a 20ish woman jumps out of the driver’s door yelling and screaming at me to get the fuck out of her parking space. Pause a moment. Upon review of her vehicle I see she still has dealer paper plates a a red handicap tag (in Texas a red tag is very temporary) hanging from her mirror. For ten minutes she yelled at me, cursed at me, and scolded me. Then, then she showed her ass by asking why in the fuck I was even trying to park there since I don’t even have handicap plates or a placard. It is true, everything she said, except the fact that I have DV (disabled veteran handicap logoed) license plates. She had no idea what they are and proceeds to lecture me (the person with visible scarring on both knees, one being from a knee replacement) on the purpose and design of a handicap parking space. Since I was in the space, since I was done talking, I locked up the H1, and proceeded to go inside to go shopping. Meanwhile, she calls the police so they can have my vehicle towed (which never happened). When we came out about 25 minutes later she had moved her vehicle out of the drive so others could pass. Except now she was in the backseat of the police cruiser screaming at the officer. The verdict? She was in possession of an expired tag (new date was written over the old), her drivers license was already suspended, and the temporary dealer tags were also expired by two months. She was arrested and her Escalade was towed. That’s the end of what I know or want to know about her.

Is there a moral to this story? Who really knows. I do know that before she tried to be a fraud, a cheat, and a liar, that should actually know what in the fuck she is yelling about. I have no time for people like her. If she would have just asked me to let her have the spot politely it would have been all hers, no explanation needed because I wasn’t in such a great hurry and my doctor says a little walking on occasion won’t kill me. I’m easy like that. Blow up in my face and I make it hard because I will just walk away from the bullshit. I love people, especially the clueless ones because they make the world go round. I wondered, after the fact, why she had so many things going wrong for her and all I came up with is, to me and in my own opinion, that she had a poor and negative attitude. Personally, I doubt she will ever get her shit together and be a functional adult in society, but that is just my opinion based on one brief encounter with her. How can I really now anyways.

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