“Welcome Home” Trailer

From YouTube:

“Welcome Home” is a new series being produced by Sleeping Dog Productions, Inc. It tells the story of Viet Nam Veterans, from all branches of the service. It is scheduled for release in 2015, the 40th anniversary year of the end of the War. It is a thank you — and a welcome home that is long, long, overdue.

For updates on the series visit our website, www.sleepingdogtv.com

Semper Share:

Do you still think of Vietnam?

by Kerry “Doc” Pardue

A couple of years ago someone asked me if I still thought about Vietnam. I nearly laughed in their face. How do you stop thinking about it? Every day for the past forty years, I wake up with it- I go to bed with it. This was my response:

“Yeah, I think about it. I can’t stop thinking about it. I never will. But, . I’ve also learned to live with it. I’m comfortable with the memories. I’ve learned to stop trying to forget and learned to embrace it. It just doesn’t scare me anymore.”

A lot of my “brothers” haven’t been so lucky. For them the memories are too painful, their sense of loss too great. My sister told me of a friend she has whose husband was in the Nam. She asks this guy when he was there.

Here’s what he said, “Just last night.” It took my sister a while to figure out what he was talking about. Just Last Night. Yeah, I was in the Nam. When? Just last night, before I went to sleep, on my way to work this morning, and over my lunch hour. Yeah, I was there

The Wall
My sister says I’m not the same brother who went to Vietnam. My wife says I won’t let people get close to me, not even her.They are probably both right. Ask a vet about making friends in Nam. It was risky. Why? Because we were in the business of death, and death was with us all the time. It wasn’t the death of, “If I die before I wake.” This was the real thing. The kind boys scream for their mothers. The kind that lingers in your mind and becomes more real each time you cheat it. You don’t want to make a lot of friends when the possibility of dying is that real, that close. When you do, friends become a liability.

A guy named Bob Flanigan was my friend. Bob Flanigan is dead. I put him in a body bag one sunny day, April 29, 1969. We’d been talking, only a few minutes before he was shot, about what we were going to do when we got back to the world. Now, this was a guy who had come in country the same time as me. A guy who was loveable and generous. He had blue eyes and sandy blond hair.

When he talked, it was with a soft drawl. I loved this guy like the brother I never had. But, I screwed up. I got too close to him. I broke one of the unwritten rules of war. DON”T GET CLOSE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO DIE. You hear vets use the term “buddy” when they refer to a guy they spent the war with. “Me and this buddy of mine.”

Friend sounds too intimate, doesn’t it? “Friend” calls up images of being close. If he’s a friend, then you are going to be hurt if he dies, and war hurts enough without adding to the pain. Get close; get hurt. It’s as simple as that. In war you learn to keep people at that distance my wife talks about. You become good at it, that forty years after the war, you still do it without thinking. You won’t allow yourself to be vulnerable again.

My wife knows two people who can get into the soft spots inside me-my daughters. I know it bothers her that they can do this.It’s not that I don’t love my wife. I do. She’s put up with a lot from me.She’ll tell you that when she signed for better or worse, she had no idea there was going to be so much of the latter. But with my daughters it’s different. My girls are mine. They’ll always be my kids. Not marriage, not distance, not even death can change that.They are something on this earth that can never be taken away from me. I belong to them. Nothing can change that. I can have an ex-wife; but my girls can never have an ex-father. There’s the differance. I can still see the faces, though they all seem to have the same eyes. When I think of us, I always see a line of “dirty grunts”sitting on a paddy dike. We’re caught in the first gray silver between darkness and light. That first moment when we know we’ve survived another night, and the business of staying alive for one more day is about to begin. There was so much hope in that brief space of time. It’s what we used to pray for. “One more day, God. One more day.”

And I can hear our conversations as if they’d only just been spoken I still hear the way we sounded. The hard cynical jokes, our morbid senses of humor. We were scared to death of dying, and tried our best not to show it.

I recall the smells, too. Like the way cordite hangs on the air after a fire-fight. Or the pungent odor of rice paddy mud. So different from the black dirt of Iowa. The mud of Nam smells ancient, somehow. Like it’s always been there. And I’ll never forget the way blood smells, sticky and drying on my hands. I spent a long night that way once. The memory isn’t going anywhere.

I remember how the night jungle appears almost dreamlike as pilot of a Cessna buzzez overhead, dropping parachute flares until morning. That artificial sun would flicker and make shadows run through the jungle. It was worse than not being able to see what was out there sometimes. I remember once looking at the man next to me as a flare floated overhead. The shadows around his eyes were so deep that it looked like his eyes were gone. I reached over and touched him on the arm; without looking at me he touched my hand. “I know man. I know.” That’s what he said. It was a human moment. Two guys a long way from home and scared to death.

God, I loved those guys. I hurt every time one of them died. We all did. Despite our posturing. Despite our desire to stay disconnected, we couldn’t help ourselves. I know why Tim O’ Brien writes his stories. I know what gives Bruce Weigle the words to create poems so honest I cry at their horrible beauty. It’s love. Love for those guys we shared the experience with.

We did our jobs like good soldiers, and we tried our best not to become as hard as our surroundings.You want to know what is frightening. It’s a nineteen-year-old-boy who’s had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It’s a boy who, despite all the things he’s been taught,knows that he likes it. It’s a nineteen-year-old who’s just lost a friend, and is angry and scared and, determined that, “some*@#*s gonna pay”.To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling.

As I write this, I have a picture in front of me. It’s of two young men. On their laps are tablets. One is smoking a cigarette. Both stare without expression at the camera. They’re writing letters. Staying in touch with places they rather be. Places and people they hope to see again. The picture shares space in a frame with one of my wife.. She doesn’t mind. She knows she’s been included in special company. She knows I’ll always love those guys who shared that part of my life, a part she never can. And she understands how I feel about the ones I know are out there yet. The ones who still answer the question, “When were you in Vietnam?”

“Hey, man. I was there just last night.”

~Kerry “Doc” Pardue

Thanks to Ben Cascio for forwarding

Share this article with others so they understand why many of today’s veteran’s behave the way they do be it Vietnam or other conflicts, this is a common thread shared by all.

Semper Share:

An Amazing Pool of Talent at an Employer’s Fingertips

In combat, a sniper’s goal is to become a needle in a haystack. Marksmanship is only a piece of the puzzle. Whether I was in the Sierra Nevada Mountains or the deserts of Iraq and Afghanistan, stealth was not just a tool — it was the objective. Before I became a Marine sniper, I spent months learning to tread softly and blend in to my environment, skills that have saved my life more than once.

Dakota Meyer
Dakota Meyer
When I transitioned out of the military, however, it didn’t take long to see that my objective needed to change. To be successful as a civilian, I had to go in the opposite direction of my training — I needed to make myself standout.

With less than eight percent of Americans having served in the armed forces, your military service already makes your resume unique. Now you have to make sure it gets in front of the right people. Standing out — not stealth — should be the new strategy of every veteran and transitioning service member searching for a career after the military. How can an employer hire you if they can’t find you?

Employers are looking for men and women who have proven skills like leadership, discipline, and problem-solving. Who better than the men and women who have served in uniform? I’ve spent over a year now working with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes and Toyota to get my fellow veterans hired through job fairs and online efforts. This means that over the course of that year, I’ve been in numerous rooms with countless people whose only job is to recruit veterans.

With this in mind, our team launched the Personal Branding Resume Engine, an online tool that helps veterans market all of the skills they gained in the military to civilian employers. But helping veterans brand themselves for employers was only the first part of our effort. The endgame is to connect these men and women with the recruiters that are searching for them. Well, I am proud to report that this week we’ve taken the next step forward by introducing a first-of-its-kind, free employer search feature as part of the Resume Engine. This new option allows veteran users to add their completed resumes to a searchable database. Companies looking to fill open positions can then search that resume bank for candidates that fit their job qualifications, at absolutely no cost.

As a veteran, I know that the talent of my fellow servicemembers is without question. But as a business owner, I have found that it can be not just challenging, but also expensive, to find good candidates. One of the primary reasons I started my own business — Dakota Meyer Enterprises — was to put veterans back to work. Through my advocacy and experience though, I’ve found that it’s not always an option for a small business owner to close up shop and attend a hiring fair or to put critical cash into purchasing access to job banks. By making the Resume Engine’s new search feature free-of-charge, we’re hoping to level the playing field and create opportunity for businesses of every size to have access to this incredible pool of talent.

When President Obama presented me with the Medal of Honor in 2011, I felt like my Commander-in-Chief was giving me a new charge. I firmly believe I have a responsibility to help as many of my fellow veterans and their families succeed after their years of sacrifice. I’ve said time and time again — if you want to help a veteran, hire one. But now I find myself saying something equally true, if not more so — if you want to help your business, hire a veteran. I encourage veterans and employers to check out the latest version of the Resume Engine and let’s keep working together to make a difference in the employment issues facing our military families and our great country.

Semper Share:

Brendan Marrocco

Brendan Marrocco was the first soldier to survive losing all four limbs in the Iraq War. He’s a hero and he’s tweeting; follow him!

Semper Share:

Beyond The Bumper Sticker: 10 Ways Americans Can Support the Military Family

by Erin Whitehead, Marine Corps spouse

Yesterday, many Americans paused to honor those who have served and continue serving in our nation’s military. Flags were flown and prayers were said in civilian homes and backyards around the country.

But because of the nature of our lives, the military spouse community has a special understanding of the meaning behind Memorial Day. For us, it is not simply another day off work, a chance to BBQ, or the opportunity to save big bucks on a mattress or new car. It is about honoring those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country… a sacrifice that can keep us awake at night with worry.

Sometimes, it feels as though the “civilian” community just does not get what the holiday is really about, which can feel frustrating and make us feel like we are in this alone. But the reality is that many Americans do understand the true meaning of Memorial Day. They do want to support our troops and understand, on some level, the hardships that they and their families have endured over the past 10 years of war.

But unless they’ve actually served or been a member of a military family, it’s really hard to truly “get it.” They want to do something to make sure our troops and families know how much they are appreciated… but how do they help when they don’t know what is needed?

It’s a two-way street. We have to be willing to share in what areas we can use support. We asked our social media community to share what things they think Americans could do to help out or simply show their appreciation for the sacrifices of service members and their families. We hope you will share this list with those civilians who want to show their support…because there really are a lot of them out there.

10 Ways Americans Can Support the Military Family

10) Take the time to learn what our life is really like.

There are many misconceptions about our lifestyle. The list is a mile long. Some of the most frustrating are that our spouses can return home for important events (holidays, births, all family emergencies), that once they return from deployment everything goes back to normal, and that we make a lot of money. But unless you know a family and can ask for their perspective, how do you learn more? There is no shortage of blogs written by military spouses, and they’re easy to find with a simple Google search. There are also many organizations that service military families—again, very easy to find online. And of course, you can visit www.baseguide.com to read our articles, follow us on social media, or subscribe to the magazine.

READ THE REST OF THE ARTICLE HERE:
http://www.baseguide.com/Articles/Article.aspx?title=beyond-the-bumper-sticker-10-ways-americans-can-support-the-military-family&page=1

Semper Share:

That Smell: A Wounded Marine Reflects on Veterans Day

by James Brobyn

If you asked me what I remember most about my time as a U.S. Marine in Iraq, my answer would probably be a surprise.

I remember the smells more than anything. To this day, I can still smell the Iraqi towns and local foods, which trigger fond memories of exploring a new culture with my fellow Marines. Less pleasant smells include hydraulic fluid leaking from my Light Armored Vehicle and a platoon full of Marines after not showering for 45 days.

Those smells are harmless. The pungent odors of dead and decaying bodies, blended with the strangely sweet smell of explosive residue, are not. Years later, these smells still trigger guilt, bad dreams and regret.

Some people don’t ask me to explain why these odors elicit such a visceral emotion. Perhaps they are unsure or even afraid of what I might say next. But for those who want to hear what I experienced in combat, I will always continue. It’s a story I want to tell.

Read the entire article:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-brobyn/that-smell-a-wounded-mari_b_2113297.html

Semper Share:

Taliban Suicide Attack

What our troops are up against.

This video was filmed by the Taliban and shows just how sophisticated the Taliban is getting day by day. They now have and use all kinds of modern day technologies. While the Taliban claimed credit for the attack on FOB Salerno, it was likely executed by the Haqqani Network, a Taliban subgroup that is linked to al Qaeda and which operates extensively in Khost province. The Haqqani Network rarely produces propaganda tapes and allows Voice of Jihad to highlight the group’s attacks. The Haqqani Network has launched multiple complex attacks on US and Afghan bases in Khost and neighboring Paktia and Paktika provinces.


[Military.com]

Semper Share:

Soldiers Deck of Cards

A Veterans tribute with just a pack of cards and a beautiful ending.

Semper Share:

CPL P letter to POTUS

Via Corporal Kevin P.

Thanks to overwhelming support, I have decided to release this. I wrote a letter to the President! Tell me what you guys think:

“January 25, 2012

The Honorable Mr. Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Kevin. I am twenty three years old and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. I served two tours in Afghanistan with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. I am writing to you to inform you of the current state of the Department of Veterans Affairs as seen from a veteran’s perspective, and to increase public awareness and support for veterans. Although our nation is facing many major issues today, the media and politicians are barely recognizing veterans as an issue this election year even though this election takes place during the longest war in United States history. Considering my own experiences with Veterans Affairs and the experiences of my fellow veterans, this is absolutely unacceptable.

Every aspect in which I have dealt with Veterans Affairs so far, compensation, education, and healthcare, has been completely inadequate. I have been waiting for my compensation claim for over one year. When I call the VA they have no updated information on my claim for me. When I check the e-benefits website it still tells me my attention is needed for an issue that I corrected seven months ago. For the GI Bill, I was told it would 100% cover a flight school program I wanted to take. I was guaranteed this by the VA hotline and the VA representative at my school. I moved halfway across the country from Chicago to San Diego only to be told I would have to wait an additional four months before the program would be covered. Three months and three weeks later I was told the program would not be covered by the GI Bill under any circumstances. I had no income and had to move back to Chicago. I wasted four months and over $15,000 in moving and living expenses. I considered attempting to sue Veterans Affairs for my financial losses, but I knew any money I was awarded surely wouldn’t come from executives paychecks, but that it would come from the funds used to help veterans. What is most troubling is an article I read in the military.com news from November 15, 2011 titled ‘Vet Organizations Hit VA Executive Bonuses’ in which it states, “Carl Blake, national legislative director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America, said the VA paid out bonuses averaging about $14,000 to some 240 Senior Executive Service employees last year.”

Healthcare is the worst of all. With the little income I am currently receiving from unemployment and the GI Bill while I attend a community college I do not wish to go to but need the money, I cannot afford any health or dental insurance whatsoever. The majority of my income goes to my mother who was laid off two years ago. When it comes to service connected issues, to say that nobody at the VA cares is completely unfair. I have met several amazing VA employees who have helped me tremendously. However, it is difficult to find many people who actually care. For example, during my PTSD exam less than one month after discharge from active duty (two months after returning from my second deployment to Afghanistan), I was handed a one page questionnaire by a VA psychiatrist. After filling it out, the psychiatrist proceeded to spend less than 5 minutes speaking with me. For the most part, they simply repeated the questions I had just filled out. I was told although I showed many symptoms of PTSD, I did not show enough for a diagnosis. I was then prescribed psychiatric medication after specifically saying I did not want psychiatrics. Based on this experience, and the experiences of fellow veterans I have kept in touch with, the VA healthcare system is more concerned with prescribing drugs than helping veterans. These drugs are often prescribed in experimental combinations to people already suffering from mental illness. It is no wonder suicide among veterans has skyrocketed. Although I did not take any of the medications, I would have taken my own life several months ago if it were not for one thing: A very close friend of mine named Jonathan Porto did not come back from Afghanistan in 2010. He left behind his wife and newborn daughter. I can think of nothing more selfish than to take my own life when I know he would give anything to have his back.

Like most United States Marines I did not enlist for the benefits. They were nothing more than an added bonus to something I already knew I wanted to do regardless. To be promised no benefits would not have changed my decision to join the military whatsoever. However, if I’m going to be promised these benefits, I’m going to make post-military plans that depend on them. By not receiving the benefits that I was promised, my plans were clearly severely and adversely affected. But that’s okay, I am not concerned with my own problems right now. I will adapt, overcome, and succeed. My concern is for the next generation of veterans that will follow me. I absolutely refuse to let the Marines I trained be discharged from active duty only to face the same issues I am now facing. It is my responsibility and my duty to do everything in my power to make sure future veterans have the smoothest and easiest possible transition from the military to civilian life, and to make sure that they are taken care of as well as possible. It is the responsibility and duty for every veteran to do this. Like the “Bonus Army” that assembled in Washington, D.C. in the summer of 1932 over World War One veteran’s benefits, I urge the public whether you’re a veteran or not, protect those that protect freedom and individual’s rights. With social media and today’s technology, veterans can communicate and organize like never before in history. Your voice and vote CAN make a real difference.

Yours faithfully,

Corporal Kevin P, USMC”

Semper Share: