Guide For Inquiring Civilian Minds

Task & Purpose recently published an article for soldiers, issuing advice on how to handle civilians who ask the dreaded, “Did you ever kill anyone?” question.  While their advice is sound on how to handle the situation from the view point of someone being asked, it does little to offer advice towards friends and family of current and former service members.

Civilians are understandably curious as to what really happens in combat, it is not something we have ever experienced, or can ever fully comprehend, but when you care about someone who has served, there is somewhat of a self-imposed expectation to try to understand. The hardest part of that need to understand is trying to start the conversation, knowing what to ask, and in this case what not to ask.

While some soldiers may be willing to divulge this intimate detail to their nearest and dearest, for most service members who have seen combat, this question simply goes beyond trying to understand straight into “none of your damn business.” Although the topic is not completely off the table for some, USMC Veteran, Mr. Veritas summed it up perfectly saying,

“That is a rude, private & personal question to ask of any war zone warrior.”

So how should civilians handle the topic of a loved one’s service?

The most important thing is to be respectful. Keep in mind that anything a soldier does share should be taken much like a story in history class, it is not for you to judge, question motives on, or use for ammunition in later conversation.

For friends or acquaintances, it’s probably best to lead with something like, “So you were in the Army? What was that like?” If they want to share they will, if not they won’t, and that should really be the end of it.

If you are close with a soldier however; sometimes that just doesn’t get it, and generally it’s ok to be a little more forward. Let them know you are interested, ask if they are willing to discuss with you, and let them guide the conversation for the most part.

If there’s something you feel like you need to know, even the dreaded “kill“ question, make sure you ask if it is alright to ask.  Do NOT just assume or put them on the spot. Remember that there are parts of service and particularly combat that no warrior is proud of and they may not be willing to confide. It is not a personal affront towards you.

Finally, keep in mind that whatever is shared, regardless of relationship or circumstance is for your knowledge only, and is not to be shared unless specific consent was given. 

Independence Day

There has been so much lately about the state of the Union, questions about equality, government, and the rights of the people, that I can’t help but wonder what Independence really means in modern America. For me Independence is the freedom to make decisions for myself based on my own knowledge and belief system, to question my leadership, and try to make a difference in the world. But the word Independence I found means different things for different people.

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In polling some of my Twitter followers I found out what Independence means to them.

the ability to openly express opinions without government retaliation. It allows the wellspring of creativity to flow.

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Although the definitions of Independence may vary, one thing that has remained consistent throughout the 4th of July posts, is the gratefulness Americans feel towards those who have fought for and defended our freedom. It is in that continuing spirit that I would like to personally thank the men and women who gave their oath to preserving the freedom this nation. It is your dedication, your sacrifices that keep America strong. Thank you for all that you have given. 

Modern Day Militia

Why Armed Rebellion is Not Functional Solution in 2015

So you’re pissed about the recent events and decisions made by the President and Supreme Court right? That’s completely understandable. In fact, now you’ve decided to form an army and take up arms in defense of your beliefs correct? That is a terrible idea people, and I’ll tell you why.

Sure you and your buddies can recruit other angry citizens with stockpiled guns and ammo via Facebook, twitter, and for you old school protestors, the telephone and town hall meetings; however, even if you do manage to get a significant following, the chances are that you’ve already broadcast your intent of TREASON to your enemy. Even if you and your cohorts have miraculously managed to not get yourselves arrested by this stage, have you even considered who your enemy is?

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It’s easy to deceive yourselves into thinking the enemy you’re saddling up to fight is the president, or those posh bastards on Capitol Hill, but let’s be real for a moment. The enemy you’ll be facing on the field of battle is the U.S. armed forces. The current active duty roster, not including reserve units, is over 1,300,000 strong; they are all trained and ready for action.
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How does your training stack up? Sure you’re proficient enough with your Glock to hit center mass every time at the range, you might even be an experienced hunter who has maxed out your deer limits the last 5 years. But come on Rambo, do you really have what it takes to stand in the trenches against a team of Navy SEALs or Army Rangers with the best training and equipment the United States can provide?

Army Rangers    Navy SEALs BUDS Training    Navy SEALs Defense    Army Ranger TrainingSpeaking of equipment, do you have your lifted 4×4 loaded up yet? Strapped on your AR? Beautiful, just beautiful, that’s sure to handle the arsenal of armored vehicles, tanks, 50 cals and M4’s available to the armed forces just fine. No problem there at all.

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In all seriousness, your makeshift militia is a fool’s errand that can only end in arrest, or bloodshed and complete tragedy. I advise you to set your sights on reform, not rebellion, and take up pens and picket signs not arms. Make sure you have exhausted all peaceful solutions before you sacrifice yourself and your friends on the altar of your beliefs. 

A Little Sunday Rebellion

On Friday, Apple began reinstating some confederate flag images back into the App Store. “Only games that use the Confederate flag in ‘offensive and mean-spirited’ ways will be affected by the App Store policy modification.” Furthermore, the United States Military has also confirmed that they will not be removing Confederate flag images from the pentagon, bases, or military personnel.

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As stated by the Military Times, a “ban without an educational initiative, one that simply associates the battle flag with swastikas and other racist imagery would needlessly and predictably inspire more controversy,” due to the numerous meanings the flag has taken on over time. “For many Americans, the flag came to represent the South as a region. For many white southerners today, it still symbolizes regional pride. For others, it represents a particular interpretation of southern history. For still others, it represents rural life. And for many others, the flag represents rebellion against authority, whether motivated by politics or simple mischief.” They go on to report that, “service members may embrace it for any of those reasons” and that banning the flag as I’m sure ya’ll have undoubtedly realized by now, “would be ‘controversial.’”

I ask that people consider the path taken by forward thinking and historically revolutionary companies such as Apple, along with the historically stable and proud U.S. armed services who sacrifice their lives in order to protect our freedoms, and contact companies such as Walmart and Amazon who seek to villainize merchandise instead of the horrible acts of terror and hatred that sparked their knee-jerk reactions. 

Something More to Celebrate

Today represents the birth of not only the symbol of our nation, but also, the birth of the oldest group of brave men and women who defend her.

In this 2013 article, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Rodcay describes the importance of Flag Day based on it’s symbols of freedom, liberty, and the American way of life.

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Flag Day recognizes the adoption of the American Flag on June 14, 1777; the same day in which two years prior the U.S. Army was established.

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This year the Army celebrates its 240th birthday, and 238 years of defending the flag whose holiday it shares. 

Memorial Day

Over the years Memorial Day has held many different meanings from the kickoff of summer, to a test run of 4th of July fireworks, to an excuse to get my boyfriend in uniform. But despite its sometimes superficial celebrations, it is crucial not to lose the true meaning of Memorial Day; to honor those who have sacrificed everything for our freedom. To recognize them and their families left behind as the true heroes of our nation.

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1983 – 2009
Army – Drake M.
1981-2006
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1987-2007

my friends

Thank you for your courage, your honor, your sacrifice. You are forever in our hearts. 

Come Sail Away

Fleet Week officially kicked off on Wednesday 5/22/15 with the parade of ships, photographed from Ft. Hamilton by  our very own SGM. James, and will continue on through Memorial Day Weekend until Tuesday, when the ships depart. According to this article on the Navy’s official website, “Nearly 1,800 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating this year” for the 27th Annual Fleet Week Festivities.

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This year’s festivities include ship tours, dive demonstrations, Aviation displays at local schools, and much more (full schedule). More photos of the Parade of Ships from James are available on the Some Gave All Blog Facebook

You Say Hero, I Say Traitor

There has been so much controversy surrounding Eric Snowden, and whether he is a hero or a traitor, that he has actually become a subject of study in one of my classes on communications. In fact, when asked this very question in class, hero or traitor, I was shocked to find I was the only person to answer unequivocally that Eric Snowden is a traitor.

In the TED talk with Eric Snowden, Snowden admits that “We do a lot of good things in the intelligence community, things that need to be done, and things that help everyone.” The mission of the intelligence community “is to collect and convey the essential information the President and members of the policymaking, law enforcement, and military communities require to execute their appointed duties,” a function critical to the safety and security of the United States of America, and its civilian population as well as those law enforcement and military communities directly tasked with our protection.
 
Unfortunately, when Eric Snowden released the information, supposedly in the most responsible way,” he put the entire nation in danger in order to reduce the risk to himself. According to Snowden, he did not take his information “to Congress, [because] there were no laws, there were no legal protections for a private employee, a contractor in intelligence like [himself].” Instead of following proper channels and escalating perceived issues in the system through his superiors, or through congress, Snowden decided to release classified information “by working with journalists, by giving all of my information back to the American people, rather than trusting [himself] to make the decisions about publication.” But Eric Snowden has made decisions about publication. 
 
As referenced by Chris Anderson during his TED Talk interview of Snowden, Snowden has allegedly “stolen 1.7 million documents. It seems only a few hundred of them have been shared with journalists so far.” These unknown documents could provide critical information as to the reasoning behind NSA actions, as well as more critical details that could jeopardize undercover operations across the United States and throughout the world. The leak of information creates a security risk to the intelligence infrastructure, and to the very civilian population Snowden says he was trying to protect.
 
Sadly, the American people are not the only ones this information was released to. By choosing such a public channel for release, Snowden chose to give classified information about the interworking of our intelligence community to the world at large, including foreign governments, and opposing intelligence organizations. It is this action that solidifies Eric Snowden as a traitor under U.S. Code 2381 on Treason: “Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere is guilty of treason.” 

Furthermore, Snowden engages in clever word games when describing the impact the intelligence community has had on terrorism stating that they have “never stopped a single terrorist attack that was imminent in the United States.” Although there is no direct mention of the NSA in this article about a foiled act of terrorism on the United States Capitol, the article clearly explains how an FBI sting operation used Facebook in order to prevent an action where Amine El-Khalifi went “so far as to don what he thought was a bomb-laden vest.” It is interesting to note that this case, where El-Khalifi was talking to undercover agents might not be classified as imminent within the intelligence community because he was not actually in contact with a terrorist cell, and therefore, did not pose a direct threat. 

A Few Honorable Men

Last week, I was honored to be invited to several events celebrating Medal of Honor recipients in Gainesville, Texas. These events are part of a 14 year tradition in the city of Gainesville in which Medal of Honor recipients visit community schools speaking with students as well as other events throughout the community. I was honored to be able to volunteer at this year’s fish fry on On Thursday, April 9th, as well as attend the MOH Parade and Autograph session on Saturday, April 11th, where I had a chance to speak to and personally thank 16 of these brave men on a very individual level.
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See More Pictures On The Some Gave All Facebook Page
It was a heartwarming experience, seeing people gather from communities all over North Texas to pay tribute to the courage and bravery of those who have served, not only to the Recipients, but to the veterans, active duty, law enforcement, and fire departments who took part in the parade. Seeing such enthusiasm and dedication from so many people of all ages was really a testament to why Gainesville has been awarded the title of most patriotic city.
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Although these events truly benefit everyone they touch, real profit of this event lays in the children who attend Gainesville schools. Having a 14 year history in Gainesville, means that Seniors graduating in 2015 have had an opportunity to meet with and talk to these heroes since Kindergarten. They have grown up with access to some of the very best role models this country has to offer. Although they may not realize it until they are older, this students are given such a unique opportunity that will hopefully shape future generations.
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While this was my first experience with this event, I look forward to making it a part of my own personal tradition, and hope that the tradition will spread to other communities across the nation for years to come.