Category Archives: Service

Why Think For Yourself?

I graduated high school in 1971. Like many of my peers, and as I’ve listened to other people around that age, we don’t necessarily have a life plan when we’re that young. It’s not unusual for many to think recklessly, or think they have a long time to live. Hopefully, most had enough time and experience, sensible ideas took over their thoughts.

Not knowing what I wanted to do long term, I saw a need to make a commitment and start out with a set of steps that could enhance my future. I wasn’t terribly patriotic, however I saw the divide which had been brewing for some time. That divide was primarily over the Vietnam war, but it also included civil rights, and a host of other grievances people had. I saw many of my contemporaries believe their government had wronged them and some would protest, while others refused to stand at high school football games when the flag was presented and a pledge of allegiance might be recited.

Standard boot camp picture in dress blues

MCRD San Diego 1971

I was already forming an opinion about the world around me, and knew I had limits to my sphere of influence. I knew I could make choices about my own life, which reflected how I thought. I knew actions were far more important than rhetoric, and in the summer, I enlisted in the Marine Corps.

I didn’t really know what to expect. I entered without support from my mother. She thought I would be killed in Vietnam. Her brother, my uncle had a son that became a Marine about 10 years before me, and my uncle said I wouldn’t make it. With those ringing endorsements, coupled with a high school friend who said he was going in with me and backed out, I had my concerns. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my own abilities.

Me - recruit side profile

As a new scared recruit

What followed were 13 weeks of learning more about myself, than I knew before going in. I found out I could do a lot more physically and mentally than previously imagined. I owe some of that to a Staff Sergeant and lead Drill Instructor. He kicked, punched and choked me into becoming a Marine. I know that sounds terribly harsh to those who never had the experience, but there’s more to it than just that description. Physical challenges, and the choice knowing you can drop out if you can’t “hack it”, were actually motivational.

Over the next four years, I was awarded honors by being first in my class. I gained promotions and given greater responsibility. I look back and recall how fortunate I was from this experience.

comm-elec-school-marines-b

Training was ongoing throughout my time. The Marine in the lower right didn’t have much longer in the Corps at that weight.

That winter of 1972, I returned home to Minnesota. I ran smack into that divide of opinions over the military, with or without the uniform on. I even had a car full of young men pour out to attack me while waiting in my car at a traffic light.

Caravan of Fools – John Prine
Love and devotion
LP-record-imageDeep as any ocean
Don’t play by anybody’s rules
With your carousel of horses
And your own foreseen forces
You’re running with the caravan of fools

baseball_dirty_1This blind anger by people who didn’t know me personally, oozed its way around me and others who were in the military. A real eye opener was when I volunteered for color guard duty and was 1 of 3 Marines in a brief pre-game flag presentation. We marched 3 abreast around the inside perimeter of Anaheim stadium. The center Marine, a sergeant carried the colors, I and one other Marine flanked him, carrying ceremonial M-14 rifles on our shoulders.

While passing the “fans”, threw things they had in their hands. We were paid very little salary each month. All I could think of, when some of the food or drink cups hit my uniform, I have to pay to clean this after these bums are finished. It made me more angry than humiliated.

There was a little comeuppance that day. The final score:
Milwaukee Brewers 4 California Angels 2

anti-military-protestors-pentagon-67

These foolish people were simply following the prevailing mood, and what they saw others do, in the news. It caused them to become pawns in a routine game of public manipulation through peers and the Television news.

This mindless hatred lasted for several years after I was separated from active duty. People swore at me, assigned behavior and activities to me which I never performed. Perhaps, as the saying goes, time wounds all heels, and I moved forward from one opportunity to the next. The mood of the country changed, primarily led by TV news and the attitudes from peers.

An all volunteer military went a long way towards this change in attitude. People started to recognize there were a lot of young people performing duties and responsibilities which many of them either couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  Some of our national leaders were former protestors. Even their opinion changed when it suited them.

Every American ought to find a way to serve, somehow. It doesn’t have to be in the military. I like the idea that everybody ought to give back something.” – John Kerry

He said that, among the lessons from Vietnam, was that “Americans must always treat returning veterans with dignity and respect regardless of whether a war was popular or unpopular.”

mike_marines_cap_aThat anti-military attitude has changed about 180°.  If I’m wearing a baseball style cap with the Marine Corps logo on it, or people see my license plates with veteran status, I usually hear something quite positive. I don’t live in California, perhaps the prevailing mood there is different.

There’s another populist idea promulgated on Americans that those who have been disadvantaged in some manner of our society, need a wealthy spokesperson to aid their cause. I’m not impressed.

Marines_color_guard_sacrifice_meme

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Why so Much Conformity in the News Media?

There’s not much choice when it comes to your daily news diet. Most International and national news is aggregated through Associated Press (AP) and Reuters.
Cutbacks at rival United Press International in 1993 left the AP as the United States’ primary news service, although UPI still produces and distributes stories and photos daily. Other less often used English-language news services, such as the BBC, Reuters and the English-language service of Agence France-Presse, are based outside the United States.
[CLICK ON THE LINKS TO FIND OUT MORE]

Associated Press is a Not-for-profit Cooperative.[1] Steven R. Swartz is the Chairman. Gary Pruitt is the President and CEO. He was the CEO, president, and chairman of the board of the McClatchy Company. The AP has counted the vote in U.S. elections since 1848, including national, state and local races down to the legislative level in all 50 states, along with key ballot measures. AP collects and verifies returns in every county, parish, city and town across the U.S., and declares winners in over 5,000 contests.
Corporate Headquarters
200 Liberty Street
New York City, New York

Steven R. Swartz became president and chief executive officer of Hearst, one of the nation’s largest diversified media, information and services companies, on June 1, 2013.

Hearst’s major interests include ownership in cable television networks such as A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime and ESPN; global ratings agency Fitch Group; Hearst Health, a group of medical information and services businesses; 31 television stations such as WCVB in Boston and KCRA in Sacramento, Calif.; newspapers such as the Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle and Albany Times Union, more than 300 magazines around the world including Cosmopolitan, ELLE, Harper’s BAZAAR and Car & Driver; digital services businesses such as iCrossing and KUBRA; and investments in emerging digital and video companies such as Verizon Hearst Media Partners, Complex, BuzzFeed and VICE.

In 1994, London-based Associated Press Television (APTV) was founded to provide agency news material to television broadcasters. In 1998, AP purchased Worldwide Television News (WTN) from the ABC News division of The Walt Disney Company, Nine Network Australia and ITN London.

In April 2013, AP stated that it had dropped the term “illegal immigrant” from its stylebook. AP follows ABC, NBC, and CNN in not using the term. Jose Antonio Vargas commended The Associated Press for its decision.

Washington, D.C. bureau reporter Christopher Newton, an AP reporter since 1994, was fired by AP in September 2002 after he was accused of fabricating sources since 2000, including at least 40 people and organizations. Prior to his firing, Newton had been focused on writing about federal law-enforcement while based at the Justice Department. Some of the nonexistent agencies quoted in his stories included “Education Alliance”, the “Institute for Crime and Punishment in Chicago”, “Voice for the Disabled”, and “People for Civil Rights”.

Reuters, the news and media division of Thomson Reuters, is the world’s largest international multimedia news provider, reaching billions of people every day.  Michael Friedenberg has been President of Reuters News and Media Operations at Thomson Reuters Corporation since December 3, 2018. Previously, he served as global CEO of IDG Communications, a media, data and services firm, leading the company across 147 countries.
Corporate Headquarters
333 Bay Street
Toronto, Ontario M5H 2R2 Canada

A Few Billionaires Own America’s News Media Companies

In May, 2012 Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Company announced the purchase of 63 newspapers, including 23 dailies, from the debt-ridden Media General Company. The transaction was a course reversal for Buffett, who earlier had said he wouldn’t buy newspapers, and created a major new player in the industry. It also left Media General-whose history with newspapers dates back to the mid-1800’s-with only one remaining daily, the Tampa Tribune, which many predict it will still try to sell.

Prominent journalists like ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and former Washington Post editor and now Vice President Len Downie serve on boards of operations that receive funding from George Soros. This despite the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethical code stating: ”avoid all conflicts real or perceived.”

6 Corporations own almost all of the TV and Cable Outlets. There used to be almost 90.
{ This is an update to the graphic linked in this post. }
Verizon owns AOL & Huffington Post
Comcast purchased NBC from GE.

illusion_of_choice
Have you ever committed a “HATcrime?” It’s the new crime of wearing a hat that “triggers” deranged people.

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[1] One primary difference between a cooperative corporation and a tax-exempt nonprofit corporation is how money flows back into the organization. A tax-exempt nonprofit organization cannot distribute profits to members or investors, while a cooperative corporation generally distributes profits based on members’ participation.

A Day • A Weekend to Remember

General_George_Patton_bw After working outside and driving many miles to help some friends today, I came home a man in severe need of a scrub.

I’m grateful for the little things that add up to bring a pleasant close to the end of a day. A good hot shower, music over the Internet, as well as an extremely comfortable bed to lay my weary head.

So many things I and millions of others enjoy because of those veterans, men & women, all who sacrificed life & limb, so that we, and hopefully their descendants, can enjoy the thousands of every day things we take for granted.

Memorial Day isn’t a remembrance day for current military members or even veterans.  It’s a day that is set aside to honor those who have given their all, life and limb, in the protection of their country or those who served along side.

Those honorable men and women who had a future, but lost it as well as their lives, so that we can live ours. There’s no greater love.

 

Veterans Health Care – My Experience

If you’re a U.S. military veteran. or a family member of a veteran, then this blog post is for you. Those whom are also interested in government managed health care, and haven’t first hand knowledge, this may help you.

Most of what I’m going to discuss is only one man’s opinion, but in a sea of opinions, I’m going to do my best to accurately inform anyone still reading past the opening paragraphs.

CH-46s on runway destined for Viet Nam

CH-46s on runway Kaneohe Hawaii, destined for Vietnam

I’m a Vietnam era veteran. That means something specific, and to anyone that has also served during a time of war, but wasn’t a directly involved participant, meaning they weren’t in the designated country, served in a non-combat role, their benefits may differ from those serving during peace time operations.

The VA has different designated levels of assistance, depending on the time someone has served. They provide service for all in some capacity, but you may need to pay more for services rendered, depending on your current income, and when you served. Those details are available online, and if you aren’t aware of them, please follow this link.

VA heath care and the Affordable Care Act.

If you read the information, don’t fully understand it, and need more help, you can drop a response at the bottom of this post, along with your real name and how to contact you. Nothing you send will be automatically posted. I have to review comments before yours goes public. If you send personal information, I’ll not publish it. Of course I’m hoping I won’t be deluged with questions or some scammer trying to take advantage of my willingness to help explain what the VA can provide. I may just post a link, if I see the answer already available for your specific question.

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Me standing outside of a TAC – 1975

I want to encourage any veteran or family member that hasn’t been involved with VA health care to not defer or postpone the services which you’ve earned. Of course, if you’re enlistment or your appointment with the military wasn’t based on what you might later receive, it’s natural to ignore your benefits.

I enrolled about 2 years ago. Since then, I’ve been in for two annual physicals, and an eye examination and a new prescription with glasses.

I went into the Atlanta VA hospital yesterday on a scheduled surgery. It was a same day, recovery at home afterwards type of care. I went in at 9am and was out by 5pm. 0900 & 1700, military time.

I can tell you my experience was as positive as I’ve had. As it has not been my first or second hospital rodeo. I think my national and international health care provided experience gives me a basis from which I can make comparisons.

I’m at home recovering today. The surgery appears to be completed without complications. I’ve had two calls from the VA. The last one was from one of the doctors who assisted in the surgery. She left her pager number on the discharge sheet in case I have a problem.

All of that without copay or out of pocket expenses. That of course is based on my time, duration of service and current level of income. If you’re a veteran or a close family member, I urge you to become acquainted with the VA. Be sure you’re not missing out on health care services. If you’ve read or heard horror stories, which I’m not going to suggest aren’t based on fact, my experience doesn’t align with those concerns. In fact, it’s been quite the opposite.

Find a VA location near you.